Research reveals that people began sharing stories over 30,000 years ago. Now, storytelling is essential when convincing customers to buy goods for business and entertainment purposes. Storytelling creates a strong sense of community and brings people together as we all share the same feelings of emotion, such as joy, fear, grief, horror, hope, and anger. 

In a business setting, influential public speakers use various storytelling techniques to boost their listening skills to entertain listeners, and entrepreneurs can leverage storytelling skills to further their career or business growth.

To effectively capture and maintain your audience’s attention, you must learn captivating storytelling methods. These methods will keep your audience hooked, longing to know what happens next.

The following 9 storytelling tips and tricks will help you improve your skills and strengthen your engagement with the audience.

1. Be Aware of The Age of Your Audience

When telling a story, take into account the age of your listeners. Age determines the content of the story, means of narration, and the appropriate time of narration. 

Also, different generations have different speech styles, slang and understanding of specific words. When addressing teens, use simple, easy-to-understand language alongside imagery to paint a mental picture to your audience, enabling them to understand your message quickly. It may also be helpful to incorporate the latest slang trends and phrases, so they find relatability to what you are conveying. When addressing adults, you can vary the complexity of language depending on their levels of education. For example, if you speak to executives and professionals, you will talk in a more formal manner that suits their level of education. 

With this storytelling tip, you may also need to customize your message and ensure that information intended for adults does not reach children. Share adult stories when children are asleep and children’s stories in the evening after school. Many parents shy away from listening to sensitive matters touching on adulthood with their children. 

This storytelling tip helps retain your audience’s attention as your audience feels a deeper connection with you when you speak directly to them in a way they understand. 

2. Be Creative

Creativity is the process of emerging with new ideas and techniques. With storytelling, you must find innovative ways to share your story uniquely. Also, devise a mechanism that will enable you; for example, when sharing a story with children, use drawings and pictures to make the story more vivid, lively, and memorable. 

The most common storytelling method to catch listeners’ attention involves sharing visual content such as photos and videos, as it allows your audience to visualize better and follow your storyline. 

By helping your audience tap into their right brain (its primary function is creativity, imagination, and visualization), your product, service, or idea will help them remember your story much better than logic and facts alone.

Incorporating creativity as a storyteller makes your story perceived as more credible, accurate, and reliable. This storytelling tip also helps build trust with your audience. As Ron Malhorta quotes, “Earning trust is the ultimate marketing strategy.”

3. Create Suspense

The technique of creating suspense is when you leave your audience hanging about what happens next in your story. Release information in a controlled way to create a thirst for your audience to follow you to the end of your story. 

Let’s say you release too much information at the introduction of your story. In this instance, the audience will not pay careful attention to you as you progress since the audience presumes they already know everything. The plot has no opportunity to thicken. Avoid sharing important plot information, for example, the death of a significant character in the story before it happens in the storyline. 

In addition, you can increase suspense in your story by introducing conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist. Doing so will keep the audience eager to listen to know what happens next. The struggle between opposing forces makes for an exciting story and an effective storytelling tip, the same way stories are written in world-class novels and movies. If there is no obstacle or challenging hurdle to overcome, there is no story. 

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4. Keep The Story Clear, Concise and to The Point

Avoid sharing stories that carry too much information as too many words can create confusion in the minds of your listeners. If they need to expend too much energy to understand and follow your story, you may find that they “zone out” as it’s easier to stop paying attention than it is to continue listening. Many people, especially business executives, don’t have time to listen to long stories about your product or service. Instead, carefully select your words to ensure the usage of fewer words than carry heavy and more profound meaning to keep the story short, concise, and to the point. 

While doing so, it’s important to thoughtfully and intelligently order the story’s introduction, body, and conclusion without omitting necessary information about your products or services to your prospective customers.

Ensure to capture the most important details that hook your listeners, keeping them eager to continue listening. If you have an excellent memory, it will help you retain vital information during the narration. 

There is always a way to share complex processes in a simplified, easy-to-understand, condensed version and avoid unnecessary details that deviate you from the story’s core theme. Once a listener has “dozed off”, it’s tough to regain their attention as they may have missed integral parts of the story that connects one scenario to another.

