Today, I judged at a speech tournament for the first time since graduating from 6 years of the activity. The two rounds that I judged consisted of seven different ten-minute speeches on topics of the student’s choosing.
Besides having some serious nostalgia, I noticed the effect of something that I learned while in speech.
The best speakers told stories.
I’ve done an infographic on this subject here, but it’s always interesting to see the science play out in the way I evaluate speeches in real time.
I’ve always wondered what makes some speakers more engaging than others. A lot of it has to do with speaking style and movement. But it also has to do with content.
Instantly, as soon as you start telling a good story, the listener’s brain starts firing in certain patterns. These patterns are identical to the patterns found in the storyteller’s brain. Their brains are physically syncing up.
Listening to a story literally engages more areas of the brain than listening to statistics and facts.
When one of the speakers I was judging started telling a good story, I was instantly on the same page with them – completely engaged in what they were saying. They were communicating effectively, even if they weren’t amazing speakers.
Then there were the people who were polished and articulate speakers. But that didn’t matter if they didn’t tell stories. I found my attention wandering in spite of the fact that they were good at speaking.
You can be a smooth, clear speaker with your emphasis and pauses in the right spots. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a good communicator.
It takes connection to accomplish good communication. One way to achieve that connection is to tell stories.
Even if you don’t have the need to speak in front of people, you can better your everyday communication through storytelling. Start paying attention. A lot of people who are well-liked and charismatic tend to be good at storytelling.
To put it simply – tell stories.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on what makes a good story.