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.