Story overload: Too much of a good thing

If you’re giving a presentation, storytelling can help you break down walls with your audience, earn their trust and, ultimately, influence them to do the thing you want them to do—accept your idea, approve your budget, invite you back, or hire you on the spot.

But storytelling is a tool that should be used sparingly. There is definitely such a thing as too much story.
A case of story overload

When I work with clients on their speeches, I consider myself lucky when I’m able to draw one or two good stories out of them. But I recently worked with an executive who had no shortage of great stories: brand stories, industry stories, personal stories.

What’s more, he was a great storyteller. Animated, energetic—a natural performer.

The problem was, he had too many stories—or, at least, too many to fit into a standard speech. In the first 20 minutes, he probably told more than a dozen stories.Which is about eight or 10 stories too many.
Stories need room to breathe

If you want to have an impact, you need to space your stories out. When you jam them all together, the power of each one is diminished.

Audiences need time to absorb and reflect on your stories, but that’s impossible to do when they fly by in one big blur.

And worse, when your material is almost nothing but stories, people start to suspect that you have no substance. There’s no “there” there.

Stories need to be interspersed with data, evidence and other “hard” content. Your stories should serve as a break for the audience, a palate cleanser, a way to bring your points to life and transition from one subject to another.

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