How to Make Your Story More Memorable
People remember Your Stories
You can give a presentation that’s a dazzling display of content, data, information and your vast intellectual knowledge, but when all is said and done, people remember your stories. Storyboard artists Sydney illustrate the narrative, plan shots, and draw panels to demonstrate action, and to maintain consistency between scenes.
Why do people remember stories but no other information?
Studies about how adults learn show that memory is formed when a person’s attention is engaged over a sustained period of time, and it is enhanced when auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses are stimulated.
They Remember the Pictures
In his book, The Owners Manual for the Brain, Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D., explains how memory is formed. The immediate memory is like a buffer area that can hold thousands of pieces of data for two seconds or less. The short-term memory is a like a broker that selects chunks of data to remember, but it takes about eight seconds of attention to add one new chunk of short-term memory. A new chunk of short-term memory becomes long-term memory when your attention is engaged over a sustained period of time.
When you listen to a great storyteller, you hear the story with your head, heart and soul. You’re not a passive listener – you’re an active participant. You’re experiencing the story as if it was yours. You feel what the storyteller feels, and see what the storyteller sees. You memorize and retain the chunks of information contained in the story because you see the images, hear the sounds, and feel the emotions. The story engages your attention on many levels, for a sustained period of time, so when the storyteller makes the point, the learning sticks. Storytelling transcends an intellectual experience.
Data Dumps Don’t Work. They Just Make People Tweet!
When you cram a ton of information into a training session or presentation to a group or a meeting with one or a few senior clients, you’re doing a data dump on your audience! The problem is, they can’t process your data as fast as you can dump it. Their brain gets stuck in immediate and short-term memory mode. You dump the data on them and they dump the data into their mental trash bin. Nothing sticks. Yet, have you ever sat in an all-day training and had a hard time remembering anything the speaker said, but still you were able to go back to the office and re-tell their stories? This is because stories stick.
In my Story Theater Retreats and Workshops, I perform stories as tutorials. In one story, I act out my experience when I went streaking in the summer of 1974 in Westwood, California and got arrested, naked, by the LAPD cops. When I’m finished performing the story, I ask my students to describe what they experienced. Some say they watched me streak past them as if they were standing in the movie theater line on the sidewalk. Some describe my 1962 Volkswagen bus with a psychedelic paint job or the sound of the cop’s sirens and the flashing lights. Some describe anxiety or embarrassment, and some even say they felt the hot and humid summer night air as they ran right along with me.
Make Your Stories Come Alive with Conscious Craft
For a story to come alive and captivate an audience, the content, structure and performance must be crafted strategically. The story itself is only a beginning. Storytelling is an art and the storyteller, the artist. And, all artists need tools. The actor needs a stage, props and costumes. The musician needs her instrument. The artist needs his brushes and paint. And the storyteller needs form, content and presentation skills and techniques. The great storytellers distinguish themselves not just by their talent, but also by their dedication to their craft. They think about their stories constantly. They structure the sequence and flow of the story, and experiment to find the right words that are genuinely theirs. They work on a gesture or movement until it is just right. Then they rehearse it over and over until it becomes second nature – the line and the gesture effortlessly married together. They incorporate acting skills and turn their stories into little theatrical events.
In order to have an end result that is amazing, you will have to spend many hours working on your story. Your story must be worked and re-worked, formed and re-formed. You’ll want to find the drama and comedy of your stories and let them shine. You’ll create a combination of “show and tell” to fully engage the audience – narrating some parts of the story, and “stepping into” the present moment of other parts to act them out. You’ll want to make your content come alive with Story Theater!
As a speaker, trainer or teacher, if you want your points to stick, then stories are your super glue. Use stories to make a point, teach a lesson and move people to action. Make your stories truly memorable by making them come alive with Story Theater. People remember the stories.
Here are some tips for telling a great story:
1. Decide on the main point of your story. Build the story with the end in mind.
2. Leave out tangential or extraneous information, but create detailed descriptions of the important scenes and people in your story.
3. Although most of your story will be told as a past tense narrative, act out key parts of the story in present tense.
4. Make the point of your story as an action statement, a positive command. Example: If the point is about the importance of reading and understanding a document or offer completely, you might say: “So you see how important it is to fully understand what we read and sign. If you want to avoid problems like the one I encountered, Read the Fine Print.”
5. Relate the point of your story to your listener with a specific question. Example: “How about you? Have you ever thought you understood something only to find out later that you had it all wrong? Have you ever forgotten to read the fine print? Remember, Read the Fine Print!”
Remember to use stories when you’re preparing your next presentation.
To learn how to craft your stories using The Nine Steps of Story Structure, read my book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method.
Doug Stevenson, president of Story Theater International, is a storytelling in business expert. He is the creator of The Story Theater Method and the author of the book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method.
His programs include: The Power to Persuade – The Magic of Story and Aikido Selling – Sell It with a Story
His speaking, training and executive coaching clients include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Mead Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Amgen, Deloitte, Volkswagen, Century 21, The Department of Defense, The National Education Association and many more.
His 10 CD – How to Write and Deliver a Dynamite Speech audio learning system is a workshop in a box. It contains an 80-page follow along workbook.
Doug can be reached at 1-800-573-6196 or 1-719-573-6195. Learn more about the Story Theater Method, purchase the book or Story Theater audio six pack, and sign-up for the free Story Theater newsletter at: http://www.storytelling-in-business.com
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