We can use the skill of storytelling in many settings — at a dinner party, presentation, job interview, and so forth. At the same time, this skill is not easy to develop. It’s not like a sport with a coach who will point out areas in which you excel or are deficient, and unlike in school, there is no teacher to tell you what you need to improve upon. The only feedback you get when it comes to storytelling is the response at the dinner party, presentation, or interview. If the person you’re speaking with becomes distracted and leaves you in mid-story, or someone decides to check his/her email during your presentation, or you’re not able to overcome an objection intelligently during an interview, you know you have work to do. Listening to podcasts can help.
I spend a good chunk of my time biking to places, driving to different appointments, or simply running household chores. Those are perfect moments for me to improve by listening to podcasts. I find the following podcasts perfect if you are working on becoming a better storyteller:
1.) Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates
This podcast features teams discussing intelligent and relevant topics such as “does technology makes you smarter” and “assisted suicide.” The goal for each team is to change the minds of the attendees, and a team wins by the percentage of the changed opinion. This podcast is incredible not only because of its educational value. You can also learn from how the host has absolute control over the debate, exercising active listening and reining in comments that could take the debate off on a tangent. You can learn storytelling skills from the debate teams too by hearing how they logically construct both prepared and impromptu arguments and authoritatively present the information.
2.) TED Radio Hour
If you are an avid TED Talk listener, you will enjoy the TED Radio Hour. By listening to the way that the program is pieced together from different TED talks punctuated by short interviews with the speakers and host, you can learn the storytelling skill of creating a cohesive whole out of different parts. What I learned from it is that life is not necessarily a sequential journey; it’s episodic. You can extract experiences and make them into different stories, punctuated with your personal commentary. This podcast shows me how I can take a step back and view my life from an outside perspective, weaving different scenarios into a beautiful, captivating story.
3.) Tara Brach
You may enjoy Tara Brach’s hour-long podcasts more if you are a practitioner of meditation. Even if you are not, you can listen to Tara Brach to learn how she skillfully incorporates subtle jokes throughout her podcast. The timing of her punch lines is immaculate. Not only that, she manages to pull the audience back to her point immediately without losing them a bit. Although it’s a meditation podcast, she invites her audience into her personal journey through sharing information from her personal reading and incorporating humor with absolute control. Listening to Tara Brach feels like we’re on a relaxing roller coaster. All we can do is sit down, buckle up, and enjoy.
Those of you who’ve spoken with me know that I’m not the most dynamic or eloquent speaker. But I make it a daily goal to improve my public speaking and storytelling skills. For those of you who are interested in becoming a better storyteller for job search purposes, I have several online workshops pertaining to job interview preparation, salary negotiation and 2017 career planning. You can find one that best fit your career needs here. If you have alternative workshop suggestions, please send them to me at Helen@interviewrightconsulting.com.