Connecting with the audience

Telling tales, particularly about yourself

Steve was a guy I worked with many years ago and he was a great role-model as a presenter.  He showed me that it’s OK to look to amuse your audience as long as there’s a serious point lurking in the background and he taught me the value of a story to make a powerful point in a subtle way.  He also showed me how not to tell the personal anecdote.  He told loads of them and they were interesting and funny and always had a point.  The problem was that he was always the hero.

How Steve stood up to bullies at school, how Steve was the the most honest and decent man in the world, how Steve was unfailingly attractive to women, how Steve was faithful, successful, open, honest and modest.  It would have been OK, if there had been even the smallest similarity between the Steve in the story to the selfish little sod speaking, but there wasn’t, and for me that made Steve less than convincing over the long-term.

Then there was Harvey P.  Harvey is exactly the oppsite kind of story teller.  He tells great anecdotes with deep meaning and, yes, sometimes they’re about himself.  But when they are, he’s more often than not the patsy.  Harvey gets ahead of himself, Harvey thinks he knows what will work in his wife’s country, Harvey starts to believe in his own publicity.  We still laugh and learn from the tale but guess who we’re really moved by?  My mate Harvey, that’s who.

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