How to Connect with Anyone: Lessons from a Tornado

Pop quiz—would you rather listen to a sermon or a story? I vote for story. I’m not the only one, as evidenced by the reaction I observed during a church service recently.

As the speaker (a young man who is working on becoming an ordained minister) shared the message, he spoke about the importance of faith for 10 minutes when he said, “Let me tell you a story.” It was magic.

The congregation immediately perked up, lifting their heads and focusing their attention on the young man.

The energy in the room changed, supercharged by a sense of anticipation.

Behold the power of a story.

The story of a storm
The speaker recalled a time when he and his sisters were old enough to stay home alone on the farm when their parents went to town. It was one of those sultry Iowa days when unsettled conditions could spawn storms. When the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning, a shrill alert on the television urged people in the area to take cover.

“We panicked,” the speaker exclaimed. Instead of seeking shelter at home, the siblings headed to the neighbor’s farm, pedaling their bicycles furiously as the storm gathered strength.

They made it, but there was just one problem. The neighbors weren’t home.

While the speaker didn’t elaborate about how he and his sisters survived the severe weather, his story drove home his key point. It’s vital to know where to seek shelter in the midst of life’s storms.

3 Reasons why this story worked
Now that’s a message I won’t forget. Why?

  • The story of the tornado was unexpected and caught my attention.
  • The speaker knew his audience, because storms resonate with any Iowan. I could relate to the fear and uncertainty he experienced.
  • The story engaged my senses and painted a picture in my mind. I could hear the eerie sound of the weather warning on TV. I could see the dark clouds roiling in the sky. I could hear the crunch of the gravel as the bicycle tires raced down the road.

Combine all this through a simple, well-told story, and a potentially forgettable sermon took on a dynamic, new power. It’s a simple—yet effective–message that will stick with me for years to come.

Want to connect with anyone and communicate with impact, whether you’re speaking or writing? Think of the needs of your audience, tap into your own experiences and unleash the power of a story.

Let’s talk
Need a specialist who will help your organization unlock the secrets to effective communication, powerful writing, eye-catching photography and social media solutions to maximize your marketing? Whether you’re looking for a writer or a speaker, I can help. Call me at 515-971-4415, or send me a note (, and let’s start the conservation.

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