Using storytelling to activate empathy in public speaking
Storytelling is an effective way of transporting your audience so that they can literally see the world from a new point of view. It can be difficult to get your audience to ‘feel’ an emotion, particularly if you only have a short space of time to get your message across.
So many speakers focus too much on their content, rather than how they want their audience to THINK, FEEL, and ACT at the end. After all, it’s their emotions that will cause them to remember what you’ve said so that they take action.
If your message involves something that your audience may not have experienced before, using storytelling in your presentation or speech will help create a sense of connection and trust. It will make your audience feel bonded as if they’ve gone through an experience together.
Here are some of the ways you can activate empathy to get your message across:
What are your audience’s expectations?
Before you even start writing your speech, think about why your audience is there? What do they want to learn from you?
The audience wants to get something out of the presentation – it might be a game-changer for how they manage their teams, a new perspective on leadership, or a life-changing belief.
The question for you as a presenter, is will you conform to their expectations? OR could you be the unexpected speaker in the way you deliver your presentation and the emotions you make them feel? This can also have an incredible impact on them too!
Emotions are what motivates us
Emotions can often dictate our actions and cause us to behave in a certain way. If you are happy, you’ll be energized to do something in a certain way. On the other hand, if you are feeling sad or low, you may be less inclined to feel motivated and put things into action.
Identify the emotions that you want your audience to feel at the end of your speech – then target your narrative, your delivery and your word choice toward that.
How do we know it’s working?
It can be difficult to read your audience, particularly if you are not an experienced public speaker, but here are a few signs that you’ve created empathy and stirred emotion:
- Your audience are ACTIVE listeners. You can see them listening more intensely and becoming active participants in your presentation.
- They make eye contact with you; they laugh at appropriate times and show the right emotion on their face when you are making a point.
- You’ll feel energized from them because you’re focused more on your audience and the story you’re telling, rather than you.
- You’ll be remembered, often even years later because you stirred an emotion in them that won’t be easily forgotten.
Storytelling as a leadership tool
Storytelling is not just a technique that you can use for presentations and public speaking, it can also be used to drive a change in employee mindsets so that better outcomes can be achieved.
Beliefs from our culture or background can limit our thinking, forcing us to see the world a certain way. Stories invite people to suspend their beliefs about what might be possible, and about how they can contribute to a certain goal or outcome in the workplace.
These stories don’t necessarily need to be true stories. You can create characters that represent certain stereotypes and find a storyline to illustrate your message. You just need to make it believable!
Do you want to become an INCREDIBLE storyteller? Download my 6 Cs for Effective Storytelling which is an invaluable guide that gives you the techniques every presenter or speaker needs to use.