The Science of Using Storytelling in the Workplace


If you want to be a great presenter, incorporating stories will help get you there. Many of us are going from meeting to meeting, getting overloaded with information. Information overload is especially true for decision-makers like business owners and executives. When you’re presenting to this audience, or any audience for that matter, you have to develop public speaking tools and techniques to create a more engaging and persuasive presentation. You can make a memorable connection with your audience and get them invested in your presentation by using storytelling.

 

A brain imaging study from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, shows that the hippocampus is the brain’s storyteller, enabling us to connect separate, distant events into a single narrative.

 

“Things that happen in real life don’t always connect directly, but we can remember the details of each event better if they form a coherent narrative,” said Brendan Cohn-Sheehy, an M.D./Ph.D. student at UC Davis and first author on the paper.

 

Now that you know the value of storytelling, here are some tips for becoming a better storyteller. You can start by writing down three of your stories and thinking about how those stories make your audience feel. Write down the stories in their entirety, and practice delivering the stories. Record yourself during your practice runs and think through how you can edit the stories to include action, dialogue and vivid descriptors. Keep in mind the message you’re trying to relay with your story, and ask yourself whether every part of that story contributes to that message. You should also edit the story down and condense it as much as possible. You want to keep the attention of your audience while leaving enough time for the rest of the presentation. The more you work on your story and practice it, the more comfortable you will be delivering the story in front of an audience. As a bonus, having this well rehearsed story at the start of your presentation will likely reduce your anxiety and nerves for the rest of the presentation.

 

Are the stories meant to make people laugh or feel empathy? And then, the next time you are giving a presentation, think about how your practiced stories best fit into how you want your audience to feel and respond to you.