In leadership, one-on-one, coaching conversations and even around the water cooler, we are constantly telling stories. Some work better than others.

If you want to lead effectively, share ideas and motivate people to take action, knowing how to tell effective stories will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

In business, it's often the story that is what helps people understand your idea and take part in a sense of discovery. In essence, this kind of meaningful conversation connects the dots. It's not just a bunch of random data. And it's not just a lot of sentiments and feelings.

A well-planned story appeals to every listener. It is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. It seamlessly blends emotional and logical insights. In short, it connects.

Imagine for a moment that telling a visual story consists of 4 phases. Let's examine each phase, one at a time.

Step 1. Show What Matters Most
Show and tell your audience with pictures, visual metaphors and visual examples. Pain a picture in the minds of your listeners. By tapping into visual understanding, participants enjoy a sense of discovery. This helps them relate your pictures to their personal set of values.

Step 2. Speak In Your Authentic Voice
Every presenter brings his or her uniqueness to storytelling. Perhaps you are a natural at telling jokes. Or maybe you prefer to have a serious tone and emphasize examples with hard data.

Finding your personal expression is the fastest way to become an exceptional storyteller. You won't have to worry about trying to be like your boss or a competitor. Just focus on being yourself.

Step 3. Use Your Emotional Intelligence
Sense what your participants are feeling and concerned about. Are they focusing on negative stories of recession? Are they worried about downsizing? Are they in need of an uplifting story or example of someone who overcame tremendous odds? Or are they fed up with motivation and looking for realistic understanding?

If you and I were sitting shoulder to shoulder, we'd figure this one out. It's not the easiest thing in the world -- especially virtually. But working with a presentation coach, it's easier to develop a sense of what is truly going on for you clients and prospects.

Take the time to develop a keen intuition. Focus on listening for what is said--and what is unsaid.

And yes, this will help you at home when relating with your partner or spouse.

Step 4. Connect with Personal Stories
Learn to connect by sharing relevant personal examples. It's often said that the more you share about your own experience, the more believable you are.

For instance, just this morning I met up with a prospective client. She told me about the current struggles in her business, and all the challenges of staying creative in the face of economic pressures. We swamped tales of obstacles and celebrated even the smallest triumphs.

In the process, we connected at a deeper level.

After a short time, we found a deep sense of similarity in our situations. We bonded. From this connection, it was much easier to brainstorm and think creatively. Working together, we developed a new way to solve her current presentation training issues.

Without openness of real-world examples, this might have just been a chance meeting and a perfunctory exchange. By opening up the zone of conversation, we told stories and used metaphors. Ideas flew. Rapport was immediate.

Are you ready to start using visual storytelling? If you want to get quick results, use this 4-step model. To learn all the ins and outs, and how to do it right, join our fast-paced 1-hour webinar on Visual Storytelling. You'll leave armed with new insights, blueprints and tools to use visual storytelling to connect with your clients.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: