Storytelling is the "mother" of all communications. Every art form relies on Story to convey meaning. Despite this truth, many communicators only approach storytelling as an adjunct to their speaking and presenting. For this quick article, I am speaking about oral storytelling, not digital storytelling that does not rely or build on a presenterís public speaking skills. I suggest that mastering oral or traditional storytelling should be at the top of every speakerís list of priorities.
Here are three foundational reasons that storytelling helps you improve your presentation skills:
1. Storytelling teaches you to think on your feet. When you learn to be a good storyteller, telling stories to all sizes of audiences from 2 or 2000 people, you must learn to adjust your energy and pace to match the audience reaction. "Reading" or understanding the mood, energy and desires of your audience is a good communication skill at all levels.
2. Storytelling teaches you to be spontaneous. While you are learning to tell a story, you focus on thinking about your story in an outline form, or episode-by-episode. Good storytellers do not memorize their stories word-for-word and do not use notes or other ways of reading their stories. No matter how you are communicating, it is never a good idea to deliver a canned, memorized speech to anyone. As a storyteller, you learn to rely on your ability to "see" a story as it happens, letting different parts of the story take precedence at different times. You will never tell a story the same way twice just as you should never speak to an audience like any audience before it.
3. Storytelling helps you to think about the deeper meanings of your content. Almost all stories carry some type of moral or ethical message and understanding. As you adapt personal and world stories to your presentations, you will start thinking deeper about the meaning of your communications. Of course, you may or may not act on those meanings, but you will generally find your presentations more satisfying as you understand their impact on your listeners.
All cultures use storytelling. Storytelling is a universal language and a core-skill for all presenters. My best public-speaking tip: seek out learning and coaching in the art of storytelling and work stories into all your presentations.
Sean Buvala is a professional storyteller, the director of Storyteller.net and a nationally recognized storytelling consultant. Please see his website at http://www.seantells.com to learn more about his storytelling techniques for corporate training. You can learn how to tell a story through his Ebook at at http://www.storytelling101.com