Why you need great storytelling skills

Children enjoy a story telling session at the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) on June 18, 2016 in Nakuru during the 2016 Sigana International Storytelling Festival (SISF). Stories make concepts and ideas tangible. Used masterfully, stories help listeners tune in and lean in. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Faced with a job interview where you have to share about your past experience, package your experience in an illuminative story.
  • Tell stories to children to inspire them to higher ideals. Tell stories to show how your product has changed or will change lives.
  • Make stories your tool to sell your great tech ideas.

In this fiercely competitive era, ideas are the new currency. To make our ideas count, we need to wrap them up nicely, put a bow on them and deliver them with verve and passion. The secret sauce for delivering the most potent ideas is through stories — even in professional settings.
In many boardrooms, speakers user PowerPoint presentations to pitch products and ideas. But prosaic PowerPoint presentations on their own can be bland and boring. Speakers who use dry data, charts, graphs and spew out facts pale compared with speakers who sprinkle their presentation with suitable stories that light up the room and illuminate the subject.

EXPRESS PASSION
Why is that? — you may ask. PowerPoint presentations have little emotional connection. Stories make concepts and ideas tangible. Used masterfully, stories help listeners tune in and lean in. Stories echo and amplify the message. Gifted storytellers use stories to charm their way into people’s hearts and minds and bend them to their will.
In his book, Talk Like TED, author Carmine Gallo says, great leaders “tell stories to express their passion for the subject and to connect with their audience.” He adds that ideas are the currency for the 21st century and stories facilitate the exchange of that currency.

COMPLEX MESSAGES
Backed by tonnes of studies, psychologists agree: People are most at home with stories than bare-bone facts. Our brains are more active when we are listening to stories — because stories stimulate and engage the human brain.
Jesus Himself used stories to drive home complex messages. Preachers who have mastered the art of storytelling command large congregations compared with those who don’t.

INCREASE CURIOSITY
One of the world’s most watched televangelists, Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Texas, employs stories in his sermons. He punctuates his sermons with stories to ratchet up the mood and curiosity of congregants, and drive the message home. It’s little wonder that every Sunday he has millions of worshippers glued to their screens watching him.
Politicians, business mavens and consummate professionals get it — they employ an avalanche of stories as tools to connect, influence and persuade.

THE PRESENTATION

Not to be misunderstood, facts are good. But they only tell while stories sell. Inspiring speakers typically use personal stories that relate directly to the theme of the presentation. Vivid personal stories are better because they take people on a journey and the audience can relate to those events.

Faced with a job interview where you have to share about your past experience, package your experience in an illuminative story. Tell stories to children to inspire them to higher ideals. Tell stories to show how your product has changed or will change lives. Make stories your tool to sell your great tech ideas.
In sum, stories are the tonic to boring boardroom pitches.

Mr Wambugu is an informatics specialist. Email: samwambugu@gmail.com @samwambugu2