Every story needs an audience. More often than not, though, we leave the people in our audience out of our stories completely; they just passively sit and listen.
No wonder that people’s minds often drift off, even with the best of stories.
You can turn this upside down and win undying attention from your audience with this simple storytelling tip.
Ask your listeners this magic question:
What would you do?
This question is a powerful trigger – it appeals to people’s curiosity, empathy, and problem-solving thinking.
Using live polls, you can ask this question to everyone in the audience and hear their thoughts.
You will bring everybody right to the center of your story and turn them from passive listeners into active participants.
Let me show you how. Here are two examples from our Slido kitchen.
Telling an inspiring customer story at all-hands meeting
At one of our latest all-hands meetings, our Head of Customer Success, Jo Massie, was telling us about our customer’s story. The main character in that story was Emily (name changed), the company’s HR manager.
First, Jo presented us with a hurdle that Emily was dealing with. During their company town halls, they received a number of negative questions, and Emily was struggling to handle the situation.
Since Jo wanted to put everyone in our customer’s shoes, she kicked off her narrative by telling us: “Today, all of you are Emily. I want you to think about what you would do if you were her.”
Then, she introduced her first poll with the question, “As Emily, how would you deal with this situation?” She then gave five options and asked our Slido team to vote.
After people had voted, Jo told us how Emily had actually dealt with the situation and commented on the voting results.
It was interesting to see that the real turn of events was in sharp contrast to our team’s guesses. The whole room went, “Oh, wow!” – a complete surprise.
As the story went on, Jo used a similar poll two more times to ask us how we thought the situation would develop.
This not only absorbed us in the scenario but also compelled us to think about it. While listening to the customer story, we were learning.
Scroll down for another great example of this storytelling technique.
Read also: Why and how to ask open-ended questions
Involving the audience in a story during a fireside chat
During one of the recent Couch Talks (informal fireside chats with our teammates), our Chief Meeting Designer, Juraj Holub, invited our Head of New Business, Pavol Dudrik, for a fireside chat tag-lined “Impossible is nothing”.
Pavol was telling us a story about how he managed to stop his plane from taking off, and was able to get his friend and himself safely home after the authorities had taken their passports.
Juraj, who was moderating the talk, introduced the first poll: “You have no passport, you have no money, you have 30 minutes until take-off. What do you do?”
After we had voted, Juraj reviewed the results and then encouraged Pavol to tell the audience what the real course of events was.
Juraj used two more polls during the talk.
By letting us guess how the story went on, Juraj managed to make the narrative all the more dramatic and keep people fully attentive throughout the whole talk.
How can you pull it off?
Here’s how you can replicate this technique with Slido live polls.
All it takes is for you to create a multiple-choice poll with a question such as, “What do you think happened next?” and provide a couple of options for your audience to choose from.
Then, when you get to that particular point in your story, tell your listeners to take out their phones and vote for one of the options.
Your audience will be on the edge of their seats to find out how your story continues. They will be absolutely absorbed in your narrative.
Now, I can almost hear you asking:
Where can you use this technique?
And that’s the magic of it – you can use this storytelling trick on practically any speaking occasion, with an audience from 10 to 10,000 people.
Whether you’re hosting a meeting, telling your team a customer’s success story, speaking at a conference in front of a large auditorium or talking to a guest speaker in a fireside chat, this tip is for you.
We hope you’ll try this technique during your next speaking gig. With live polls, you will be able to involve your audience in your story and make your storytelling more powerful.
Create your own live poll with Slido. It’s free, just like all good things in life.