On September 29th 2021 we had Professional Keynote Speaker Paul Hughes as our guest in our webinar to give insights about storytelling. Coming from a long tradition of Irish storytellers himself, Hughes explains that the power of storytelling is to move people. Hughes started as a teacher and while working with different kinds of groups he realized that there is unity in the ways on how to engage people, how to create emotion and how to connect people in a way that is relevant when reaching different audiences whether in real life or virtually.
He emphasizes that an event reminds us of our aspirations and connects us to them and finds the sweet spots between operations and aspirations. This is needed in everything we do, to have some sort of a meaning. Hughes believes that events help us to do our work better and to elevate our work towards something meaningful.
It should be remembered that online events have existed before the current world situation and online events have their value and place in the events industry. When planning and executing an online event, Hughes states that the online event itself is not the challenge, but that nowadays we are online too much. To fight the online fatigue, he proposes that online events should be planned in a way that the audience is offline before the online event. In the beginning of the event, special attention should be paid into the language and nuances to set the tone and frame to the whole event.
Another tip he gives is to control the eye of the viewer: where is the attendee looking at? You should try to curate the visual experience and design the background in a way that the attention is where you want it to be.
Hughes emphasizes that the most important thing in speaking is not what is said but rather what people feel. The first goal is to create the right emotion, followed by building the logic. Instead of trying to stay in superficially positive emotion, he suggests setting the mood to be grounded in hope and aspirations. The ideal situation would be to find the balance between the current situation with possible challenges faced while being positive about where we are going.
Event as an ongoing cycle
Corporate events were also discussed. Corporate events have their own dynamics. They are about how to collaborate towards a common goal. Those should be approached as an ongoing cycle, an ongoing learning process instead of isolated events. The ideal pattern for this cycle of events would be:
Deciding on the actions
Doing the actions
Coming back and reflecting
Community can be created around events when we get people to learn together towards a common goal. Storytelling is also a great way to create community. Hughes explains that every story has three parts: a beginning, a middle and an end. The first part of a story is an invitation. The second part is an offer, while the third part is a promise. If communication is structured in that process, you can create emotion.
Stories help to create a sense of belief and bind the community together when people are moved to action. While creating emotion, storytelling enables unity and individual interpretations simultaneously. By emotions created by storytelling, the best outcome is that people are aligned towards something they believe in and they create a momentum to act.