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Speak More Effectively

July 7, 2014

©GettyImages/DavidHerrmann

BillMcGowanStorytelling is a very useful skill when it comes to communicating ideas.

Here at Mind Tools, we’ve talked to a lot of storytelling experts, including Ty Montague, Paul Smith and Annette Simmons.

It was great to hear Bill McGowan’s contribution to this rich vein of advice. For him, every story should have three components: the setup, the build, and the reveal. He explained to me that this structure needs to be flexible, so that you can respond to your audience’s reaction as your story unfolds.

In this audio clip, from our Expert Interview with McGowan, he offers some tips on holding the attention of your audience. These are outlined in detail in his new book, “Pitch Perfect.”


Listen to the full interview
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Question: Do you use stories to get your meaning across? Do you like it when other people do?


4 thoughts on “Speak More Effectively

  1. Bree wrote:

    I sometimes use stories and then feel the need to explain them and draw out the parallels of what I want them to see. I wonder if that is a good thing to do or not? Any thoughts?

    1. Mika wrote:

      I think it’s good that you do that. A story can seem pointless without the parallels. With stories where the parallels are less obvious I would definitely clarify as well. It’s like switching on a light: suddenly the contents of a room are easy to see. Same when clarifying in communication.

  2. Midgie wrote:

    Thanks Bree and Mika for sharing. I agree that sometimes it is good to draw out the parallels between the story you are telling and what you want to audience to understand. It just cements, reinforces and crystalises the message and point you are trying to make.

  3. Amalgreta wrote:

    You got really good tips here. It was quite difficult for me to tell stories in front of an audience. A lot of questions roll inside my mind such as “Am I communicating effectively?” or “Are they even listening to my story?” Good thing I saw this article with the audio clip of your Expert Interview with McGowan. Thank you very much for sharing this. These are some amazing tips and they truly lent me a hand in making myself an effective public speaker. I really needed to improve my speaking skills for my career so these tips were a really useful.

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