Capturing Their Attention

The fundamental purpose of good storytelling is capturing the attention of your audience.

It is crucial to get them engaged in the message you are trying to make by tactfully presenting the information – or your pitch – without losing their interest or attention.

In business, to be successful at this, you need to make sure you have the best speakers making your presentations. Align your speakers with your cause (or product) and make sure they are a good fit to your audience.

If your speakers are not people who your audience can connect with, chances are your audience isn’t going to engage or pay attention for very long.

There’s also a good chance your audience won’t buy into your cause (products/business) if they don’t feel a connection with your speakers.

Storytelling and grasping attention is an extremely powerful tool to utilize, and when done correctly, you have the power to synchronize with your audience. Uri Hasson, a Princeton neuroscientist, has exhibited, how the brains of storytellers and story listeners can synchronize. This happens as your audience pays attention to the story and becomes so engaged with the characters, they start to feel as if they are transported into the story.

Getting your audience to this point is crucial for business and fundraising. Effective storytelling activates oxytocin in the brain, making people want to help others. So in regards to charity work and fundraising, activating oxytocin levels during a story, can produce lucrative results.

However, if your storytellers aren’t eliciting an emotional or physical reaction from their audience, then something is not right. Either the storyteller is not the appropriate person for the audience, or they just haven’t developed the skills needed to tell powerful stories.

Like I mentioned in my blog post ‘How to Become a More Influential Speaker,’ “Being influential is not an exact science, it’s an art. You either possess these traits naturally, or you can learn how to develop them.”

There are certain traits to become more influential and once you master those traits, you have the ability to capture your audience’s attention and grow your business.

How to Become a More Influential Speaker

To become more influential, there are certain traits you must possess and those traits can be learned and developed.

Being influential is not an exact science, it’s an art. It’s been studied in the field of personal development and they believe influential people share common traits. You either possess these traits naturally, or you can learn how to develop them.

The Traits

Credibility: How believable are you to other people? Does your reputation back you up, and how they perceive you.

Trustworthy: People are more inclined to listen, if they trust you. Authenticity is a huge factor in developing your influence skills. The most influential speakers are those who have trust, truth, and integrity.

Strong Communication Capability: The ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and articulate the message in a enthusiastic, passionate way. To be emotionally invested and aware of impact you have on your audience.

Empathy: Strong influencers have the ability to step away from their personal view and see how it affects their audience. To be able to gage your message through someone else’s perception is vital.

Inspiration: Inspiring others is an essential trait when trying to be influential. You have to be creative and enthusiastic to captivate interest. Invoking your audience’s emotion is a way to capture their attention.

Open-Mind: Accepting change and being able to adapt are key traits of influential people. Things aren’t always going to go your way. Having the ability to see other perspectives and be open to other points of view will earn you respect.

Learn and practice these traits as you begin speaking, and you will start to see your audience more engaged.

Finding the Common Thread

To influence or captive your audience, you must find that common thread. What are they passionate about, or why are they there? What do they need? How can you connect with them?

A few years back, I was working in Development at a private school for high school students who were smart, but just weren’t thriving in mainstream schools. Often their parents were discouraged and had given up on any hope that their children were able to succeed in school or even graduate for that matter.

I would speak to parents about the many students who had transferred to our school and were thriving. I would tell them stories about the alumni I interacted with who were very successful (and grateful) for everything the school and teachers provided them.

I explained it’s not often in life that you are handed a second chance to succeed. This school was like a second family for many. It gave students a new lease on life. Improved grades, lifelong friendships, college acceptances, and ultimately, to become successful adults.

I eased their concerns, answered questions and let them know that they were not alone in their journey. I found the common thread.

Mastering Connection

Connecting to your audience and finding that common thread is essential when speaking or storytelling. It allows you to show empathy and understanding for what they are facing, while providing solutions to improve their situation.

That common thread allows us to create bonds, trust, and connections, which can eventually lead to business opportunities.

