If you’re going to talk, please tell us something interesting. The best way to make your talk interesting is to tell a story. Since we were cavemen scratching lines on the walls of caves, we have been storytellers. And the best messages are those that include great stories.
Storytelling is vital to any message. And if it’s important, then we have to ask “What makes a great story?” How do we tell compelling stories so that our audience knows what we’re thinking, hears what we’re saying, and follows through with action? Here are three ingredients that every story must have in order to be a great story.
1. It’s Relatable
Each story should be instantly relatable to your audience so they can pick it up and make it their own. If they can’t see themselves in the story, then they’ll likely check out.
The most relatable stories are those from everyday life. A story about dropping the kids off at school, going grocery shopping, paying your taxes, or even mowing the lawn. Most people in your audience will be able to relate to these stories almost automatically. The mundane can seem boring, but when told from the right angle these stories are very compelling.
Even if the subject of the story is unfamiliar to your audience – like the story of a professional athlete, a noble prize winning scientist, or an ancient ruler – it can still be relatable if you tell it from the standpoint of the person. A great story is one that gets into the life of the audience and walks around a bit.
2. It’s Relevant
What is relevance? It’s a connection to a greater truth. You might have had a very interesting experience while on vacation. Okay, you can tell the story…but why? What’s the purpose? What greater truth did you learn in the experience that you want to share with us?
And great truths aren’t always learned through great experiences. Sometimes the most mundane of stories can have a huge impact when it’s relevant to your audience’s life. Maybe you learned something about God’s love while coaching your son’s t-ball game. Or perhaps you found a new angle on grace while walking to your car in a busy parking lot. Those stories work because they are relevant, and they are relevant because they connect your audience to that greater truth.
3. It’s Remembered
I’ve read my fair share of police reports in my day. That’s because once upon a time I was an insurance adjuster. It always struck me how boring police reports were. They contain just the facts, ma’am. But when I would speak to someone involved in the accident, that’s when it got good! I got all the juicy details. And that’s when a mundane story turned into a memorable one.
If you want your story to be remember, you have to include details. Just giving us a list of facts about an event isn’t story telling – it’s a police report. But when you add in the details – the sights and sounds, the smells that were there – people transport themselves to the scene. And those are the times they remember your story.
When using stories in your message it’s always important to not lose sight of the end goal – the point of your message. But when your story is relatable, relevant, and remembered, it’s so much easier for that story to polish the point your making.
What are some to the best stories you’ve heard in a message? What made them so memorable?