Do You Know What Your Audience Wants From Your Story?

I have sat around many conference tables in my 26 year career. Much of that time was spent talking about how the proverbial “we” were going to get some idea across to some people we were hoping would spend time and money with us. Over the years I’ve noticed an alarming trend. “We” tend to spend 95% of the time talking about what we want to say, and just 5 percent of the time talking about who was going to hear it.

Step one for anyone seeking to build a business narrative, organizational story or even a simple message is this: Answer how well you know your audience.

In the book Transformational Speaking, author Gail Larsen brilliantly offers one way to categorize an audience, if your goal is to move them into action (versus just entertain or educate).

The four buckets:

  1. Is your audience seeking information? Is your audience moved by data? Do they just not know much about your topic and they want to know more?
  2. Is your audience seeking insight? Are they just looking for what to do? Are they looking for someone to lead the way?
  3. Is your audience seeking to expand their imagination? Are they seeking to make something new happen?
  4. Is your audience seeking to be illuminated?  Are they seeking to be changed at a deep level? Do they want to be moved?

By knowing where you audience falls in the above four categories. you may now set the tone that gives them exactly what they want. And, when they get what they way you probably will, too.

Book Recommendation for Storytellers: Transformational Speaking

If you have embraced the power of storytelling — whether for business, a nonprofit or your own career — consider reading this book: Transformational Speaking: If You Want to Change the World, Tell a Better Story, by Gail Larsen. Formerly with the National Speakers Bureau, Larsen walks the reader through the art of telling a unique, authentic story from how to find that story to how to deliver it.

She states “There are two kinds of memorable speakers. There are those who impress us with their delivery and style and cause us to say, ‘He was a great speaker!’ – then return to our lives and work unchanged. . . Then there are those who arouse us on an inner level, awakening us to what we care about and prompting serious inquiry about the changes we’re committed to making. That’s transformational speaking.”

If you want the world to understand you, your organization, your cause, your products or services, at some point you will be called to speak. More than having a well crafted elevator pitch, you must learn to tell your story in such a way that ignites the other person to action.

This book isn’t about learning a new technique. Rather, as she says in the book, “Great speaking is less about being “fixed” than being found. When you come home to yourself and discover your best material and unique way of communicating, you’ll find there’s nothing broken.”