Once that common thread is established, you‘re able to start truly connecting and driving that commitment – uniting the storyteller and the audience through shared interests.

Storytelling and finding the common thread allows us to weave emotion and valuable information into our marketing skills and transform anything into something significant.

Conversational Narcissists

The term “Conversational Narcissist” was coined by Sociologist, Charles Derber, who describes this as a trait of consistently turning a conversation back to yourself.

I’m sure we all have had experiences with people who don’t really listen to what we are saying and are just waiting to turn the conversation back to themselves (love those people!).

For people who like to engage in a healthy conversation and connect when they are speaking, this can be excruciatingly daunting.

How it looks:

Normal conversations have a flow to them. An equal amount of exchanging information back and forth. When you’re speaking with a conversational narcissist, that’s not the case. During a conversation, each person takes actions. These actions can either be attention-giving or attention-getting. Conversational narcissists concentrate more on the latter because they are more focused on gratifying their own needs.


During this interaction, you can respond in two ways. The shift-response or the support-response. The support-response is the healthy response. It keeps the attention on the speaker and the topic of conversation. The shift-response, (as you might have guessed by now) is the narcissistic response. Shifting the conversation back to themselves.



Ann: I had a really rough day today.

Barbara: Oh really? What happened? Are you feeling better now?


Ann: I had a really bad day today.

Barbara: Oh yeah? I had a bad day too.

Ann: Really?

Barbara: Yeah, work was crazy, everyone was demanding, I barely had time to come up for air.

In a shift-response the intent is clearly to get the conversation shifted back to oneself. But intent plays an important role and can change the shift, back to a support-response. Below illustrates Barbara interjecting herself, but then turns the conversation back to Ann. A conversational narcissist will keep interjecting until the focus is completely shifted back to them.

Ann: I had a really bad day today.

Barbara: Oh yeah? I had a bad day too.

Ann: Really? Maybe we need to go out and grab dinner, that will make us feel better.

Barbara: Absolutely! Where should we go?

Conversational narcissists can destroy someone’s story by not asking questions and withholding these support-responses.

To avoid this, when in a conversation with someone, or listening to a story – follow along, ask supportive questions, and once their topic is over, then introduce your topic.

Are You A Conversational Narcissist?

Click the link below to see if you are.

How to Start Storytelling

Storytelling is an art, and if you are good at it, you can engage your listeners and convey valuable information.

We can all remember from an early age listening to stories. Some people were really good at capturing our attention and getting us so engaged in the storyline. They had the ability to transport our senses to make us feel like we were actual characters in the story.

I loved hearing stories. I loved seeing how the storyteller had the ability to capture my attention and take me to another place.

Emotion and Storytelling

It wasn’t until I started working in the fundraising industry that I learned the art of storytelling and saw how powerful the use of emotion can be in business in regards to storytelling.

People are always told “Don’t bring emotion into the workplace” or “never share too much emotion.” So I was hesitant at first about whether I should go down this path. But when people listen to a story, there is heightened empathy, trust, and compassion. They immediately start to feel more connected to you and your organization. They look at you as a real person, not just an extension of the business.

How to Start Storytelling?

Storytelling allows you connect with your target audience. Rather than just stating what you are trying to sell or what you want, storytelling let’s you engage and give prominence to your audience.

On the larger scale, you can tell a story on your company website. In the “About Us” section, tell a story that describes the company history, the team, company ideals, and what the company stands for. Describing your company ‘story’ is essential for making you stand out.

You can also conduct client interviews/stories on video to discuss how your company helped them. Anything you can do to engage with the broader audience and set you apart from the competition increases your company’s favorability.

The Benefits of Storytelling

1. Bridging brand & people

2. Simplifying business jargon

3. Inspiring & motivating people

4. Authentic storytelling

5. Storytelling outcome

Every business today is looking for ways to stand out from their competitors. By telling your unique stories and connecting with your audience, you can be authentic, inspiring and motivate people to want to do business with you.