To communicate well you need to find a common level of understanding. At its highest (most intellectual) point it can be a professor sharing knowledge to his or her students, on the lowest level it can be two people engaged in physical arm to arm combat or a couple making love.
However somewhere between these extremes is the power of a really good story. There is no doubt in my mind that a powerful story can have an enormous impact. For managers, consultants and leaders it is one of the finest ways of sharing personal vision, beliefs and insight. And if the story can be reduced to a single line or slogan, then the chance of it being remembered long after it was originally told will increase dramatically.
Take Shakespeare, for example – how many people know the story of Romeo and Juliet and how many people remember the line “Romeo, Romeo where for art thou Romeo?” Take Hamlet with its litany of one liners:
‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice’ (listen more than speak)
‘Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy’ (live within your means)
‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend’ (do not lend or borrow money, especially with friends because you are likely to lose both).
Last week a colleague told me a story about his childhood, growing up on a Greek island. The story was powerful and engaging, it shared with me the innermost thoughts and values of the story teller. It turned a colleague into a friend; someone that I felt I could rely on in times of need.
What is your story? Everyone needs to have their own. How do you ensure that people remember you after your first encounter is over? How do you install in your listeners a feeling of trust? Your story needs to be clear, engaging and in its very essence true (you can embellish a little but only for the sake of entertainment and good communication).
Make sure your story can be edited for length, to slip comfortably into the amount of time you have with your audience and not to fill it completely. A good rule of thumb is anywhere from thirty minutes to thirty seconds. Look straight into the eyes of your listeners. If you lose their engagement, adjust the length but never the content. It is your story, share who you really are. Your story should not be used as a weapon or a con trick to win the favor of your audience. For as Shakespeare wrote (again in Hamlet): ‘to thine ownself be true’ (be genuine, be true to yourself). You are who you are and although you may aspire to being someone else, it is you that matters and not who you might want to be or become that is relevant in business. Those matters are for you and your councilors.
Enjoy your week