Posted on Jul 12, 2021
Many of us have heard the message that "every member has a story…so go out and tell it!"

Stories are an extremely powerful communication tool in our lives. From social media, to friend catchups, to the daily news – people are wanting to engage. Most of us find a story more relevant to our life than digesting figures, data, and statistics. At District Conferences and the Rotary International Convention, you can attend sessions and hear actual stories of achievement and success through projects. At one time or another many Rotarians have seen and heard a Foundation project presentation for example that was a story of what can be done when Rotarian set themselves to a task and where it painted a vivid picture of the fundraising impact that our conscious and subconscious minds recognise and cherish – something perhaps more relatable and memorable than statistics and charts.

People flock to TED Talks due to the power of the talks that spur the listeners to immediate action with their worldly insights! Talented speakers weave facts and emotion together to hook the listener with an unforgettable and relatable experience.

If your story is so real that it can stand hairs on end, make the heart race, make people laugh or cry or jump and clap, then you have dominated your story telling, as our brains want to hear more than words.

Storytelling is a powerful weapon that immediately catches attention and helps change worn-out beliefs with its strong influential narrative – just like in our favorite movies and tales that create a wonderful and, sometimes, personal experience for us. The whole process is biological within the brain as chemicals are released that help create new ideas. Many of us can remember the thrill of seeing films like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ – all of which are recognised movies that turned so many into viral advocates of the causes. Similarly, the famous and real life “I Have A Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King stirred our conscience about America’s prejudicial and racially unjust norms.

Story telling requires a hero, mystery, suspense and empathy; If your storytelling is made up of statistics, data, and numbers, you are faced with the challenge of turning something that excites or grips only a minority into something interesting and relatable to a larger audience. You need to bring personal experience into the story with the objective of coming out as the mentoring hero to gain the audiences empathy. For example: an accountant, who is a Rotarian, can master this technique and shock people with unexpected memorable entertainment about anything from budgets to tax rules and governance.

Consider the following elements to draw more people in when sharing your story:
  • Credibility
    • Stories need to humanise and be relatable
  • The unexpected
    • Have a climax
  • Make it memorable
    • Use metaphors /pictures
    • Create purpose and compel action
  • Create emotion
  • Keep it simple
When speeches, pitches, and presentations fail to resonate, your efforts can equally fail to deliver on their promises or the stories potential. Storytelling is important and can be the most powerful technique to make your membership sales pitch and public speaking skill stand out, just like famous TED talks do.
– Article by ARC PDG Brian Coffey