A great story is only half the battle. This is because a great story might not be the right story for every situation, presentation, or meeting.
Here are some quick tips to help you pick the right story:
1. The "that reminds me..." test: Good, universal stories have themes that everyone can relate to, even if they haven't experienced exactly what you have. When you're working on a story for a major event or presentation, enlist some colleagues and give them a quick overview. A good sign that you're on the right track is if someone else says, "That reminds me of the time that I...." You'd be surprised that the story of your first successful pitch might remind someone of their first day of college, the birth of their child, their first hole-in-one. What matters is the large, universal theme.
2. What's in a feeling?: Some people think that the right story has to be full of sweeping emotion and dramatic events. If you've got a story that includes those elements, good for you! But don't limit "effective" or "influential" storytelling only to "touching". You can move people to action in many ways, and they don't all have to include tears and soul searching. In fact, sometimes the right story might be a small, funny one that illuminates a minor moment in your presentation.
3. Make sure all details are necessary: If you find that you lose the plot every time you tell a certain story, that's a great sign that you're getting lost in unnecessary detail. When you pick the right story, you should be able to set things up relatively simply. If you have to explain too much to make sense of your tale, you run the risk of losing your audience in the mire. If you feel you've got a great story, but you're struggling to streamline your telling, ask yourself if all of the details that you're including are necessary. More isn't always more when it comes to storytelling for business.
4. Recognize the tone of your audience or the event: This may sound simple, but people often gloss over this step and make generalizations. This isn't just about what's appropriate for a certain setting, but what will most effectively reach your audience. You might have a great story about cooking a difficult meal for a party, but the event in question might be better served with a story about your struggles as a young salesperson. If you have a few stories ready and at your disposal, you can choose between them and see what you think works best.