Using Life Experience (Narrative)

The Importance of Stories

Because human life is narratively rooted, incorporating story telling into public speaking can be a powerful way of reaching your audience.

Learning Objectives

State why effective storytelling is a key component of public speaking

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Storytelling  is the conveying of events in words, sound and/or images, often by improvisation or embellishment.
  • Stories are universal in that they can bridge cultural, linguistic and age-related divides.
  • Communicating by using storytelling techniques can be a more compelling and effective route of delivering information than that of using only dry facts.

Key Terms

  • Storytelling: The conveying of events in words, sound and/or images, often by improvisation or embellishment.

Storytelling

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, sound and/or images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870..

Telling a Story: A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea.

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool, a means for sharing experiences and knowledge. It’s one of the ways we learn. Peter L. Berger says human life is narratively rooted, humans construct their lives and shape their world into homes in terms of these groundings and memories. Stories are universal in that they can bridge cultural, linguistic and age-related divides.

The Utility of Storytelling in Public Speaking

Because human life is narratively rooted, incorporating story telling into public speaking can be a powerful way of reaching your audience. For example, communicating by using storytelling techniques can be a more compelling and effective route of delivering information than that of using only dry facts.

How and When to Use Narrative

Presenters use narratives to support their points and make their speeches more compelling.

Learning Objectives

Explain how to use narrative in speeches

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • A narrative is relayed in the form of a story.
  • The greatest story commandment is to make the audience care.
  • Your story should not be forced; the audience should perceive it as natural part of your speech.

Key Terms

  • narrative: The systematic recitation of an event or series of events. (see also storytelling)

How and When to Use Narrative

Whatever the purpose of your speech, you’re going to need a way to support your statements to prove their accuracy, but a good speech also makes its points interesting and memorable.

The most common forms of support are facts, statistics, testimony, narrative, examples, and comparisons. In this unit, we are going to address narrative.

A narrative is projected on a screen at the VFS Digital Design Assembly.

Using a Narrative: Narratives can be used to support a point that has been made or is about to be made.

The Narrative

Narrative takes the form of a story. Presenters use narratives to support a point that was already made or to introduce a point that will soon be made. Narratives can be combined with facts or statistics to make them even more compelling.

How to Use a Narrative

  • Storytelling points toward a single goal. Your story should not be forced, but should come across as a natural part of your speech. If your audience thinks you’re telling a story just because you read that it was a good idea to do so, your story won’t work.
  • The task of a story is to make the audience care. Your narrative should be something that your audience can easily understand and relate to.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Limit your narrative to three or four minutes at the most. Remember, you are using it to support or clarify your point. Once you’ve done that, move on.
  • Your story is not there to replace information. It is there to put something you have said into perspective.
  • The best stories paint a picture. They allow your audience to visualize what you are saying.
  • Make sure your story builds over time and doesn’t get boring. Keep your audience interested until the end.
  • Don’t overuse stories.
  • Of course, as the old adage says, “use what you know.” Stories are not just about facts—they’re also about communicating what you have experienced and what you personally know, and feel, to be true.