December 12, 2016 3:59 pm

storybook The other day one of my clients observed how incredibly difficult and time consuming it was to prepare a 10 minute speech for a conference.

It reminded me of what Churchill said: ‘‘If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if an hour, I am ready now’.

The next day I was asked by a colleague if I could tell her how to teach storytelling to a group in just 30 mins. If you give me a day, or even half a day I know what to do, but 30 mins?

Here are the eight storytelling essentials that I shared with her. 

  1. Think about the emotional state of the person/audience. Are they frightened or nervous of change? Are they sceptical? Understanding their emotional state will really help.
  2. What do you want them to THINK and then (most importantly) DO. There’s no point in telling stories in business unless you get people into action.
  3. Now, what story are you going to use to get them started? This is the hard bit and there are no short cuts. When you have your story you then need to give it structure…
  4. In the beginning…Hook them! e.g. ‘This is how a huge mistake lead to the biggest win we’ve ever had’. Now they are interested, give them the background (only what is absolutely necessary) and introduce the main character in a way that makes us care about him/her. Now get the audience concerned about what is going to happen.
  5. Introduce the crisis, what our character faced. Make sure it’s something the audience can connect emotionally with.
  6. The climax. How the crisis is overcome by either conflict, choice or action.
  7. The moral of the story. Think about the implications of the story. Sometimes you don’t state it (let the audience work it out), other times you do. Decide what will work best for you.
  8. Now edit it ruthlessly and make it really punchy (30-60 secs long).

Here’s an example based on Innocent’s use of storytelling.

“We decided to stop talking about a business and actually start one. So we made some smoothies and sold them at a music festival. A sign above the stall said ‘Should we give up our jobs and make these smoothies?’ People were asked to throw their empties either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ bin. ‘Yes’ won. On Monday we went into work and resigned.”

If you hadn’t heard of Innocent and were meeting them for the first time would you be hooked by the opening? Do you care about them? Do they make good products? Are they good at selling them?

If it’s ‘Yes’ to all these questions then this example of storytelling works works. And it only takes 22 seconds to tell.