Aside from your introduction, the material on which you speak and how you express your presentation, there is one thing that will help you effectively get your message across: learning to tell a story.
Different Kinds of Stories
There are different types of stories you can tell. Humorous stories, true stories about your own life, or stories you want to use as an example to highlight a specific point. People love stories. If you want someone to listen to what you have to say, you can hook them with these six words: “Can I tell you a story?” Most people will respond positively giving you an attentive audience.
For the purpose of an example of storytelling, let’s say your speaking topic is on attitude. The following coul be an excerpt of your talk: “One of the most important things that anyone can ever do for themselves is to be in control of their own attitude. The attitude with which you approach your speaking business, your life, your relationships, your children and family, is everything. Your business, your sports, your finances, everything is affected by your attitude. Attitude is just so important.
The Importance of Attitude
Whenever I think about the importance of attitude in life, I think about my daughter Loren. She’s like a social butterfly and has an ability to make friends instantly and permanently. When she walks into a room, people notice her. People are attracted to her wherever she is. Loren thrives on cheering people up especially if they are not feeling well. She loves to help them. She is like a little happiness vending machine. But the most striking thing about her is the color of her eyes. That’s the main thing people notice about her. Her eyes are an amazing, beautiful color blue and they seem programmed to only see the good in people. She sees the best is in every situation. Everybody comments on her incredible blue eyes- that they are the bluest eyes they have ever seen. It’s true. They are absolutely gorgeous. However, what most people don’t notice right away about Loren is that she’s blind.
A Challenging Journey
At the age of two, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that caused her to lose her vision. Now, over the last nine years, Loren’s world has gone from blurry to black. She has suffered through three different courses of chemotherapy, has had fifteen major surgeries (most of them in the last few months) and has been poked and prodded by more doctors, interns and residents than I can remember.
Over the last nine years, she has been stabbed by more needles than anyone should experience in their lifetime and has lost the use of most of the right side of her body. In fact, she is now partially paralyzed on her entire right side. Yet, over the last nine years, my daughter Loren has never once chosen to feel sorry for herself, never once whined, complained or become bitter about how things are or how they should have been.
Attitude and Choice
Charles Swindoll wrote a poem that relates perfectly to this. It says:
“The longer I live, the more important I realize the impact of attitude in life. Attitude is more important than fact. It is more important than the past, than money, than education, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people may think or say or do. It is more important than giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is that you have a choice everyday regarding the attitude you will embrace that day. We cannot change the past or the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string that we have, and that’s our attitude.”
He finished off with this statement: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
I am reminded of this statement every day by the actions and attitude of my little girl. So my question is what kind of attitude are you bringing to life? What kind of attitude are you bringing to the game?
An Example from Real Life
Now that’s the power of a story. I wish I had made that story up, but it’s a true story for my family and me. This is the type of story that people respond to, that they can understand, and that will help drive your message home. It shouts the message that if there is one thing that can transform every part of your life it is understanding the importance of the attitude you bring to everything that you do in life.
Now if you decided to simply say attitude is important so make sure you show up with a great attitude, it might not have much impact. However, sharing a story about your own life, your own children, something personal and full of emotion really highlights your message. People will listen because you have proven through your story that attitude has been a critical and important part of your life. Hopefully then, they will also realize how important it is for their own lives.
That is the power of a story. It might be an emotional story; it could be a humorous story but when you want to get your message across, to make a point, for somebody to really understand the message, let them know why it is important to you. Tell them a story and when they understand why it is important to you, they will understand why it should be important to them as well.