For the last seven days, I’ve been engulfed in my annual Brand Your Brilliance Leadership Challenge. It’s a 10-day personal power and leadership development program that has managed to transform the lives of hundreds of people in the three years that I’ve been doing it.

“I just want to say Day 4 got really real for me. The exercise influenced how I showed up for a meeting with senior leaders yesterday. I left the office thinking, “What is Felicia trying to do to me? Make me great or something?” -Female Leader, Charles Schwab

The challenge is part heart work and part strategy because you need both in order to be an influential leader. Day 6 is all about storytelling and the power of your brand story and I always get really excited about this day because it’s the day that we shift from all of the heart-based excavation work into using our strategic minds for the remainder of the challenge.

When you really think about it, what is the most memorable kind of communication? A good old-fashioned story, of course! Whether it’s through hieroglyphics, parables, fairy tales, or fables, a good story is the deepest way to connect the mind to the soul.

Storytelling is a cherished tradition and an entertaining and effective way to convey information about almost any subject.

Walk into any classroom and you’ll find teachers educating their students with stories. Walk into a major corporation and you’ll find high profile CEOs expressing thoughts, opinions, and facts to their employees with stories. Wherever you go, storytelling is a powerful means of communication.

Why Should We Tell Stories?

It’s been discovered that each of us has a desire, and perhaps even a need, to tell and hear stories.

By sharing stories with others, and indulging in their stories, we learn to understand one another at a much deeper level. By creating a common level of understanding, we come together as a community of individuals – appreciating both the differences and similarities we share.

You can convey your thoughts, feelings, and experiences through stories. By doing so, you’re verbally expressing the things you value, the customs you take part in, and the wisdom you’ve acquired in life.

Have you ever felt that you didn’t have anything interesting to share? Have you ever wished that you could grip audiences with the power of a good story?

If so, you’ll be happy to know that there are many stories within you, just waiting to be told! And by becoming a better storyteller, you can overcome feelings of isolation and develop a stronger connection with others.

Even if you’ve never told a story in your life, you can become a great storyteller! With a little effort and practice, your storytelling skills will improve and people will be drawn to what you have to say.

Here are 4 important techniques you can use to tell great stories:

1. Ensure that your presence is prominent. In fact, I like to say presence before presentation, because you must capture the attention of your audience, whether it’s a small group of friends or a large crowd. If you can captivate your audience, you’re halfway there! In order to do so, you’ll want speak clearly and deliberately with an upright posture and confident demeanor.

• Self-confidence plays a large role in making your presence prominent in a room. If you lack the confidence to step outside of your comfort zone and be confident, you’ll have a hard time gaining your audience’s attention.

2. Connect with and engage your audience. Connecting with your audience on an emotional level is important. If you’re able to do this, you’ll draw in the interest of the crowd and your story won’t fall on deaf ears. This means understanding who they are, what they desire, why they’re there, and how to speak to them.

• Talk and relate to your audience on an equal level. You shouldn’t let your ego lead to a condescending tone of voice, nor should you let your wavering self-confidence make you timid. We’re all human and we’re all equal, so eliminate any negative perceptions or mental barriers from your mind.

• Match how you speak with whom you’re speaking to. Your tone, language, and attire should be different when you’re talking to high school students versus a group of women over 40. Try to precisely understand what the audience goes through day-in and day-out and tell that story.

3. Interact with your audience. Audience involvement is a simple technique that famous speakers use when sharing stories. You can ask questions, set up activities, or have someone share their experiences. This keeps your audience tuned in because they become part of the story.

• Humor can help you engage and interact with an audience but don’t force it. Forcing humor into a story where it doesn’t belong is awkward for both the storyteller and the audience.

4. Teach something. Your audience wants to learn something. They don’t want to simply learn about you; they want to learn something they can apply in their own lives. Structure your story so there’s both a situation and a solution or moral, that way there’s a deeper meaning associated with the story that the audience can identify with.

When you gain the full attention of your audience, you can connect with them on an emotional level and interact with them, that way you can more closely identify with their personal situations and leave them on the edge of their seats. All it takes is practice!

I recently hosted a storytelling workshop, and was delighted to see one of the attendees finalizing the storyboarding process that she learned in the workshop.

First Draft of "My Story", has been Created!! Grateful for our Connection Felicia!!

“First Draft of ‘My Story’, has been Created!! Grateful for our Connection Felicia!!”

I’m hosting a free webinar next week on August 18th entitled: 6 Proven Steps to Brand Your Brilliance, Monetize Your Expertise & Finally Get Paid What You’re Worth! If you’re interested in powering up your leadership brand, please join me be registering here.

Oh and btw…the password to access Day 6 of the challenge is BYBC2016.