8 Reasons Why Speakers Tell Stories

Christopher Witt —  January 8, 2015

Good speakers tell storiesHuman beings have been telling stories probably since the invention of speech, itself. And speakers—good ones, at least—have been telling stories ever since.

“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal,” according to Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University.

I think stories are the single most powerful weapon in a speaker’s arsenal.

Why Tell Stories in a Speech? Here Are 8 Reasons…

  1. Stories are naturally appealing.
    Children as young as two or three years of age can listen to and understand a story. And adults never really lose their love of a good story.
  2. Stories give order and meaning to chaos.
    We live in a complex world that can seem random and meaningless. A good story, which has a beginning, middle, and end, gives a sense of order and meaning to things. It shows us how things fit together.
  3. Stories break down resistance.
    We don’t always see where a good story is heading. It isn’t linear or logical, so we tend not to analyze it or to oppose it. We listen to it, enter into it, and experience it. We use our imaginations, not our critical mindsets.
  4. Stories are energizing.
    For most us, listening to an analytic and logical presentation takes energy and concentration. We work our way through it, as we once worked our way through math or science homework. By contrast, a story captures our interest and attention. We experience new worlds, seeing things in new ways, and we’re more alive as a result.
  5. Stories change perceptions.
    A story “frames” how we see people, how we view their motives, how we understand causes and effects.
  6. Stories are memorable.
    Long after people have forgotten everything else about a speech, they remember the stories. And stories, if well-chosen, remind them of the main points of the speech.
  7. Stories engage our feelings.
    As we enter into a story, we identify with the characters and experience what they are going through. Their heightened emotions heighten ours. A good story often causes us to laugh, sigh, wipe away a tear, or cheer—and sometimes it does all of those things at the same time.
  8. Stories communicate something of the storyteller.
    Even if we tell someone else’s story, we invest something of ourselves in it. And if we tell our personal story we reveal even more of ourselves. A story is the quickest way to speak from our heart to the hearts of your audience.

I have undoubtedly left something out. But I hope I’ve adequately stress why I believing speakers should tell stories.

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

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    […] Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a speaker’s arsenal. Here are 8 reasons why you should tell stories in a speech.  […]