Try Visual Storytelling When Presenting

Visual communication is closely tied to the art of storytelling. It’s definitely an area worth becoming proficient in, because focused imagery makes your message more compelling and memorable.

Photo Credit: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/556655/Images/nonprofit_storytelling_blog.jpg

Too many images, or ones that are cluttered and not directly related to your message will detract from your speech.

Today I want to take a look at how to use images in a way that will have the most impact on your audience.

What are you trying to say?

What are your main points? What do you want your audience members to walk away remembering?

Sit down and take a few minutes to think about this. Then write down no more than three things you want them to remember after you are gone. Highlight the key words in your text and begin thinking about visuals that reinforce them.

Authenticity

It is important that your visuals feel authentic. Look for opportunities to use photos or video clips of actual clients rather than stock photos or outdated clip art.

Your audience members want to know how your brand or idea applies to them today.

Or look for stunning photos that capture the ideas behind your brand. Is your product future-oriented?

Consider using a photo of something or someone in motion, moving away from the viewer. There are many ways to represent a brand or idea.

What will have the most impact on the viewer?

Body Language

Even in visual storytelling your body language, presence, and personality are a critical part of telling a story as part of a speech. We have talked about body language here before.

Remember to take advantage of the tools you always have on hand. Gesturing, making eye contact, and moving around as you talk add a great deal to your presentation.

It’s another great way to engage an audience and make an impact on them.

Size Matters

Big and bold is the way to go in most cases. Large, simple image or clips will best grab the viewer’s attention.

Plan ahead by thinking about where your audience will be sitting in relation to the screen they will see. Can they see over each other’s heads?

Consider where best to place your visuals for maximum impact. Plan your movements so that you won’t be in your own way when you share the photos or videos.

Diversity

Use images that are culturally relevant to your audience. Diversity is important today and your choice of visuals should reflect that. Society is changing and inclusiveness is more important than ever before, especially if your business has an online presence.

It’s Your Turn

Give some thought to visual storytelling for your next presentation. Jot down some ideas and look for images or video clips that represent your brand or idea.

Maybe it’s time to make a short video with one of your clients who can talk about what you have done for them. Let me know what you do and how it works for you.

And if you have any ideas t share, I would love to hear about it!

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Use Passionate Storytelling

Why You Should Tell Stories: Storytelling is an ancient form of passing on experience and wisdom. It’s also an effective tool in presentations and speeches. Stories create buy- in, making your audience want to know what happens next. But why are they so effective? Let’s take a look at three reasons storytelling works so well in professional settings in the video by Cultures AT Work below.

You’ll see that a well-told story invites your audience into an intimate setting, even in the largest of auditoriums.

How to Make Your Story Resonate:  Not just any old story will do. There are ways to improve your storytelling that will have a greater impact on your audience. Start by making it personal.

Make it Personal: The best stories come from your own personal experience. If you have lived through something yourself, you are the best person to talk about it. We know that they affect brain chemistry, too! The brain of a person listening to a story mirrors that of the teller’s and creates a powerful connection. It’s also easier to talk about something you have been through and learned from yourself. Stories about challenging personal experiences will create empathy in your listeners and make them want to root for you. Allow your emotions to show. Just as you should avoid reading an entire speech from your notes, you should avoid sounding like you are reading entries from a dictionary when you talk about your experience.

Identify the Parts: A good story has a beginning, middle and end. These three parts are often used as hooks on which to hang the parts of your story. Without them, your story can turn into a novel, where you ramble on and risk losing your audience along the way. Think about the last time you attended a wedding or other gathering where stores were shared. Was the story brief and compelling with a kernel of wisdom or humor included? Or did the speaker ramble on for several minutes, making everyone wonder what the point was? Having the parts of your story in mind as you speak will serve as a mental outline to help you get from beginning to end while keeping your audience engaged.

Rehearse and Record: The ubiquitous nature of cell phones with high-quality cameras makes it easier than ever to do some self-coaching. Prepare your remarks and your story and then record yourself making your presentation. Seeing yourself as your audience does makes is much easier to adjust your performance. Remember, storytelling is a performance and you are the actor! Take notes on what you want to improve and make changes, recording and reviewing until you like what you see.

Polish Your Storytelling Skills: Work on creating a great story for your next presentation by considering something that happened to you that connects to your next talk. Identify the beginning, middle, and end, and think about how it impacted your life. Practice integrating the story into your speech and record yourself making the presentation. How did it go? Let me know what you thought and how you made changes to your story based on what you saw.

