5 rules for storytelling that apply to any business presentation

Has it been a while since you went to the library to personally hear a fairy tale read? Probably, that’s kids stuff isn’t it? Albert Einstein said: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” This could also apply to adults as Michael D. McCarty, a professional story teller, explained on a recent evening at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

First, just the fact there is such a thing as professional story tellers should tell us all that storytelling is for grown ups. Michael wears on his belt buckle the word GRIOT. As a historian of African and African-American Stories, he explained that the role of the griot, common across West Africa, is as a chronicler of history – keeping track of the history and developments of his people over time. The griot is also guardian of the knowledge of his people’s ancestry, or genealogy. This history may never be written down so the griot is crucial to keeping the records of the past.

Kings, families and villages would all have had a griot. A close friend of McCarty’s in Africa described how important the griot’s role was. At battle, each side would bring a griot to record the events. If a warrior would find the need to do battle with someone and the griot was in the way, the griot would be asked to step aside. The griot would never be killed.

Stories bind us together, and that is why I continue to advise all business presenters to collect stories and factoids. Barry Lopez said it best: “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them and learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than they need food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each others’ memory. This is how people care for themselves.”

Mr. McCarty, after entertaining and educating his audience, gave 5 rules for storytelling that apply to any business presenter:

  1. There is no one right way to tell a story.
  2. Each time you tell the same story it will be told in a different way to reflect the needs of the audience and the teller’s ability to manipulate story mood to create drama, humor, suspense, or evoke empathy for the listener.
  3. Do not compare yourself to another teller. Learn from one another.
  4. Each teller is unique and talented.
  5. A quiet well-told tale is just as marvelous as an animated well-told tale.

Become a story teller and you will become a better business presenter. Look in your community for an evening with a professional story teller. There is much to learn from the fabrics they weave.

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Picture by Michael D. McCarty at www.HaveMouthWillRunIt.com

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