Public speaking & professional presentation – the magic of storytelling

public speaking and presentation
Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh, a Communications Strategist

“You are a storehouse of amazing stories, untold speeches and applaud-winning presentations.”Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh

Ever sat through a long, boring lecture? One of those ones that a glance across the hall reveals many people doing things on the side or having the same bored look as you? As a student of personal and professional development, I have been at one too many programmes which shared exciting content briefs to excite us to participate.

The challenge, however, is many of these sessions are inundated with speeches and delivery styles characterised by perfect lack-lustre. At such sessions, you leave the venue of the programme just as you came. Interestingly, I have been enchanted at some other events. The delivery of speakers, trainers or facilitators was just awe-inspiring. Laced with captivating speeches, they served a menu that made patrons want to pay for more.

Why are we enamoured and smitten by a particular speaker while our mind seeks to go on a vacation when another speaks? Stories! Yea, Ananse stories. Relax, I mean these speakers probably have said the same thing as the other speaker yet the results are entirely different. Creative stories can embellish your speech. Humans have always wanted to listen to stories. We all have stories to tell others. We tell stories each and every day. From our statuses on WhatsApp to our profile pictures on Twitter. We are constantly enveloped by many stories each demanding our attention. Why should anyone listen to you or give you the attention you deserve/desire?

As an author, I love reading as this is one of the sure ways to improve upon my learning and provide improved content for my material. I enjoy various subjects, including books on finance and money. Well, I mean I wish books on finance and money would be more lenient with us. I don’t think anyone offended any of the authors.

Many readers simply cannot relate to the terminologies and jargon used in such discourse. I wasn’t so bad in mathematics; at least I recall my differentiation dy over dx theorems in elective math and the confusing ‘find x’ in both core and e-math. I am however not enthused with any approach that seeks to remind me why most of my colleagues and I didn’t know what to do with the extra sheets we asked for during exams, or at best didn’t make the most of the fx calculator. Enough!

However, a quick skimming of the first chapter of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki changed my mentality in the blink of an eye. Before I realised, I was rummaging through pages of the book as though it were my favourite novel. It explained very complex financial concepts in an intricate story of a boy with two fathers who had very opposite views on making and spending money. In that book, I saw the power of storytelling!

Doing something entirely different from what was popular, Kiyosaki weaved an interesting story that many who picked up the book from shelves across the world related to. ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ by Johnson Spencer is another bestseller that explains the very obvious and mundane concept of change with a riveting story of Haw, Hem, Sniff and Scurry. If Spencer had given a straight-to-the-point lecture on change in the book, I doubt it would be a bestseller. Using the power of storytelling, he schooled the globe on change; a subject many of us are already privy to.

As a teaching assistant at Merton International, books that told great stories had me by the neck. While my friends saved up for shoes that were definitely needed, I blew my money on every book that a friend, mentor or someone else recommended. I can tell you with no regrets that every story I read in those books was worth the cedis I spent on them.

Take a moment to recall all of the speakers or writers you have granted audience to in the last month: which of them do you think communicated perfectly their message to you? Do you still recall the central message? Why? Mostly, our minds cannot forget a story quickly. That’s why even for those of us who cannot seem to memorise scripture verses and chapters, we still recollect the parables of Jesus. You may not know exactly where it is in the Bible, but you know what the entire parable is about.

Jesus, knowing the power of storytelling, chose to use this powerful tool to convey his messages and teachings. The same way, we like to listen to pastors who spice-up their teachings with stories we can relate to. EvenP scheme she fell for. In short, great stories help our audience imagine and remember. Make good use of them.

Why don’t you doze-off when you are listening to an interesting story by any speaker? This is because it engages your mind. You listen with your ears as your mind tries to answer questions which are evident in the story. We try to predict the end as the story goes on. We try to see ourselves in the story, to form a visual representation of the characters that we have not seen physically. We are fully engaged with the story.

We are all storytellers. We may not know I, but we are. Every idea we wish to convey, every product we wish to sell and every concern that we raise is a story in itself. Now that we know the power of storytelling, let’s use it to our advantage. As a professional, pastor, lecturer, teacher or trainer, drive home your message much easier with great stories. Make you no bore your students.

>>>the writer is a corporate trainer, professional ghost-writer and publishing consultant assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via: [email protected]


Leave a Reply