How To Use Storytelling To Persuade and Influence Your Audience In Corporate Speaking

Storytelling is a tool used in all kinds of careers. Whether you’re a company CEO or a salesperson just starting out, storytelling ability can play a more significant role than you realize. Utilizing storytelling helps engage the audience, creates a more memorable experience, and connects people to you and your insights. People are more likely to be influenced by someone with a good story than by a string of facts or a dry presentation.

When going into corporate speaking, storytelling is a must. Everyone has sat through a speech too long at a wedding, a work event, or even a family dinner. Often what these speeches lack can be addressed. These could have been great stories, and so can yours.

Anyone can get in a room and start talking, but if you want to utilize your skills to persuade and influence your audience, you want to prepare. Knowing what to say and how to say it is a good start, but building in storytelling will take your speaking skills to a new level. It will also help your audience connect and take in your words. When you use storytelling in a speech, people can better understand and remember your point and apply it to their own lives when necessary. 

The Importance of Story

When reading an engaging book, do you ever see the events playing out in your mind? A good story told in front of you can do that too. People love and need stories. It’s how history has been passed down and how we learn valuable information in a way we can remember and relate to. Without stories, the world would be a much more dry and unengaging place. 

Storytelling also engages the brain more thoroughly. If you receive plain and simple directions or information, the brain only activates in a couple of areas. But when you tell a story, there is much more brain activity, and it is as though the story is actually happening to the listener. This means people gain more information from a story and have a more profound experience when hearing it. 

Think about all the times you asked someone to do a task, and it wasn’t done correctly. Or when you had to remember something like a list, but it slipped your mind. Then think about some of your favorite stories people have told you or that you have read. How many of those minute details do you remember when they took place within a story? By relaying information, a perspective, or advice through the lens of a story, people remember it more easily and have a better chance of applying it. When you’re a corporate speaker, this is invaluable. 

However, this isn’t as simple as writing a story that applies to your advice. There are several things to consider to make your storytelling persuasive, valuable, and memorable.

Storytelling: Know Your Audience

This is one of the most important parts of storytelling for a corporate audience. Learning about the audience you’re speaking to should provide the necessary information to prepare the right stories and messages. You may not know how to relate to everyone initially. Take your time researching and learning about what is most pertinent for these individuals, and consider the best message to deliver. Sometimes the same story can be used differently, but the presentation should depend on the people listening. 

Ask yourself what they are most interested in and how you can connect your experiences to help with their current situation. Storytelling is a universal tool for connecting and teaching, so you can relate to any audience you come across; it may just take some time to figure out how. 

Learn How To Tell A Story

Your immediate thought might be, “I know how to tell a story. I told my friend a great story yesterday.” But storytelling from the position of a speaker is very different. When you tell a story to a friend, you may be trying to relay information or get a laugh. But when you are storytelling as a corporate speaker, you are trying to inform, influence, engage, and teach your audience. 

There are a lot of components you want to include and some you want to avoid. It takes planning and organization to know where to take your story and how to connect it to your purpose. Here are some essential points to remember when crafting your story: 

  1. Capture Attention: You want to engage the audience immediately. Relate to them through any lens you feel will be most impactful, whether shared interests or goals, emotions, or current events in the industry. You need to grab their attention so they can get the most out of the rest of your speech. 
  1. Educate And Engage: Providing interesting information, from facts to stats, can draw in an audience and leave them listening for more. But don’t forget to balance that with the story’s heart, including characters, the five senses, and emotion. 
  2. Keep It Quick: When you’re presenting as a corporate speaker, you’ve been given a time allotment or provided one. Learn how long a story takes and how long it needs to take. Don’t meander around the point, and don’t rush through it. One of the biggest mistakes people make is taking too long and wanting to stretch the time. But an audience can tell when you’re counting the minutes, so create a speech that flows well and uses the time wisely without overdoing it. 

A good story includes these while serving a purpose. What is the purpose of your story? And how can you provide that information in a way different people can understand and use in their own lives? 

Know Your Story

When preparing for a speech, consider how well you know your story. Have you the time to craft a flowing speech that engages and inspires action? Does it go on for the right amount of time, or will people be yawning by the end? You must work within a delicate balance of being prepared and not overly rehearsed. If you are too stiff and too practiced, people won’t be able to connect with you as well. 

Be sure you know your story and who you’re talking to. You don’t want to miss or leave out key components in a story, but you also don’t want to have it so memorized that there is no room for adjustment. An excellent corporate speaker can apply their experiences to many different situations and fields. 

Be Organized in Storytelling

Plan out what you want to say. Don’t just assume you know a good story and will remember it in the moment. Write out a speech, time it, and see where you can adjust. You don’t need to memorize every detail, but you should know the crucial moments to include to do the story justice and get your entire point across. We’ve all told a story, forgotten how it ends, or even ignored the middle part. If you’re preparing a persuasive and inspiring speech, this shouldn’t happen or even be possible because you have prepared. 

As mentioned above, you don’t need to have your story down to the last word, so you have wiggle room when presenting. But you do need to be organized and prepared. Practicing will help you note where a speech drags or when a story needs more flare to keep the audience engaged. 

Stay Humble, Stay Human

It might be tempting only to tell success stories. But is this the most valuable thing relating to the topic at hand? Are these stories helpful to your audience? Some of them might be, and they are excellent to include, but check your ego before taking center stage. A story filled with bragging and self-celebration isn’t always relatable or interesting. If you are trying to inspire others, some success might be necessary to mention, but be sure to remain humble in telling such events. People need to feel that success is attainable for them, and if you suggest you’re the most naturally gifted person in the room, no one will feel that same success is possible. 

Even if you’re speaking on a stage above an audience, talk to them like they’re next to you. People want to be spoken to like they are on the same level. No one wants to be talked down to, and you’re far more inspiring and relatable when you come off as a fellow human being. 

A Story To Inspire

We have all been inspired to act, often through a story or message someone else relayed. Words are powerful, and stories can change lives. Using your works to inspire others can be incredibly valuable and beneficial, but you can’t go in unprepared. Learn about your audience and what they need, and learn how to tell a compelling story to that group. Everyone is looking for ways to relate, so don’t make it hard for people to see you as a human with human stories. 
If you step up with an honest and impactful story, knowing how it flows and where to land, you’ll be able to inspire others through your own experiences. Many moving and fascinating tales are already out there to help get you started, but remember that storytelling is a key component of good corporate speaking. If you want to watch an expert in action, reach out to Chris Dyer today. Chris Dyer is a renowned remote work and company culture expert, ranked by Inc Magazine as the #1 Leadership Speaker on Culture.