How To Be A Great Storyteller – Lessons From PSS 2019

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While everyone else was celebrating the republic day relaxing or holidaying, a bunch of us chose to do it differently this time. We were at the first-ever Professional Speakers Summit in India, learning, sharing knowledge, laughing, collaborating and enjoying the company of not only our own fellow speakers from India but also international speakers like Fredrik Haren, James Taylor, Sha Nacino, Prakash Iyer, Amit Prakash, T Chendil Kumar, Omran Matar, Bijay Gautam, Chetan Mahajan, Amar Ramesh, Kiruba Shankar, Pravin Shekar and many others.

A true amalgamation of stars of the speaking industry had gathered to share their wisdom selflessly, for the benefit of the newcomers. With one single objective in mind, making the fertile Asian Speakers’ community ready for the predicted future assignments globally.

As expected it started with an emotional tribute to our National Anthem… The entire room full of 150+ people, each one of them standing in attention and singing loudly with emotional vigour.

After James Taylor’s poised and thought-provoking opening session, we got a chance to listen to Prakash Iyer. For the benefit of those of you who aren’t aware of who Prakash is; he is a renowned author of three best-selling books, The Secret of Leadership, Habit of Winning, You too Can.

As he took the stage and shared his wisdom around storytelling, he spoke about his driver, who taught him important lessons in life. When Prakash displayed the picture of his driver and asked us to identify, obviously we couldn’t. This was one of the best realizations from his speech. Inspiration and learning can happen from anywhere. You don’t need to look around for these, they happen partially unconsciously among the mundane and boring ways of life.

I am sharing a few learnings from his session on storytelling:

1. Stories are everywhere. We just need to observe and have an eye to see them.

Which means we can look for stories anywhere and everywhere, in our mundane daily lives, while travelling, while speaking to someone, even while sitting in the toilet! Idea is to have a knack to observe unusual things in usual things and weave an interesting story around it.

2. When you are storytelling, get to the point as quickly as you can.

No one likes boring stories without a crystal clear point. Hence, getting to the point as quickly as possible is super important.

3. Remember your AIM – Audience, Intent and Message from the story you are telling.

While deciding on a story, keep your audience in mind. What is the intention behind telling that story and what message you want the audience to draw from the same? It is absolutely must to tailor your stories accordingly.

4. Keep the story simple.

This is effortlessly simple and my most favourite. We always think we need to come up with something complex to make an impact, but most often the simplest of stories have the best of impact.

5. Tell a story and not an epic.

The audience is looking for quick bites and not a seven-course meal. Give them quick stories that are impactful, avoid giving them lengthy epics.

6. The finest and more effective stories come from around us.

Again one of my favourite. Most often we fail to realize that we always have some super effective stories around us. It’s us who refuse to see it. It’s important to remember to see those stories and depict them with confidence and ease.

7. Think about “what story can I tell, which will be beneficial for others?”

It’s absolutely essential to tell stories that are useful for the audience, not something random or something you like. Storytelling should be outward driven.  

8. Pick stories of ordinary people.

I was moved how Prakash narrated the story of his driver. After listening to him and looking back I realize this very well. Most often ordinary people have extraordinary stories. So go ahead feel free to pick those stories and share it with the right audience.

9. Use AI while picking stories. Be Always Inquisitive.

I could have never imagined a more coolest expansion of AI! It’s simple and most effective, other than necessity, inquisitiveness is definitely the mother of invention. Imagine, if Newton didn’t have an inquisitive, we would never know about gravity today!

10. Write down the stories for later reference.

Last but not least, make sure to write down each one of your stories. It’s important to write down, because we underestimate our memories often. Also, this becomes a stories library for future reference. I am going to act on this item immediately. Hereafter all my stories will be kept written.

Like every other session in the PSS 2019, this one was amazing, full of funny anecdotes and effortless learning. The simplistic approach and layman language helped to learn quickly and effectively.

Stay tuned for more such learnings from #PSS2019 #mylearningPSS2019

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Author | Professional Speaker