Great stories can endure long after those who tell them have left the building or even, as in today’s post, have shuffled off this mortal coil.
Whether via written or spoken words – they can be the difference between whether audiences hang on to every word you share or drift away and pay less attention than you’d like. Here’s why.
- Can absorb our attention and emotions in ways that facts and figures rarely can, and
- Are easier to remember, act upon and share with others
And below are a few key lessons for speakers from two of the best storytellers of all time – Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.
But just before I get to these, a quick aside – this duo didn’t just capture hearts and minds in the 1800s through their writing, they were also much feted keynote speakers of international scale.
Back to the topic at hand – here’s a top tip from each of these legends:
#1. “Please, sir, I want some more.”
Readers of his story would reach the end of a monthly installment of chapters and be left wondering – what’s going to happen next?
Would Samuel Pickwick be ok, despite his naivety and an endless stream of misadventures? And what about the scoundrels (like Mr. Jingle) – would they be thwarted or get their comeuppances?
Of course, the characters in this case aren’t important – the point is…
…Stories are more engaging than ‘information’ because those who hear them tend to become more involved – becoming more active than passive listeners.
This is because they commonly cause audiences to draw comparisons or find parallels with what’s happening in the story and their own lives.
Fabulous. As a speaker, you want people to feel more immersed about the topic at hand – drawing their own conclusions and envisaging what actions they might take as a consequence.
#2. “Write what you know.”
Although he wrote some 30 books and hundreds of articles, he is most remembered for his Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
But why did these books succeed in ways that his other works never did?
It’s because they were based around topics, characters and locations that he knew more intimately – from his childhood growing up in Hannibal, Missouri, his time as a pilot of a steamboat on the Mississippi and as a soldier in the confederate army.
Creating stories from personal experiences, knowledge or observations is much easier than having to start from scratch.
They’re also likely to be more interesting because you’ll tend to inject more feeling into them – after all, you were there and remember how the events you describe were meaningful to you.
Great, share that.
What storytellers inspire you and why?
Quotes: #1 Oliver, Charles Dickens and #2 Mark Twain
Photo credits: CircaSassy and Cliff1066TM