Stage Time: “Does Your Storytelling Need an Emotional Rescue?”

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She grabbed me and I loved it. It was a very puffy speech. I say “puffy” as a compliment. As I listened I was so moved, I was eyeing the box of Puffs next to me, but instead chose to just wipe the tears from my eyes without moving an inch. I was caught up in the emotion of her story.

As many people were evaluating their own speech a seemingly unrelated topic came up. A veteran speaker asked me, “How do I compete with someone who is very entertaining and has a huge presence?” Well, number one you can’t “compete” with decades of stage time. Whether it is a professional keynote speech or in a speech competition my answer is the same. When all other factors are the same, humor wins. However, if the story is emotionally gripping and offers a powerful lesson, that will win out over humor every time.

Do they all have to be emotional gripping stories to have a good speech. No. They do, I believe, have to have emotion in them. But not “narrated” emotion, “felt” emotion.

Narrated emotion is when a presenter “says” what the actual emotion is. Example a presenters says: “So, Bob nervously picked up the bill.”

Telling us what the emotion is, is not compelling. Let us see his emotion by “the way” the character moves. Many presenters when telling their stories are up in the head “thinking” of what they are going to say next. Here is my storytelling delivery principle: If you are in your head, your emotions are dead.

So, don’t say it, let us see it.

If I could get presenters, especially in the corporate arena to identify the emotions of their characters and how that emotion changes it would instantly make them a better storyteller.

I mentioned this in a previous article, but since there are so many new subscribers I wanted to come at it again at a slightly different angle. This aspect of storytelling is worth revisiting even if you have read the previous article because it is crucial to leave a lasting impact.

If you have not seen my speech: “Ouch!” there is a story where I go home to tell my parents I want to become a comedian. Click here if you want to see it again. (The story is at the 5:24 mark.)

First list the characters in your story. In my story there are three characters.

My story diagram would look like:

Darren’s “Storytelling Secret” Diagram

CHARACTERS BEGINNING EMOTION ENDING EMOTION
Mom
Dad
Darren

 

I could give you the answers, but I believe it will leave more of a lasting impression on you as you identify them.

If you do this quick exercise with each of your stories, I promise you will become a better storyteller. The next step would be to have a friend watch a video of you speaking and see if a friend can identify the emotions of your characters… without hearing you speak. Meaning, turn the sound off.

That would be a fun / telling exercise. I promise.

This does not guarantee your speeches will be puffy. I’m willing to bet that they will be more compelling than they were. Have you ever identified the emotions of your characters like this? Did it help? What do you think of this idea?

Share your comments here on my blog.

Stage time,

Darren
Darren LaCroix
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking

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P.S. Lady & the Champs Speakers’ Conference 2012 new programs include: How to Write a Speech (Fripp), Manage Things, Lead People (Ed), Mastering Back of the Room Selling (Craig), and Seriously? What Will You Speak About? (me). Check it out! Click Here!

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Patricia Fripp forwarded this from a Lady & the Champs attendee…

Dear Patricia,

Thank you for the amazing two days. The information was so helpful in directing me in the right direction.

I am just starting to look over my notes, this was the first opportunity I have had since the training. I really loved working with all of you. It really helps everyone who learns differently. I must admit I did feel a bit overwhelmed with so much information, but that is why I came.

Best Wishes, Jan

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Comments

2 Responses to “Stage Time: “Does Your Storytelling Need an Emotional Rescue?””
  1. Laura LeDoux says:

    Hi Darren:

    I’m preparing for my International Speech Area Contest, and this advice was both timely and helpful. I really liked the idea to watch my videos without sound. VERY powerful. I always enjoy your newsletter. Thanks again!

    Take care,

    Laura

  2. Paul Holmes says:

    Darren, I really appreciate your comment about the need for people in the corporate arena to get to grips with the emotions of their characters.

    Some time ago I had to evaluate a fellow Toastmaster who was presenting an advanced assignment in which he represented a company chairman delivering his annual report. Now, this gentleman was in real life very senior in the business world, and he was also one of our best speakers, so I expected something exciting from him.

    What actually happened was he stood behind a table and read a report that had no structure, no humour and not a hint of emotion in it. I gave the best evaluation I could, and afterwards asked why he’d given such a flat and dull speech when I knew he could do so much better. ‘But that’s the way it’s done in business,’ he said.

    Well, not if you want to make an impact!

    Thanks for the newsletter, Darren, as always full of useful ideas.

    Paul /.

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