Transform Your Stories – Discover The Magic of Dialogue

It has been one of those on again, off again days in Dublin.

One minute it’s bucketing rain and the next the sun is out and you need sunglasses to protect yourself from the autumn glare.

Having made the mistake of venturing from my office this afternoon without a coat – I found myself taking refuge from a humdinger of a shower in a doorway where 2 youngish women were already taking cover.

And as I peered outwards for any sign of light, I couldn’t help but hear the duo behind me chatting loudly and idly about shopping matters.

While contemplating life and today’s post, regarding the role storytelling can play in persuasion –  It struck me that conversations like those flowing beside me today illustrate beautifully the role dialogue can play in making speakers’ stories more engaging.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts – stories are a vital, tried and trusted way to capture the hearts and minds of audiences. Used well, they can help any speaker to truly inspire those who hear them.

But in sharing stories with your audiences – it’s often a good idea to add in bits of dialogue to give them more zing and make them more captivating.

Why?  As any best selling author will tell you, dialogue is necessarily more personal than descriptions of events.

Applied judicially , it can help a speaker to more easily ‘show versus tell’ – making stories ‘sound’ that much more authentic and real.

Let me show you what I mean – as we eavesdrop for just a few seconds on an example of what people ‘actually say’ when trying to influence each other.

Woman 1:      Jaynee, I was so worried. I felt guilty. We knew she wanted to buy something.

Woman 2:      I’m the same. And it’s not like they cost so much…

…But buying a dress that colour is in this season

Woman 1:      That’s it – I told her, you can’t just rule out a colour like that!

Woman 2:      I know. And it’s gorgeous on. And God knows, I don’t want to look any more.

That’s all the random chat I want to borrow for illustrative purposes.

Now, let me ask you some questions.

Despite such a short snippet from a real life dialogue, did you:

  • Find you could quickly form a mental picture of what these strangers – who you’ve never seen – might look like and sound like?
  • Notice how easy it was to follow their story – Regardless of their short sentences (many of which weren’t finished) and limited focus on grammatical correctness?

What can speakers learn from real life conversations?

Think about stories you tell to colleagues, friends or family. How often do you include snippets of ‘he said, she said’ in your stories to show what was happening?

Quite often, right?

And there’s a reason you do this. It makes stories more interesting.


About Eamonn O'Brien

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