She spoke with clarity, she smiled, she had great charisma. With sparkling eyes she presented one of her company’s major recruiting events. As a global automotive supplier they chose to sponsor a job fair, which was held at Hockenheim Ring, the German Formula One racetrack.
With her smile and sparkling eyes she explained the event to us: Our 25 square meter booth was rather small compared to the big car brands. We had a human crash test dummy there and people could apply for a job. Next year we want to do it again.
When she was done with her speech, she sat down on her chair and expected her speech evaluation. We marched through all the positive aspects, then we moved on to the constructive comments.
I looked at her and said, Before we start, could you please come back here. With a puzzled look of surprise, she stood up and returned to our “stage”. Don’t worry, I told her, it won’t hurt. The other five participants, among them two serious guys from Slovakia, giggled.
Then, I addressed her. Can you go back in your ‘re-living room‘ and relive for us that situation at the job fair? What did you hear? What did you see? What did you smell? Describe that situation. Don’t tell us the situation; relive it for us, relive it with us!
She hesitated and thought for a while. The smile was slowly running away from her face. Then, she began to speak.
It’s a sunny day, not too hot, in the lower twenties. I see young men, 18 to 19 year-old men. Many of them wear racing suits. There’s this noise of car engines. Our booth is the smallest one. Next to the giant booths of Mercedes-Benz and BMW ours feels like a tent in the center of Manhattan. I remember this smell. It’s a different smell – a scent of gasoline mixing with the smell of popcorn.
Wow, what a difference! Now, we are part of the story. We hear the situation; we smell the situation, we feel the situation.
When you tell a story, your audience needs this initial description of a situation. They don’t know it. It’s your job as a speaker to drag them into your world. Next time you tell a story, enter your re-living room and let the scent of gasoline mingle with the smell of popcorn.