The Power of Story Telling: Epiphanies

by Derek Featherstone

The art of story-telling is a critical skill for delivering great presentations. But you also must choose the correct stories. Eureka moments--where you literally have an epiphany--are some of the best stories to tell.

Story-telling is a critical piece of successful speaking. But the act of story-telling is really only one piece of the puzzle.

You have to tell the right stories.

Use all of your best techniques to tell the wrong story, and your audience will leave asking "Great story, but how does it relate to me?" They'll question whether it was worth being there at all, and that's absolutely not what you want.

How do you choose the right stories?

So, how do you pick the right stories to tell in the first place?

Like everything else, there isn't just one single answer. But there is one common thread that I use in as many of my presentations as possible: epiphanies.

People say "for every one complaint that you have out there, there are probably ten more just like it." Likewise for every person that sends you a compliment, there are probably ten more like it even though they didn’t actually send it to you. The same applies to your learning experiences--to the epiphanies that you have as you're trying to understand a topic. Think of it like this:

"If I felt this way when I was trying to learn how to do this particular thing, then odds are that other people are going to be feeling the same way as well at some point."

When you have those epiphanies—those are the ones you must write down. Keep them and hold on tight because those are the teachable moments that you can keep in your bank so that when you are teaching people about that very same topic, you can relive that moment. Share how you came to your conclusions: your reasoning, your thought process, the revelation that led to clarity.

Epiphanies make for some of the most powerful stories.

Now, Go Track It

There's one simple step I'd like you to take next. When you're struggling to understand something—to make sense of a complex topic—write it down. Write down what puzzles you. What doesn't make sense. And then, when you solve it (and you will. You're persistent, right?) write that down too. What was it that helped you understand? How did it all come together? What were you experiencing at the time? Did you read some other article that explained things in a different way? Did you connect one part of your life to another? Did you look at a problem in a new way that suddenly led to your path being clear?

Write that down. All of it. Save it for later.

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