How to Captivate Your Audience

Captivating is a pretty strong word, and as such, it’s probably something that we want to strive for in our interactions.

Hear it Here –

How to be Captivating

When we think of a captivating person, what kind of mental image comes to mind? If you were to choose a picture for a “captivating person” in a dictionary, what would the person be? What is this person expressing, how are they acting, and what are you watching them do?

More often than not, this person is going to look like they are on a stage or pulpit gesticulating grandly and expressively, with an emotion-filled face. And I would also bet that this person is in the middle of weaving an engrossing tale that captivates his or her audience. Indeed, if you think about it, it seems that only with storytelling can we mesmerize and charm others into hanging on to our every word.

02:05 A Life of Stories

To get better at stories, we have to begin to recognize them in our daily lives. No, seriously. We don’t think of our lives as being very interesting on a day-to-day basis, but we do quite a bit more than we realize. It’s not that every day you are engaging in a massive protest that you can tell your kids about, or you were chased by a wiener dog down a dark alley whereupon a man dressed as a parrot saved you by tackling the dog. These stories are self-evident and don’t need any organization or special way of telling them to make an impact.

What’s great about mini-stories is you can also create these before a conversation, so you can have compelling anecdotes at hand in response to very common and widespread questions. The main benefit to creating mini-stories ahead of time is to be able to avoid one-word answers that you may be accustomed to using. This can give a sense of confidence going in, because you’ve prepared for what will come.

When you break down the context surrounding a mini-story, they become much simpler. Shoot for three sentences that can answer some of the most common conversation topics that will arise.

Detail and specificity put people into a particular place and time. This allows them to imagine exactly what’s happening and start caring about it. Think about why it’s so easy to get sucked into a movie. We experience enormous sensory stimulation and almost can’t escape all of the visual and auditory detail, which is designed to make us invested. Detailed stories and conversations are inviting others to share a mental movie with you.

09:24 The 1:1:1 Method

My method of storytelling in conversation is to prioritize the discussion afterward. This means that the story itself doesn’t need to be that in-depth or long. It can and should contain specific details that people can relate to and latch on to, but it doesn’t need to have parts or stages. A full story can be mini by nature. That’s why it’s called the 1:1:1 method.

A story should be able to be summed up in one sentence because, otherwise, you are trying to convey too much. It keeps you focused and straight to the point. This step actually takes practice, because you are forced to think about which aspects of the story matter and which don’t add anything to your action. It’s a skill to be able to distill your thoughts into one sentence and still be thorough—often, you won’t realize what you want to say unless you can do this.

The 1:1:1 method can be summed up as starting a story as close to the end as possible. Most stories end before they get to the end, in terms of impact on the listener, their attention span, and the energy that you have to tell it. In other words, many stories tend to drone on because people try to adhere to complex rules or because they simply lose the plot and are trying to find it again through talking. Above all else, a long preamble is not necessary. What’s important is that people pay attention, care, and will react in some (preferably) emotional manner.

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Keep the words flowing by buying me a coffee.

Categories: Voice over Work