When you think of inspiring people—Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Oprah—what do they all have in common? A great story to tell. A story that captivates and inspires their audience. While not all of us possess the natural gift of storytelling, we each have the ability to tell a story that inspires and moves our audience. Everyone has a story; everyone comes from somewhere, has experiences, and learned lessons that will add value to others.
But, being a gifted storyteller is only half the challenge—choosing the right story is equally important. And even the best storytellers struggle with this from time to time. Here are the markers of stories that inspire others to action:
• Teach life lessons
• Keep important traditions alive
• Say the things that are hard to hear
• Share vision
• Rally a team together
Storytelling offers an outlet to captivate an audience in a memorable way. As humans we love stories. And the stories we love usually evoke passion inside of us.
Think of your favorite movie. Why do you like it? Because the story connects with you on some level, and you can’t forget it. Just like your favorite movie, when you tell a story, you want your listener to remember it. Tactics like humor, surprise, details and emotions help keep their attention. But what is most impactful is instilling a strong, bold, and clear “punch line.” After the story ends there should be no doubt in the listeners mind as to what the message was, and why they decided to listen.
In my latest book, The Inspiration Factor, I offer seven principles for becoming the most inspirational version of yourself. One of the principles I uncover in the book is the power of telling great stories. People respond to stories better than facts and data because we remember the visuals more vividly. When a good story is told, we can picture it. We develop an image in our mind that can be referenced in the future.
To become an effective leader, cultivate a library of stories that enable you to connect with your audience and teach the lessons that matter.
What is your most moving story? Can you think of a time a story moved you to action? What about a time when a story left you feeling deflated and unmoved? Would love to hear your experiences.