How to Use Storytelling in Public Speaking

Joann Baney pic
Joann Baney
Image: sipa.columbia.edu

Co-founder of the Professional Development Company, Joann Baney specializes in training business executives to effectively communicate. Her professional experiences through the company and as an associate professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs combine to give Joann Baney valuable knowledge of strategies to improve public speaking.

To gain and hold the attention of the audience during a public speaking engagement, it is useful to tell a story. This allows the speaker to define key narrative points for discussion and provide supporting examples that audiences can understand. The presentation should include basic information that some people may already know and then build to incorporate more comprehensive facts and details. This keeps the topic interesting and informative without overwhelming the audience.

A story should include words and phrases that appeal to the senses. For example, the speaker needs to incorporate words that help people visualize colors and objects, connect to an experience, and understand the deeper meaning. To keep the storyline moving at an ideal pace, it is best to avoid dry, longwinded explanations and focus on a story that is dynamic and engaging.

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