4 tools to deliver a better story

A few weeks back, we looked at building a story.

Storytelling. Conveying a message. Helping people believe what you believe.

These all contain massive arbitrage vs other strategies, because a lot of people suck at this, or pay it insufficient attention.

But whilst nailing down what you say matters, how you say it can help close out some gaps in a story. It can carry a weaker message and make it stronger. And of course, with a great story, deliver it well and you’ve got a home run.

Let’s talk about 4 areas of improving the how when we deliver a story:

  1. Speed

This could be one of the most misunderstood tools. It can be easy to mistake high speed with high energy, and that high energy alone is a good delivery.

Whilst you want to have energy, going really really fast and talking super quick all the time is draining and ineffective.

Eventually you exhaust the capacity for the audience to keep pace and also neglect another way to build excitement.

Speak... really... slowly...

Slowing right down is a great way to heighten attention. We lean in to understand what’s coming next, paying closer attention than we would to 1X speed.

  1. Pauses

Filling every second of a pitch or speech is a mugs game.

Edit it to the bone. Which gives you time... to pause.

Pausing, much like slow speech, dials our attention up. Typically the longer the pause, the greater the suspense, up till a point where you might just look like you forgot your lines.

Pausing after key facts, questions you want them to consider, or visionary statements of change are helpful to allow that to settle.

Think of where you want your audience to savour and reflect on a point, like a wine with a long finish, and give them time to enjoy the taste.

  1. Intonation

Monotone = audience groans.

Flat, monotonous voices are good for one thing - sending us to sleep.

Infecting high and low gives the language bounce. It dances. Prancing high and low. Rather than sluggishly moving along like long sentences that never end.

Obviously I don’t recommend shrieking, but adding high and low notes, especially combined with speed of delivery can really help.

  1. Body language

Probably the most talked about part of delivery.

For me there are two key points here. Preparation and delivery.

Preparation - mirror at home, speak as much as you can before it counts, watch video of you talking, watch the greats.

Directly before speaking, use the Superman pose/mountain pose to get the juices going and body ready.

Delivery - purposeful movements. So many people ‘gesture from the elbow’, ending up looking like T-Rex’s selling startups. You have a whole arm. If you’re pointing, point. If you’re extending your arm, extend it.

Find places in your story where body language can enhance the point. Counting on your fingers if there’s 3 points. Slicing outwards if you’re talking about the destruction or end of something. Movement from one spot to another with purpose if you’re talking about a shift between an old state and new.

The key with body language when presenting is make it purposeful but natural. Don’t half heart it when you’re doing it. But as you practice expressing yourself meaningfully with your body as you speak, it’ll be natural in appearance but definite in action.

Mix all 4 techniques for maximum effect. Go get em.

PS - first 3 points make even more difference in this Zoom first world.

Get more content like this. Every Sunday.
Join the newsletter below.
← View all posts