For more on storytelling be sure to read the post Storytelling: Win Over Any Audience.  Also join the conversation below to tell me what you thought.

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Perfect Practice – The New Rules For Giving A Speech

Practice does not make perfect anymore according to the new methods being embraced by today’s most effective communicators.

Instead, the new rules are more casual and direct such as you practice to perfect your talk. For example, you need to practice in front of a trusted audience to get good feedback and make adjustments according to their reactions.

“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.” Wayne Burgraff

Practice out Loud the Way You Will Give Your Speech Live

Although this won’t make you perfect, it does produce a lot of benefits. Reading your speech out loud may expose flaws that you may have missed in your editing. This will also allow you to gauge your excitement level for your topic, are you excited about or bored?

Also, you will be able to gauge your timing and boost your confidence by rehearsing your material.

There is no “right way’ to Give a Speech

The hard and fast rules of public speaking are changing and the days of boring lectures are over. In fact, speeches and presentations will become more interactive in the coming years.

Find your authentic style, what works for you, and doesn’t work for you and tweak it accordingly. Practice different ideas in front of your trusted test audience and get their honest opinion.

Find Your Own Voice

When preparing for your speech, pay attention to the tone of your voice and practice how you want your voice to sound in your speech. Your voice is an important element to how your listeners will judge your attitude, credibility, and sincerity. You can vary your pitch, rhythm and volume for emphasis and work expression in.

You need to do that throughout your speech or your voice will become monotone which will give your audience the impression that you don’t care about the message you are delivering.

Use Honest Even Harsh Feedback

To really gauge how you are doing, always solicit feedback even if you know it is going to be bad. You should make people aware that you really want honest feedback.

It could sting for a second but the best way for us to learn is from our mistakes. You may be repeatedly making a mistake that you are totally unaware of and since people don’t like to offer criticism no has ever told you. If you are doing a fabulous job and keeping everyone interested, your peers will be happy to tell you.

This is the wonderful thing about practicing in front of trusted individuals is that  you don’t have to worry about the pressure of a large audience and you can be practice being yourself.

Do not Practice in Front of the Mirror

Forget what everyone has always told you, practicing in front of the mirror does not work. This can sabotage your speech in a negative way if you are becoming self-conscious by focusing on flaws. The negative feelings can leave you less than enthusiastic to deliver your speech. Also, you will try to remain in full view of the mirror and this will limit your movements.

When preparing for your next speech remember to forget about a lot of the outdated rules you have learned and practice with the idea that practice does not make perfect but you practice to perfect your talk.

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Storytelling: Win Over Any Audience

Storytelling is a powerful way to enhance your message and get your audience to identify with you. Every day we tell stories to evoke reactions from others, we are trying to persuade, entertain or impress. When you tell stories rather than just spout out boring facts, you disarm your audience, reach people at their level and make others feel less threatened.

Why does this work?

People want to be a part of something more; they want to relate to innate human emotions.  The more relevant the story or the characters in the story to real life, the more effective it is.  Storytelling is also more enduring and makes teaching easier to remember and easier to apply. For those reasons, this is a good strategy for a business meeting or presentation. Your audience is more likely to make a connection with you and to agree with you.  Also, they are more likely to leave the meeting remembering the majority of your major points. Often when you are telling a story, you are getting your point across and into the heads of your audience without them even knowing it.  In the video Using Storytelling to Make a Point, Doug Stevenson shows how “hiding your message in a story” can be very effective.

Use it Everyday

This method of persuasion can also be used when dealing with your boss, your co-workers and in your everyday life.  For example, if you want to approach your boss to have a discussion about changes you feel need to take place in the office, you have a much greater chance of success using anecdotes rather than what might come across as a lecture. In fact, to improve communication in the workplace, more and more large companies are teaching and encouraging executives how to effectively use relatable stories.

If you need some convincing take a look around you at social events; people are crowded around the person that has the great stories to tell, people are drawn to it.  If you have never been a story teller and you think that you can’t do this, don’t worry, you can. Fortunately, anyone can become a good story teller, but it does require preparation and practice. The biggest hurdle for people is making that first leap out of your comfort zone, but once you make that jump, it becomes easier and easier.  Remember to make your delivery with confidence and authority as that will be another key element in getting your audience to trust you.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” –Robert McKee 

Conclusion

If you want your audience to trust you, relate to you and to agree with you, use the storytelling technique in your next meeting or presentation. If this sounds daunting to you, at least try it with one person in the next few days and I know you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. The positive response you get will motivate you to take it to the next level.

So what do you think?  (Post your thoughts and questions in the comments below.)

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