How To Be A More Engaging Story Teller

Often, after we have worked tirelessly on the content of our presentation, we find ourselves strangely disengaged and disconnected from its delivery. Even if we can master our nerves and control our shaking hands, we sometimes feel ’disembodied’ from something that, once upon a time, we were not only passionate about but deeply connected to.

This can lead to a disappointing experience for presenters, as well as a missed opportunity to influence and persuade the audience with our message.

Actors (myself included) have experienced this disconnect at times when trying to bring a character to life. No matter how hard we work at it, the soul of the character can remain outside of us and out of reach.

Drawing on my experience, having trained as an actor at the National Institute of Dramatic Art – and, subsequently, using my training to teach business-minded individuals how to improve their presentation skills as a Course Manager for NIDA Corporate – I have learned how to use imaginative activities to establish a greater connection to the content.

For anyone feeling disembodied from their content, imaginative tools can make a significant mental shift by trusting that our story lives within us and is not something foreign that sits outside of us.

Shifting our focus from merely conveying information, to instead revealing a story that is an intrinsic part of us, is an effective way of engaging our audience. We can move from talking at our audience to taking them on a journey through the power of our story – thereby enhancing the experience for both the audience as well as ourselves.

We are ‘hard-wired’ for the story and look for connection and meaning wherever we can find it.

‘Every culture bathes their children in stories to explain how the world works and to engage and educate their emotions’. 

Stories, in particular, have been used as a therapeutic medium ‘to teach, to comprehend, to influence and to develop self-understanding as well as an understanding of our unique social worlds’.

What can we take away from this? 

To deliver a presentation as a story, we must work hard on the preparing the content to trust in what we are conveying and then focus on the joy of revealing it. Think about surprising, invigorating, warming or elevating the audience. It is down to you to engage the audience with an illuminating narrative.

As soon as we the feel the story sits outside of us we are in danger of ‘reaching’ for our content. If we reach for our content it will always feel foreign to us and we’ll never quite have ownership of it.

The audience can read this a number of ways: perhaps the presenter is nervous; perhaps unsure of the content; perhaps the content is not true? In any case, they may read your presentation as not being authentic.

In any case, they may read your presentation as not being authentic. However, if we trust the work and are energised by revealing it to our audience, there can be a magic in the room.


About Your Guest Blogger: Sonia Todd is a Course Manager at NIDA Corporate and a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and has worked extensively in television, theatre and film. As a NIDA Corporate tutor, Sonia facilitates training workshops and coaching for a range of companies in both the public and private sectors.