Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Telling stories isn't enough

Yes, stories are powerful.
Yes, stories are what people remember most.
Yes, stories are better than statistics or quotes.
Yes, stories are what people connect with most.
Yes, stories are the best way to communicate a message.

But.

You can’t just tell the story. That’s not enough.

You’ve got to “stick the landing,” as Story Theater founder Doug Stevenson says.

So, when your story is over, don’t just move on to the next story.

First, figure four things:

1. Lessons. Sure, that was a great story and everything – but what did you learn?

People don’t care what you know; they only care what you’ve learned. Which makes sense since we learn not from experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences, as my mentor says.

So, think about one of your stories. Then ask yourself:

o How did this incident make you better or teach you resilience?
o What are 101 lessons I learned from ALL your experiences as a (x)?
o What wisdom have you gleaned from the hardships you’ve endured?
o What three practical lessons can you audience or readers learn from this story?

2. Universal Human Experience/Emotion. Sure, that was a great story and everything – but will people actually relate to it?

This could also be called the “Me Too” or “I Can Do It” factor. And it’s something that a LOT of speakers miss. For example, hearing some guy talk about his adventures climbing Mt. Everest on a steady diet of Snickers and snow isn’t exactly relatable to the common man.

And don’t give me that trite, motivational BS about how your audience members need to “Climb their own PERSONAL Mt. Everest.” Nice try, mountain boy.

So, think about one of your stories. Then ask yourself:

o What Universal Human Emotion happened to you during this experience?
o How does this story represent a common reality your audience can recognize?
o How does the audience identify with the dominant feelings and emotions you expressed?
o In what other areas of people’s lives can they apply the lessons of your experience?

3. Take Home Value. Sure, that was a great story and everything – but how, specifically, can people apply it to their lives?

This is the crucial moment where the speaker explicitly ASKS his audience, “What about you?” Other variations to this question include: “How are YOU going to…?” “What is YOUR organization going to do about…?” and “When was the last time YOU…?”

So, think about one of your stories. Then ask yourself:

o How can people profit from this experience?
o How does this story apply cross-industrially?
o In what kind of future situations could your audience these learnings?

4. Call to Action. Sure, that was a great story and everything – but what specific action do you want people to take, RIGHT NOW?

This is the crucial moment where the speaker explicitly CHALLENGES his audience, “Alright folks, here’s what I want you to do…?” Other variations to this question include: “I challenge each of you to…” “When you leave this room, I encourage you to…” and “When you get back to your office, I suggest that you…”

So, think about one of your stories. Then ask yourself:

o What tangible action do you want people to take, right now?
o What will response mechanism will be included in this speech?
o As a result of hearing this story, what do you want your audience members to DO, THINK or FEEL differently?

REMEMBER: You can’t just tell the story. That’s not enough.

So, next time you give a speech, be sure to include the Lesson(s), the Universal Human Emotion, the Take Home Value and the Call to Action. As a result, your audience members won’t even care if you climbed Mt. Everest or not.

Because they’ll be too busy listening.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What (else) are you doing besides telling stories?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "31 Questions to Turn Your Expertise into Money," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Nobody talking about your business?

Bummer. Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott's Brain today!