Last week, we had the great honor to host Kirubakaran Periyannan (PK), who is a professional speaker at NSA, an executive presentation coach at Western Digital, and a semi-finalist of the 2015 World Championship in Public Speaking. He gave a workshop on “How to Craft Advance Level Speeches Using Simple Techniques”
PK opened the workshop with the importance of storytelling to preserve life back in the stone age to share with us that we are all wired to storytelling. Then he introduced us to the various elements in a story – underdog, struggle, villain, and hero.
- An underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sports and creative works, who is largely expected to lose. PK shared that this character is often more relatable to the audience.
- Struggle: Conflict in a story is a struggle between opposing forces. Having conflicts creates drama and excitement in a story.
- Villain is the antagonist of your story whose motivations and actions oppose the protagonist and drive the plot of your story. Villains often spice up your story.
- Hero is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed.
A story flow that involves an underdog that faces a villain, goes through a struggle, and eventually becomes a hero usually is an enticing one.
Then PK explained the six universal emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. Our goal as a storyteller is to get our audience to feel one or more of these emotions. If our story doesn’t trigger any of them then it’s not really a story. It’s just a list of factual information.
Everyone likes humor, so happiness is definitely top of mind; though it’s often hard to master. Following that: sadness, fear, and surprise (in that priority order). Apparently, most people don’t like disgust and anger as emotions in storytelling.
Logic tells, emotions sell. Stories have the power to transform the way audiences think and to give them insights into human nature that is impossible with any other form of art. Our role is to connect with the audience by providing truthful experiences that stimulate emotions within them. Create emotional characters. Create emotional stories.
I also liked PK’s explanation on the Story Dramatic Arc to share with us the importance of the path a story follows. It usually includes five things: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and catastrophe. The exciting force leads to the rising action, the tragic force leads to the falling action, and the force of the final suspense leads to the catastrophe.
Six Principles of Story Stickiness:
- To keep an idea simple, it’s important to focus on the key message. This is the most important truth that you wish to convey. It’s easier to remember one important element than five different ones.
- Adopt an unexpected angle, attract attention and – most importantly – hold people’s attention. Communicate your idea as a mystery. Good titles or openers play a crucial role. People are fascinated by the knowledge gap.
- Clients are not always on the same wavelength. Clearly convey exactly what you want to say, so that the client understands and remembers it.
- You can use authority to convey the message, but details, statistics or evidence work too. In B2B, it can be useful to share figures and statistics with interested companies. We are naturally inclined to trust figures and statistics.
- The use of emotions will make people care about your idea. When people care about an idea, they will take action more quickly.
- Stories create a high level of added value, as people find it easy to remember a story and act accordingly. This makes it easier to actually convert your Calls to Action.
Six Persuasive Techniques By Robert Cialdini:
- Reciprocity: Give a little something to get a little something in return.
- We are wired to return favors and pay back debts—to treat others as they’ve treated us.The idea of reciprocity says that people, by nature, feel obliged to provide discounts or concessions to others if they’ve received favors from those same people. Psychology explains this by stressing that humans simply hate to feel indebted to others!
- Scarcity: When you believe something is in short supply…You want it more!
- The less of something there is, the more people tend to want it. This holds true for experiences as well as for material products. There’s not really much more to say about this one.
- Authority: You will obey me!
- Ever wonder why we have a tendency to obey authority figures, even if they’re objectionable and ask others to commit objectionable acts? It’s human nature!
- Consistency: People want their beliefs to be consistent with their values.
- Once we’ve publicly committed to something or someone, we’re much more likely to go through and deliver on that commitment (hence, consistency).
- Liking: The more you like someone, the more you’ll be persuaded by them.
- Liking is based on sharing something similar or a more superficial interest, like physical attractiveness.
- Consensus: There’s nothing like feeling validated based on what others are doing.
- We often do what we observe other people doing.
I really liked how PK put the six persuasive techniques into a specific example. Below is an email that Elizabeth wrote to invite Monica out for an event.
Then we see in the blue text below various techniques being used:
To further illustrate the importance of language usage, PK describes the difference among alliteration, similes, and metaphors.
- An alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables.
- A simile is a figure of speech and type of metaphor that compares two different things using the words “like” or “as.” The purpose of a simile is to help describe one thing by comparing it to another thing that is perhaps seemingly unrelated.
- A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another for rhetorical effect.
In summary, we learned about:
- Importance of storytelling: influence, teach, and inspire
- 4 elements of storytelling: underdog, struggle, villain, and hero
- 6 universal emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust
- Story dramatic arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and catastrophe.
- 6 principles of story stickiness: simplicity, unexpectedness, credibility, emotions, and stories.
- 6 persuasive techniques: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity.
- 3 figurative languages: alliteration, similes, and metaphors.
The full workshop video recording can be found here:
If you like what you saw, come to our next featured workshop with Raymond Engon, who is a Humorous Speech District winner. He will share his learnings, wisdom, and insights on how to add humor in your speeches. See you there on Wednesday, August 14th 7-8pm PT
Byline: Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters
Photo credit – Pexels Free Images