Executive #1 went to the front of the room and thanked the participants for coming. He said he was excited about the work we were going to do. Ho hum. Nice, but boring.
Executive #2 went to the front of the room and started with a story about driving his car… to work? To their biggest client’s office? To the beach? To Disneyland? He immediately engaged the participants by creating an analogy between his drive and the group’s strategic planning efforts. The audience was much more interested in his remarks. They were different, they were personal, and they could see themselves driving to Disneyland!
Since the dawn of man, we have gathered around the fire, rapturously listening to stories that define what is important to the clan. Today’s audiences are not too different from our ancestors. When listeners hear a well-told story, they take a journey with you, correlating their own experiences with yours. Your story becomes their story or it reminds them of a similar story from their own lives. This is called a “Me Too Moment.” Your stories help you build a connection to your audience. It could be a story about yourself or someone you know. If you don’t have enough stories of your own, you can certainly “borrow” a story as long as you cite the source and ask their permission if at all possible. Please, do NOT brag about your accomplishments, lift a story off the Internet, or repackage a borrowed story to sound like it happened to you.
But here’s the weird part: After one of your presentations, a participant will share her “Me Too Moment,” which is a vastly different story from your own and with a different meaning altogether! I used to think these people just didn’t get the point until I realized that they got the point they needed to get. And that’s what so great about stories: each audience member can derive their own unique takeaway from the exact same story! Your audience may not remember exactly what you said during your presentation but they will remember your stories.