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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bernard

10 Tips for Impactful Story-telling

Have you ever heard someone share their story or experience in such a way that draws you to the edge of your seat or you feel as though you’ve left the room and entered in their story?

That’s the kind of story-teller I aspire to be but not just for the sake of growing my communication. I want to make an impact and a difference through sharing stories that will help others through life. I imagine that's a desire of yours too as you read this.

Here are 10 tips to make a greater impact while sharing your stories:

1. Know your story well enough to share with passion and emotion

No one wants to be in a conversation that is dull and lacking connection. Before you share your stories, know why it’s important or special to you. Allow yourself to get passionate when speaking and communicate your emotion in the experience you had. What were you feeling in that story: joy so deep it made you laugh from your stomach, tears of happiness from a long awaited dream being fulfilled, sadness as you hugged a friend goodbye, etc.?

2. Understand what you want your listener to take away

Think about what you want the person listening to your story to walk away with. Do you want to raise awareness for a cause your passionate about, help them know more about the culture you were in, understand what you experienced, etc.?

3. Think about your listener as you share

As you enter into conversation or give a speech, try to think of bridges that will relate to them specifically from the story you’re planning to share. Is there something in your story that would make them lean in and listen even more intently because they sense a connection to their life or experience?

4. Respect the clock

As much as we all wish that we could talk about our own experiences for hours with ears eager to listen, that’s just not reality. Know the context in which you’re sharing your stories. Does this listener have one minute, 10 minutes, or just 30 seconds to hear a story of yours? Make sure to respect their time and prepare a few stories or even the same story ready to share in different time increments.

5. Choosing the right details to add

Pick the details of your story that will truly enhance it instead of distract from your main focus or what you want your listener to take away from the story. Details are great and create depth the listener can enter into. Just make sure the details are adding instead of taking away from the main point.

6. Communicate to uplift others

This point is especially true when sharing stories from being abroad or in a place that you found new and different from your normal. Share your stories in a way that will honor and respect the people of that culture, country, or the people part of the story. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t share stories that may have been a bad experience for you or to bottle up things you need to process. I’ve been there, I’ve had challenging situations from serving internationally and locally too. However, use mature discernment knowing what should or shouldn’t be shared with your listener. And please share in a way that respects those in your stories. For example: no one wants to hear about how dirty you thought their hometown was as you share with an audience of 200 people or write on your blog.

7. Allow the listener to enter into your story

Going off the first point, communicate your stories with passion and emotion so your listener can almost experience the story you’re sharing. How amazing is it to listen to someone that makes you feel as if you’re living in the story they retell or reading a good book that draws you in so deeply you forget that you’re only reading it? Share in a powerful way to allow your listener to enter into it with you.

8. Consider cultural norms

As you share stories from cross-cultural interactions, first take some time to understand the cultural norms and dynamics. This will help you to share in a respectful and informed way.

9. Give yourself grace to share or not to share

Sometimes stories that have deep emotional ties or personal significance are the perfect ones to share and other times those should be saved to tell people that you trust. Knowing the right setting and listener to share with is key. Give yourself the grace and freedom to choose when to communicate certain experiences or stories.

10. Leave your listener with lasting impact

Sharing your experiences gives you a powerful opportunity to make a difference in the life of your listener. Consider how your stories can leave an impact that they will remember or even pass on to someone else. Great stories can be retold over and over again and yet make a new and unique impact each time.

Your stories truly do make a difference and someone needs to hear them, but they won't help those who don't hear. Keep on sharing your stories!!

Do you have stories you want to share but just don’t know where to begin or how to organize your thoughts?

I created “The Leader’s Roadmap to Lasting Impact: how to clearly communicate your international experiences in 5 easy steps” for that purpose.

Grab your free roadmap HERE.


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