‘I loved how you told that story. I felt like a child at nursery school being read to, feeling all warm and cosy. It was wonderful!’
That’s what stories do. They make the listener feel warm and cosy and much more drawn to you than when you just share information. Stories transport listeners to a much more comfortable place.
To emphasise the point, this was feedback a client had after adding a story to a business presentation at her networking group. They already knew what she did and had heard her speak about it before – but this time it was different. She had added a personal story. Nothing earth shattering – but a personal story about how she helped a client.
You too can achieve that difference in response from your audience – and if you need any help with finding or crafting those stories then please get in touch.
Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach...
My history teacher at school used to repeat key words 3 times and Persepolis is one that stuck – from all those years ago!! So repetition clearly works.
It’s a really effective way of reinforcing your key points and also of making your content hang together.
Repeating key points gives them gravitas and additional meaning. You can either repeat a word or phrase 3 times one after the other, as with ‘Persepolis, or seed them at key points throughout the presentation, perhaps after another piece of supportive information.
It also works well to repeat a less key phrase for continuity. For example, ‘I’d like to see (this change); I’d like to see (that change); I’d like to see (the other change). That kind of repetition adds to your credibility as a speaker.
So how can you use repetition?
(And if you know anything about Persepolis do let me know!!)
Want help with creating your signature talk? I can...
How often do you think about your family history and whether it’s similar or different from your life now?
I hardly ever do so I thought I’d share a bit of it here. You can decide for yourself whether you find it interesting and whether sharing some of yours might also be a valuable thing to do.
Both my parents were born to working class country people, my Mum one of 11 children and my Dad an only child. Money was scarce on both sides and most of their fruit and veg was home grown by my respective Grandads.
One Grandad was forester, and the other a taxi driver, driving a horse and trap instead of a car.
My parents met making Spitfires during the war. My Mum could never understand why that was interesting.
What parts of your family history would let your audience know more about you?
To find out how I can help with pulling out some of that history, get in touch and let’s have a chat.
Hands up if you enjoyed doing precis at school....
At the time I hated it but I’ve more recently realised how useful it is to me now, in honing my message.
Over the summer I dusted off some pieces I’d written but never used. I wanted to shorten them and there’s nothing like an exercise like that for gaining real clarity about your message.
The first edit was around what’s relevant or not to the key point. Then it was about how to say the same thing in a more succinct way.
I apply the same principle to these weekly tips. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re never more than 150 words.
It’s something I help my clients do when it comes to gaining clarity of message in their talks and presentations too. So often less is more.
Let me know if you’d like my help with this. Get in touch to arrange a chat.
Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and...
How often do you find yourself talking to someone and you’re both fully engaged in the conversation, but suddenly someone says ‘what were we talking about?’
What probably happened is that one of you interrupted the flow of conversation – and concentration - by introducing another topic or story and you’ve forgotten what the original topic was.
This can happen in your business talks too. I call it ‘taking your audience down a rabbit hole’ and it’s to be avoided.
It happens when you include a part of your story that’s not relevant to your key message. However fascinating a part it is, if it’s not relevant then it confuses your audience and leaves them wondering what you’re talking about.
So when you’re deciding which bits of your story to include, keep asking yourself ‘is it relevant to my key message this time?’ If it’s not, leave it for another time.
Do you have a favourite place? Perhaps more than one?
And what on earth does that have to do with promoting your business?
By sharing your insights on some of your favourite places and why tells your audience something about you. Do you like the bustle of a city, or a secluded island beach, or is somewhere from your childhood dear to your heart?
It doesn’t even need to be a specific location but might be some thing like the bow of a ship in a storm, the quiet and cool of a place of worship or the buzz of a busy market.
Just giving your reflections on anywhere does the job and of course at a later date you can write or speak about somewhere else. What does need to be genuine are those reflections because they’re the window to you, the person behind the business persona.
‘Your favourite place’ is just one of over 100 prompts you’ll find in my Story Prompt Cards and Story Journal.
To get the other 99 check the cards and...
I was recently asked whether I could help someone craft a speech for an industry-specific audience.
Without being an expert in her industry and never having given a speech to that industry, I could, with hand on heart, say ‘Yes I can.’
The reason is simple – the principles for addressing any audience are the same.
Here are 3 basic questions to ask either yourself or the person who booked you to speak:
You’re an expert in your own field and they’re there to learn from you. You don’t need to be an expert in their field too.
If you would like more help with this, and with crafting the speech from the outset, just get in touch.
Have you ever missed an opportunity and regretted it?
Mine was bungee jumping.
We’d already spent a while at the Kaiwura Bridge, New Zealand, the claimed home of bungee jumping, waiting for my daughter’s turn.
‘Oh Mum! you really should do it!’ she said, as she returned, lit up from her experience.
In that moment I decided to give it a go. Chances are I may never come back to this spot again and I wouldn’t want to live with the regret of chickening out.
But just then a coach-load of eager jumpers alighted and joined the queue.
The wait for my turn was going to be too long. We were on a schedule.
If only I’d been brave enough to say ‘yes’ when Hannah did.
15 years on, it’s probably not something I would do now but I wish I’d done it then.
What moment are you waiting to seize?
If it’s anything to do with public speaking or improving your communication...
A question I’m often asked is ‘How many stories is it OK to include?
The answer of course is ‘It depends.’
It depends on the message you’re using the stories to convey. Does using more than one add value to your message and to your audience or does it water down the value of the single one you might share?
Can a talk be one long story? Again, it depends.
Some stories are powerful enough to not really need a narrative. The message or learning is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be spelt out.
Others are not and you’ll need to let the audience what you, or the main character learned from their experience within that story.
It all comes back to basics. Which stories, or parts of a story do you need to tell this particular audience to convey this particular message?
Need help with that? Let's have a chat.
Rachel Maunder is a communication...
Have you noticed how different groups and organisations have their in-phrases that everybody uses, that don’t mean much at all to others outside the group?
During my time as Cabin Crew, one of our in-questions was ‘Are you going or have you been?’ meaning, are you about to go out on a trip of have you just arrived home.
When stopped for speeding on the airport perimeter road by a policeman and asked where I was going, my default reply was ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’ve just been.’
‘Now we must be going somewhere, mustn’t we?’ he said, in that semi-amused semi condescending way police officers often have.
He clearly didn’t know Air Crew speak.
Back on sensible street, the conversation continued and I was allowed on my way with a warning.
It’s the same when you’re addressing an audience. Make sure that your phrases and language match theirs. If they’re not in...