Some thoughts on storytelling in speeches

<NOTE – THIS POST JUST FELL OUT OF MY HEAD, IT’S THE SORT OF TOPIC KEEN SPEAKERS MIGHT DEBATE ‘DOWN THE PUB’ – I’D BE INTERESTED TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS>

Ernst Gombrich said: “The painter must leave the beholder something to guess.”

There’s a valuable lesson there for us as speakers.

As we become more advanced speakers and influencers, we put a lot of emphasis on telling stories to convey our message; to inspire, persuade, inform and entertain our audience.

Storytelling is a sound public speaking tactic.

The challenge for us as advanced speakers is to not ‘overtell’ the story.

Blurry detail imageWe must leave our audience something to guess or imagine for themselves, we must not so much paint a picture, as outline a picture for our audience to colour in.

If we prescribe every detail minutely, we leave no room for our audience to imagine the story as their own, and it is only the ownership that comes from imagining a story as your own that will persuade our audience that it has some value for them.

To truly own our story, core thought or message, our audience have to become our accomplice and develop it for themselves. How detailed is the story in your next presentation? Does it leave your audience room to ‘own’ it?

To truly own our story, we must leave the beholder something to guess.

Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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