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The Power of Storytelling

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 11, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I am waiting for my turn to speak. I take a peek and find most of the audience is blurred.  Intentionally fogged and shadowed in a haze, by my brain. Only one defined space is focused and waiting for me to enter.  The words I’ve gathered try to jumble in my mind, but I’ve rehearsed this speech.  The rhythm of practice corrals these thoughts and brings them into queue. Ready to be shared with the collection of people, waiting to hear my story.

Some time ago, I participated in a lunch presentation about communication. Our speaker was well versed in public speaking and presented part of a series titled, ‘Storytelling Made Simple, Techniques for Becoming a Better Storyteller’, (Steelcase 2017).   While most of us may recall the key elements of a story, our speaker articulately defined the skills and structure of turning a great story into a means to make a sincere exchange with the speaker and audience. By using the components of a great story: beginning (setting), middle (conflict) and end (resolution), we create the framework to share our message and connect with the audience. How you make this connection is a result of preparing, practicing, and presenting. 

In preparation, first, gather information. What do you wish to share, who is your audience, and what matters to them?  Then, create a written outline and focus on concise and relevant information. During your practice, make it a real experience with a friendly group test run. Practice and practice again while noting your posture, tone, and expressions.  Your presentation will launch on a solid foundation as you slow down, take a breath, smile, and stand tall with confidence. 

It is my turn to speak and I step forward. A couple of familiar faces greet me with smiles, and I smile back.  I share a story about my Dad. He recently passed away but is a daily thought in our lives.  With my words, stance, and tone; I convey a lesson my Dad drilled into my sister and me: “It’s broke. Fix it.”  A simple direction barked out with confidence that we were smart and driven enough to find a solution. Despite the harsh delivery, Dad never faltered with enforcing our will and confidence to thrive.  At the end of my Dad’s life, his hospice nurse said, “Vietnam veterans are hard to love.”  This is true.  However, they are also hard not to love.

I end my speech with strained and pinched emotion in my voice. I am not embarrassed, as I hope my narrative breaks the distance between the audience and me.  And that we gained a connection, with my story.

What tools do you use when preparing to tell your story? Share them in the comment box below.



Nikki Pierce, CDFA, LEED AP BD+C is the Administrative Manager for Clark Nexsen in Charlotte, NC

She currently serves as the SDA National Vice-President for the 2018-2019 term.

Tags:  Power of Storytelling  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Permalink | Comments (4)

Comments on this post...

Brooke Simcik, CDFA says...
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019
I need a class on this Nikki. Fantastic article.
Permalink to this Comment }

Anne McNeely, CDFA says...
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019
well said! I'm good at telling a story on paper but when it comes to public speaking, it's a struggle every time.
Permalink to this Comment }

Sarah Wallace, FSDA, LEED Green Associate says...
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019
As a Creative Writing Major and Actor - this Blog totally hits all the nails on the head! I learned a trick at a past EDSymposium (it was either Portland or Nashville?) The truth is that most people don't actually speak the way they write. That is definitely true for me. So the most important recommendation i learned and what i DON'T do when preparing for a public speech, is script it all out. I will create an outline and then try to only take up a note card with bullet points. Those bullet points trigger each "element" or "story" that have been practiced/rehearsed. This is the only way i have found for my speeches to sound "natural" and allow me to make eye contact. While it sounds scary, it actually increases my confidence. I encourage everyone to try this method!
Permalink to this Comment }

Natalie Newman says...
Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2019
This sounds like it could be a great seminar at the 2020 SDA National Convention - EDSymposium20. It covers a couple different PEGs. Thanks for sharing.
Permalink to this Comment }

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