Flubbing the Story

By Lain Ehmann

Everyone loves a good story, and the more effectively you communicate your tale the better your chances of engaging your audience in a meaningful dialogue. But storytelling isn’t all once upon a time and happily ever after. It’s hard to tell a good story, says Ron Stubbs, speaker and co-author of Can’t Get Through: 8 Barriers to Communication (Pelican Publishing, 2003). Here are some of the most common errors salespeople make.

1. Being boring. If you are centered on yourself, if you’re bogged down in minutiae and irrelevant detail, you’re going to lose your listener. If possible, run your spiel by some objective listeners and have them tell you where they start to fade out. Remember that a few well-chosen anecdotes and examples far outweigh a lot of fluff.

2. Talking too long. A sure way to alienate a prospect is to perform the equivalent of Hamlet’s monologue. Practice getting your key points across in 30 seconds or less, recommends Stubbs. “You need to tell your client what you’re selling and what you’re doing in the Reader’s Digest version,” he says. Your brevity gives clients an opportunity to ask questions, which pulls them into the conversation as active participants.

3. Speaking too slowly. “This is the fast food generation,” reminds Stubbs. “They don’t want a long, drawn-out commercial.” Get to the point quickly.

4. Speaking in a garbled manner. To be an effective storyteller you must speak clearly, with clean enunciation, easy-to-follow diction, and a minimum of fillers, such as uh and er.

5. Bragging needlessly. There’s a difference between sharing anecdotes that demonstrate your success and bragging needlessly about your personal accomplishments. Keep the focus on meeting your customer’s needs, not on your personal successes.

6. Telling stories without clear intentions. Each story you share should have a clear, understandable point. If you don’t know why you’re telling the tale, don’t tell it. Know what you want to accomplish before you start.

For more information, please click on www.ronstubbs.com