Brought to you by Vast Conference:
Online meetings can be one of two things: productive or boring. If you’ve ever attended a meeting where you felt like you were going to fall asleep, you know exactly what I mean.
Meetings are a necessary part of business and client communication, but they can also be the bane of productivity if you’re not careful. An especially long and boring meeting can leave you feeling drained for the rest of the workday and discourage the entire team.
Surprisingly, the key to web meeting success is actually a simple concept — storytelling. Storytelling has captured our imaginations for millennia. It’s why TV shows are so popular, why books are still selling like hot cakes, and why some of our greatest heroes live on in legends for thousands of years.
Okay, so maybe you won’t immortalize John from accounting with tales of how he slashed the budget with his mighty spreadsheets, but you can use storytelling to improve the quality and productivity of your meetings. Here’s how.
Keeping Everyone’s Attention
A web meeting can quickly grow tiring, especially because they often occur when everyone is at home. COVID-19 has forced many businesses to adopt work from home practices, and this isn’t always advantageous or easy for everyone. Home is full of distractions, and there’s really no one to hold people accountable in the comfort of their own home.
Keeping everyone’s attention means telling a story that makes sense, flows well, and speaks to them personally. You don’t have to dramatize things into an HBO-worthy mini-series, but you can add a little flair to your topics to make them more interesting.
Instead of telling things flat out, tell a story of how the concept relates to your life, the business, or everyone in attendance. People tend to listen with more intention when they feel a connection to a character or concept.
Stories Make Concepts Easier To Digest
Sometimes, simply saying how something is just isn’t enough to make everyone understand it. Putting difficult concepts into the context of a story that relates to everyday life can help even the most complex topics digest a little easier.
Have you ever heard something explained to you in a textbook format that didn’t make sense? Then, when the speaker instead put the concept into the context of a story, it made sense?
A good story also helps build familiarity and trust, which are crucial to good work relationships. Without trust, you won’t make it very far, and your communication efforts will be less effective.
Your Speaking Voice Matters
Of course, even if you’re telling an excellent story, if your voice is monotone and tired-sounding, you’re just going to put everyone to sleep (or bore them to death). How you tell a story matters just as much as the story itself.
Have you ever heard someone with a monotone voice try to read a story or explain a topic? It’s like listening to raindrops. At first, it’s pleasant; but then, you just grow tired and annoyed that it won’t stop raining.
Make sure you sit up straight and use your best speaking voice when you’re telling a story in a meeting. Speak clearly and firmly, but don’t shout. Like any tool, a voice can be used effectively or ineffectively, depending on the competence of the user. Luckily, a voice is also something that can be improved with time and effort.
If you’re in a face-to-face meeting, be sure to look people in the eye when you’re talking to them. This is important to building trust and understanding, and it’s also a sign of respect. In web meetings, sit up straight and address everyone. Your body language still matters even when there’s no one physically present.
A Good Narrative Goes A Long Way
Stories have moved us to great achievements, captured our imaginations, and caused societal upheaval throughout history. A good narrative is surprisingly powerful at influencing the way people think, act, and talk.
It’s important to understand that the way you present things can change how other people view them. Telling a narrative is a powerful way to improve your meetings, but recognize that it carries a certain responsibility as well.
Present facts as they are. They don’t have to be embellished in order to sound interesting. Be sure that information is easy to digest, and if it isn’t, put it into a context that everyone can understand and relate to. The more you relate to your listeners, the more they’re going to listen. It’s that simple.
Make your meetings the envy of the office, not the bane of your productivity. Telling a good story helps things digest easier, captures your listeners’ attention, and helps meetings flow smoothly. Remember to sit up straight, speak confidently, and don’t embellish the facts to make the story sound better.