Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Engage Your Audience with a Story

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Are you telling stories to engage your audience?

Over the weekend, I took my kids and my parents to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to see Pompeii: The Exhibition.

Walking through the exhibit, you see that each artifact has a placard on/near it with details about what the item is. If you'd like, you can also use an audio device that allows you to hear more details about many of the items.

Near the end of the exhibit, you come upon a room filled with artifacts, but this room has one additional feature: a storyteller - well, really a docent, who gets into character and tells the story of what the people of Pompeii experienced as Mount Vesuvius was about to erupt and rain down on the city.

Why do I bring this up?

I mentioned that you could just read the placards to get information and insights about many of the items. Well, in this room with the storyteller, there were more people gathered around the docent than there were reading details from placards.

The storyteller engages the audience. Placards don't.

Through storytelling, the docent...
  • helps the audience understand
  • conveys what the people of Pompeii thought, did, felt
  • brings the event(s) or experience to life
  • engages the audience
  • facilitates empathy and understanding
  • helps the audience/patrons connect
  • draws the audience in
  • transports the audience
  • helps the audience relate
  • teaches them
Stories are pretty powerful. You can use them to do the same for your audience.

Think about who's listening. For example, are you trying to explain to your employees what a great customer experience looks like? Or are you trying to get buy-in from your executives? Are you simply showing them charts and statistics? Are they getting it? Probably not. Consider using stories to help them better visualize the outcomes and what is expected.

Isn't it more fun to learn from a story than it is to learn from bullet points and pie charts?

Those who tell the stories rule the world. -Hopi American Indian proverb


  1. Annette,

    I am not a religious man but I went to Church on Christmas Day. The priest stood up to preach his sermon and started to present it using PowerPoint.

    It would have been far more powerful if he had simply told his story.

    I suspect that for many of us, PowerPoint is just the lazy option.


    1. Powerpoint in church! Wow! That's a modern church. Next thing we'll hear is sermons via a GoTo Meeting webinar!

      As for story telling, Annette, if you don't already know it then I think you will like Bernadette Jiwa's work at http://thestoryoftelling.com/


    2. I love Bernadette's work. She's always spot on.