Business marketers know that their trade presentations need to include a story to connect with their audience. However,the words alone will not necessarily transform into a sale or the results you want. It is the way you deliver those words that will make the difference. We can borrow from acting skills to enhance our stories to make them dynamic and memorable. From my experience working with a variety of professionals and actors, I’ve narrowed three top ingredients that will aid the storyteller to mesmerize their listeners.
1. Creating Believability:
Actors are trained to tap into emotions and truth so their characters or stories are believable.When the audience recognizes the hope, fear, joy, sadness, excitement, or any other emotion; they are moved emotionally themselves. They can make the connection and understand.
So, how do you do this without looking like you are “fake acting?”
One ingredient that actors learn is to paint the picture of the character or the situation for the audience, so they can see and feel the moment. Actors spend time re-visiting their own sensory awareness, (touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight) in their training to help them focus on creating each story to be very real to the actor. Often the actor remembers a time when a similar experience may have happened to him.
In telling your stories during presentation, try to concentrate on creating any of the sensory images for your listener, to let them see and feel your story. Put yourself into the story situation at the moment you are delivering it to your audience. In this way, the audience will connect with the story, whether it is humorous or serious. Leave them laughing, crying, or motivating action.
Actors are able to get right into their characters or story. Lawyers who take extra coaching in acting skills learn this technique in order to make their case for a client resonate with the judge or jury; so that they can understand what the person was thinking at the time. You want your business presentation to have that extra dimension to a story that will touch the listener emotionally.
2. Using Improvisation:
Have you ever had an unexpected guest arrive, and suddenly, you need to adjust everything quickly to make things work? Or,have you ever been all set to do your presentation, but some equipment piece does not work, or worse, you’ve left your entire notes on the plane?
So what do you do? Do you panic or do you improvise?
Definitely, our actor’s second ingredient,improvisational skills, will augur well for your presentation, and for your own peace of mind. Actors train in improvisation for various reasons, whether it is to allow them to be inventive at any moment or to warm-up their skills. In the popular television show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?” we see the masters of ad lib and improvisation. In this show, hosted by Drew Carey, even the audience gets to throw in last-minute suggestions for the actors to portray.
A short class or workshop in improvisational skills will help you, the business presenter, loosen up and think outside the box. You will have the skill to cover for the unexpected. Improvisational training helps to improve your memory skills and your timing, as well as, to connect with your audience on a more human level.
Through improvisational training, one of the most important things that you learn is how to trust your imagination in any emergency situation. Most of the actors and professionals that I have worked with, who have not had improvisational training, think that they have no imagination. This is often because they have not had an opportunity to practice using their imagination,or because they feel it might be silly or embarrassing. However, it does not take long for those participants to do improvisational games and to apply them to their own lives. It builds confidence and assures them of their new skill which they can draw from at any moment, and enjoy the experience.
3. Using a “Pause”:
The final actor’s ingredient that business storytellers need to include is their skill in adding a pause during their delivery. A pause can be inserted effectively before or after a certain critical word in your presentation which will make your audience not only think, but also, connect emotionally with the your image.
For example, try saying this line: “Is Harry home yet?” by putting a pause before the word, “Harry” and then after it. See what the results are.
a. Is [pause] Harry home yet?
b. Is Harry [pause] home yet?
Find the key points in your presentation then insert a pause just before or after what you consider are the essential words. This, together with how you use the tone and inflection in your voice will make dramatic differences to your presentation.
Stories help people to remember and connect with their own lives, and in turn, warm-up to the presenter to trust him. If you use the 3 dynamic ingredients borrowed from the actor’s training model you will be able to make your story believable; plus keep it sounding new each time. Whether you are a lawyer, an insurance salesman, a trainer, or anyone using storytelling as part of your presentations, these techniques borrowed from the actor’s skills will give you the applause you deserve. Your listener will be motivated by your dramatically moving story to take action - a marketer’s dream!