By Laura Walls in You're New. What's Next
Most of these tips come from Steve Quant's presentation at the Child Ambassador conference in January, 2013. To see his presentation and hear even more of his tips, check out the YouTube video: Storytelling. I highly recommend it!
Some people are natural storytellers. They seem to intuitively know how to captivate the hearts and minds of their listeners. We experience their moment vicariously because, through their vivid words, we're there, too.
Others, though, are more like me. I want to be a natural storyteller. I love a good story but, sometimes, when I start talking, the story seems to slip away. And as a child ambassador, I need to be able to tell a story that will capture my listener's heart. Fortunately for me, though, good storytelling can be learned.
Here are 10 tips for telling a story:
1. Start at the beginning end and work backwards.
What does that mean? Try starting out your story with a little taste of the end -- just enough to capture your listener's interest but not enough to give anything away. For example -- "Did you know that a little boy in Mozambique changed my life?" or "Anjona from Bangladesh is just 10 years old and dreams of being a doctor."
Why is this a good idea? Well, if you don't know where you're going with your story, how are you going to get there? Starting with a glimpse of the end gives your story a framework to build on. It also creates interest and curiosity on the part of your listener.
In other words, don't start out with World Vision's mission statement. This can come later, after you've grabbed their attention with your story.
2. Put yourself last.
Don't use "I" at the start of your presentation/story. Try "Would you like to hear an amazing story?" or "Do you know that a bicycle saved a life in Sri Lanka?"
3. Never be typical.
Talk naturally in a way that works for you. Use your own spin or style. The Lord has created each of us as unique individuals. Be okay with who you are and don't compare your style to someone else's style.
4. Use your own language.
Be conversational, not presentational. Try not to use terms that your audience isn't familiar with and talk to them like they're your best friend. Relax. :)
5. Don't read to me.
If you're using a Powerpoint, don't read from it. If everything you're saying is already written down in the Powerpoint, then why are you there? Use a Powerpoint as a visual tool to build on the stories you are telling.
6. Find another angle.
Try looking at your story from a new lens. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Imagine a picture of a float at the Rose Bowl. A typical story or caption would read, "This float is comprised of ____ flowers and took ____ hours to complete..." A new angle could be from the perspective of someone sitting on it. "My cheeks hurt from smiling so long and I still have two more hours to go!"
If you are showing a picture, don't just describe the facts. "This is a slum in New Delhi where over ____ children are living on the streets." What about a new angle, instead? "These children don't have a place to sleep tonight. They forage in waste cans or beg from people passing by in order to survive. They don't have anyone read them a story or tuck them in at night..." By switching the angle from which you tell your story, it may become more compelling.
7. Speak visually.
Use imagery in your story and set the scene. Was it raining? What season was it? Describe your setting using visual terms that evoke a sense of place -- describe the colors, sights, sounds, feelings... The longer the story, the more visual cues you may need. Keep it interesting.
8. What's the point?
Each story should include an element of "why." Why do you care? Why will they care? Make an emotional connection with your story yourself and, odds are, you'll make an emotional connection with your audience, as well.
9. Make a call to action.
Ask. Don't just assume that people will sponsor a child if you tell them about it. Invite them to be part of this work.
10. Be sure of your facts.
As child ambassadors with World Vision, we need to be certain our information is accurate. A good rule of thumb is, "If Rich Stearns (CEO of World Vision) was in my audience, would I be comfortable saying this?"
If you get a chance, try watching the complete version of Steve Quant's storytelling presentation from the Child Ambassador conference. I personally found it really helpful and think my presentations have become more compelling as a result. I hope it can be of service to you, as well!
May the Lord continue to bless each of you in your ministries and lives!
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.