5. Choose Your Words Wisely

The diction used in storytelling influences how impactful your story is to your audience. Use enticing and fun words but avoid clichés to avoid putting a damper on your listeners’ desire to listen to your story. Also, eliminate repetitive words as it shows a lack of creativity that could lead your audience to boredom.

Use words that carry emotion to connect the listeners to your story. Emotional phrases swing your listeners into action, such as purchasing and using your product. If you must refer to a particular term multiple times, consider using its synonyms for variety. 

6. Have a Purpose and Structure for Your Story

Ensure your reason for telling the story is clear. Have a reason for telling the story, such as enlightening the listener in a way that stimulates their imagination, or teaches them a valuable lesson. 

A good story structure is also vital for keeping listeners’ attention glued to your narrative. If your story has an important moral lesson, you need to draw your audience’s attention to this lesson. As Ron Malhorta quotes, “The greatest life lessons come from painful experiences.” Your audience will find the story more intriguing if there is a valuable lesson they can take away from it. A clear blueprint navigates you in storytelling, restricting you from deviating from the core message. 

7. Create Conflict Between Story Characters

One of the most essential tips for good storytelling is creating conflict in the storyline. Conflict entails disagreement or opposition between the story’s central characters in storytelling. You can use three types of conflict to develop your story’s plot; the main character’s conflict with self, the conflict between two main characters in the story, and disagreement between the main character and the society. 

This storytelling technique offers you an opportunity to build tension that affects your listeners’ moods and emotions. Craft your story by introducing conflict at the start of the story, developing it in the body, and solving it at the end. This acts as a compass that directs your story. Conflict advances your story and aids the characters in developing and growing their problem-solving skills. 

Create conflict in your story by determining what the main character intends to accomplish, and then place an obstacle along the way. It is best not to devise your story in a way that enables your main characters to obtain what they intend to obtain too quickly because when your characters have obtained what they want too easily, the story loses meaning.

8. Concentrate on One Person At a Time

When addressing a large audience, craft your message as though you are speaking to one person only. Trying to speak to the entire crowd may take away your concentration from the story, and have you to lose your trail of thoughts. 

To be a compelling storyteller, you need to be able to connect well with your audience by communicating in a lively manner that keeps your listeners entertained. To help you do this, set aside time to get to know and understand your audience before you commence your story. 

Mentally assume that you are talking to one person and address all the questions they may be having. This allows you to understand their expectations, guiding you to share your story in a more relevant and captivating way with them.

Also, engage your audience to bring more excitement to the room. You can liven up your story by asking your audience questions. This interactive storytelling tip and method allows your audience to be entertained and feel involved and valued throughout the entire process. 

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9. Capture Your Audience’s Full Attention First

When you gain your listener’s full attention, you can start to share your story. Begin by setting the story’s mood by employing tonal variations and hand gestures to make the story more lively. Start your story with a shocking opening statement to best capture your audience’s attention. 

People are always searching for solutions to their challenges. Therefore, general remarks in the introduction dampen your audience’s interest. Instead, use an eye-catching statistic that motivates your audience to learn more about it and how it could potentially help solve their problems.

If your listeners are not paying full attention at the start of your story, it is difficult for them to understand the series of events if they only begin to pay attention halfway through the story. 

To conclude

Storytelling has evolved from traditional means of passing the time in the evenings to a modern marketing tool for businesses to connect and engage with an audience. Entrepreneurs can leverage these storytelling tips and tricks to create a more memorable brand image. Consumers are less likely to remember a product or service based on its features and benefits and more likely to remember a story that pulled on their heartstrings.  

The most profound way to get the most out of storytelling is by helping your audience tap into their imagination through your story. Your audience needs to visualise how your product works and the value it can provide. These storytelling techniques all save you time and allow easy transfer of information to customers. 

These types of storytelling methods are not so much innate as they are learned and refined by practice. By practising, you can develop and perfect your storytelling method. The more you relay your story, the more you can gauge how people react, what words land with them, and what tone of voice engages them the most.