“Imagine me to be a tender plant. I was growing up in a particular place in a distant land. You came and transplanted me here into a different soil. Now for me to grow well here, you need to give lot of care. It is a new soil here. I need water and fertilizers. I need to be taken care of with love, affection and much caring.”
This is what my wife told me a few days after our wedding. That says it all; doesn’t it?
Sharing a personal story makes a speaker feel vulnerable. Many speakers confuse this as weakness. It is not. The truth points the other way. When a speaker shares a humourous or even sad story from his life, the audience sees beyond a speaker’s credentials.
They see a human being with flesh and blood on stage like all the others; with no other claim to greatness than the fact that he or she too is a participant in life’s rise and fall.
Rarely does a story to fail to illuminate if told well. But the mastery of story-telling is a little bit difficult to attain. Yet the truth is that we were all master story-tellers as children. Somehow we lost that capability in the process of growing up.
Becoming like a little child on stage is the key to holding audiences spellbound while communicating, especially through stories.
Stories have got great power in communication. Primarily we need to understand that a well-told story is a complete piece of communication. It has a definite beginning. Are we not familiar with the well-loved phrase, “Once upon a time”?
And stories do have a definite end. Again, we remember how we loved those fairy tales which ended, “And they lived happily ever after.”
There is action in a story. It gives our imagination a good exercise. Most stories arouse our curiosity. Thus we become active participants in the action when we listen to a story.
This power to engage the listener is so vital to communication. That is why a story succeeds in capturing attention where other speech techniques probably fail.
It is also important to understand that great stories do revolve around themes that lie close to life: Fight between good and evil, competing for love, honour, loyalty and sacrifice, war and hate, heroes and villains, journeys and dead-ends, explorations and conquest, myths and legends, light and darkness, death and beyond, pain and suffering, joy and fear, success and failure, birth and new beginnings. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Yet anything from personal life that touches one of these chords will not fail to captivate the audience if told well. And nothing surpasses the power of a story that ends with hope!
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