Wow Audiences Like Steve Jobs With Stories

Speak Like Steve Jobs - Using Stories to Wow Your AudiencesI was reminded recently of the power of storytelling when making a speech; how stories both captivate and motivate audiences.

When driving to a workshop, I heard a radio homage to Steve Jobs. It included a collage of interviews, comments and speeches about and from him.

It was incredible.

In one excerpt – a graduation speech at Stanford University in 1995 – he told a spell binding story about a lesson he learned from his early life.

Steve Jobs’s speeches used personal stories to engage imaginations

He shared how he had been put up for adoption as a child and his adoptive parents only got to bring him up on the strict understanding that they would send him to college.

The snag? His new parents didn’t have much money when the time came for him to go to University.

So when Steve decided after 6 months of attending classes that he wasn’t getting much out of his studies, he quit college (to save money for his parents and himself from boredom) and started to check in on courses that did interest him.

His adoptive parents were naturally upset. But…

…Attending one of these ad hoc classes led him to decisions he later believed were instrumental to the success of the original Apple computers.

Here’s the thing. His story was about he connected the dots and encouraged his audience to do the same in their lives.

Watch this video to the very end; now ask yourself, why is it so compelling?

 

Stories make speeches more interesting and compelling

There is a good reason why people like personal stories – they are a form of drama in which you invite your audience into a front row vantage point; where they can become immersed in a world you create for them.

They visualise the challenges you must have faced; they put themselves in your shoes…

…and consider how they might have reacted in the same situations.

They feel what you felt.

And if the stories are apocryphal – where the drama you experienced led you to a new realisation; you can bring your audience on the same journey you took and to form the same conclusions as you.

When we are swayed by the heart and the mind – as opposed to one or the other of these – we are much more apt to want to do something about what we have experienced.

We want closure to have a happy ending to the journey we have undertaken.

Make your presentations more memorable

But storytelling is even more powerful than that; well told stories are easier to remember and easier to relay to others later.

Just as parables have been passed down for thousands of years and still have resonance today; people are much more likely to remember a story you tell them years from now than any number of critical points or facts you may litter into a PowerPoint presentation.

Even though the prospect of telling personal stories can make any of us feel a little vulnerable; they also make you come over to audience as being more human.

And we all relate to that; relating to your voice as opposed to other people’s ideas you may assemble.

What presentation tips can Steve Jobs teach you?

Does story telling work?

Who has inspired you through their stories and what did they say that was so memorable and fired you up?

 

Photo Credit: Joi

 

About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O’Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.

  • Great article, Eamonn,

    I feel the secret to great speeches is that you feel the person is speaking to you PERSONALLY.

    A lot of public speakers seem to be ‘broadcasters’ delivering messages – maybe that worked in the past, but I feel one needs to be more personal these days.

    And storytelling is one way to do this 🙂

    Ivan

  • Good article – the only thing I’d take issue with is the title, where you say it’s a ‘little known’ technique… I’ve got to say I think it’s a well known presentation technique! 🙂

    Can I add and idea for a technique even more powerful that your own stories…? It’s getting your audience to tell *their* stories. Of course this isn’t possible in a lot of presentations but when you can manage it you’ve already overcome the credibility barrier!

  • Great article Eamonn – I absolutely love that video clip.

    • Eamonn O’Brien

      Thanks Neil – It’s a great example of how telling stories can help a speaker to connect emotionally with an audience.

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