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Storytelling and Public Speaking



We all know that storytelling has assumed a great importance today. I have use the word storytelling deliberately so that you may disagree with me at this stage. But if I say, presentations in the commercial world today has become necessary, you will surely agree with me. Because, that exactly is the reason why you are here.
These presentations are nothing but persuasive speeches which can be effective only if it is told in an interesting fashion; only if its treated as storytelling. The facts alone do not interest any audience. Facts clothed in interesting stories do.
About 2500 years ago, Aristotle, the Greek philosopher wrote a book about persuasion. It is called The Rhetoric. The Rhetoric is still a classic par excellence on the art of persuasion, on the art of Public Speaking.
Among other things, it talks about three important factors of an interesting speech. These are: Pathos, Ethos and Logos. Before I talk about these factors and explain them, let me also emphasize what was repeatedly done by Aristotle in The Rhetoric. He repeated said that the speech must interest the audience. It must be told in an interesting manner. Impressing the audience is critical. Because if the speech does not interest the audience; they do not listen to you with the rapt attention; the entire purpose of the speech is lost.
Now, coming back to Pathos Ethos and Logos!
Pathos is purpose; the needs of the audience, their desires, their wishes; their dreams and their objectives. So the speaker must touch upon and impact the audience on what they want to hear. They will listen and assimilate only if the information is delivered and supported by real life experiences. Plain facts, statistics or spreadsheet details do not deserve a live audience; these do not deserve a live speaker. Such details can be shared by email, or any other channel of communication. In fact, your presence is what has pulled the people to the place of presentation. Therefore, you have to fulfill or least show that your speech is filled with your personal experiences which are closely related to your subject. Further that these real stories will inspire them to follow their stories, their dreams. They should be made to feel that they have come to the right place to know the right path.
Next we come to Ethos. Ethos means your credibility, your competence to address your audience on the subject. This will require you to talk about your knowledge and expertise about the subject. But you will be able to impress them only with your personal experiences or experiences of those who are connected with you. Only facts and figures will not create an impact. These are important to support your stories.
Reliving your experiences and relating your experiences is nothing but storytelling. Storytelling will create a lasting impression when these are told effectively. Its important what you say but it is equally important how you say it, if not more.
Finally Logos: Logos details the evidence which you have collected about your proposition. You may collect facts, statistics or testimonials provided these address different categories of your audience, their aspirations, their needs and their desires. One part of your audience is interested in the subject and will subscribe to your views. But there will be another part of the audience which has to be convinced. They are just neutral. They have not formed any opinion about the subject. You have to persuade them. And you can do so only with your personal stories or any other story which is relevant to what you are going to tell. Just plain facts or statistics will not do the trick. There has to be something extra, something more which you will provide by the way in which you deliver your stories. How you relate the story is extremely important. Good stories are told but great stories are performed. You need to become an excellent story performer. Your storytelling should always create impact. It should always impress your audience. While you have to always remember the three magical words of Aristotle: Pathos, Ethos and Logos, you must also pull out and relate interesting stories to deliver for a highly impactful speech. That will also encourage you to collect more experiences which will fortify your position on the subject when you come for your next presentations.
Remember speech is nothing if it is not storytelling & Storytelling is nothing if it is not performed to support your proposition.
Thanks for reading.

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