EP62: More Stories That Matter

As a reminder to my returning listeners [and readers], and to catch up with anyone new to the podcast.

Last week we dived headfirst into the subject of “Stories That Matter”.

The author of the current book I am reading right now, Annette Simmons, wrote “Whoever tells the best story wins”.

The book is full of insightful content, and it kept me turning, page after page.

There is so much good stuff in there, that I will never be able to do justice here.

I’m only ½ of the way through, and cannot wait to get through the rest.

So…

What do I do?

Do I just keep stringing you along, week after week? Spoonfeeding you bite by bite?

Or

Do I just share a little bit more and REALLY encourage you to get the book, and read it yourself?

I am going to do the latter. Share a little, and encourage you to enlarge your storytelling talent – on your own.

And – it truly is the best way for you to increase your skills.

So let’s dive into one more piece of information I gleaned from Annette’s writing.

She said…

“Sharing personal experiences earns you trust at the same time as you share information and exert influence.”

To simplify and accelerate your storytelling, Annette presents four buckets of stories that tell who you are; why you are here; and what your vision, teaching points, values, and secret empathies are.

These four buckets are the following:

  1. A time you shined. This kind of story is about doing the right thing. If you are communicating a quality such as integrity, a value such as compassion, or a learning situation, these stories will tell about a time in your life when it would’ve been easier to do anything but the “right” thing. All the outside pressures told you to do one thing, but you did the “right” thing, and everything turned out for the best. You were tested and you took the high road.
  2. A time you blew it. This is about a time when something bad happened and it was all your fault. It sounds backward, but telling a story that discloses a mistake can increase trust twice as fast as polishing the story to give it a professional finish. The very fact that you are sharing a personal failure, flaw, or embarrassing moment means that you trust your colleagues enough to go first. Trust often fails because neither side wants to go first. When you go first, you get the ball rolling, and people are more likely to trust you back. Don’t worry that people will think you are a failure—successful people always have failure stories. This story works because people can tell how you felt about failing your standards by the way you tell the story and the tone of your voice. It reveals your character because it shows how hard you can strive to overcome and change.
  3. A mentor. The third kind of story could be about an important person in your life or the personal impact of someone you may have never met. You are sharing an experience or a story that taught you something important to share the valuable lesson with others. Telling a story of admiration and gratitude toward another person who embodies the qualities or goals you value not only communicates these qualities and goals but also demonstrates to your listener the very important qualities of humility and gratitude. These two qualities are vital in good leadership. Humility and gratitude are the essences of personal dignity. Another advantage of telling a mentor story is that people often assume that you share these qualities, values, and goals. Particularly when you can’t come right out and say “I’m humble,” your stories can demonstrate that quality for you.
  4. A book, movie, or current event. There are millions of stories from books, movies, newspaper articles, or other media sources that might just be perfect to make your point. There are even ways to make these stories personal. Find a scene from a movie, book, or current event that exemplifies what you wish to illustrate. Choosing a well-known book or movie takes advantage of all the hard work the author or director put into stimulating the senses and capturing attention. If you tell a story about the movie Independence Day (1996), you don’t have to conjure up special effects to blow up the White House because the director Roland Emmerich has already done it all for you. Make the story yours by adapting the format and style (including the details of how you came across this story) or by elaborating on what this story has meant to you and why you are sharing it.

Annette went on – early in the book – to tell us that…

  • A story is a cocreation in your mind and the mind of at least one listener.
  • It’s not storytelling without a listener—it’s acting, preaching, or something else.
  • Your story should be different every time you tell it, in response to your listeners.
  • You can’t practice responding to your listener without a live listener.

From my reading – I have come to understand that it is difficult – if not impossible, to influence someone else’s feelings, unless you are willing to share your own personal feelings.

Storytelling is your opportunity to “Dance” with your reader, listener, or viewer. You are sort of saying to them “I’ll go first”. To do that, you need to find some really good stories, to tell in low-risk situations.

Nothing in the world is going to help you improve your storytelling, more than good old-fashioned practice.

Yep…

I said it.

Practice makes perfect!

But does it?

Not really.

But it is close enough, and anyway – who’s counting?

So, where DO YOU find stories?

They should be more than mere examples.

They should feel significant to your listeners

So the SECRET to finding GREAT stories, is to use the ones that feel personally significant to you. In doing this, you can elicit a level of personal engagement that wins both hearts and minds.

Storytelling is more of an art than a science. The creative process thrives on a mysterious creative force that could be described as “feeling creative,” “finding your inspiration,” or “being in the flow.”

On Teaching via Stories

One caveat for using stories to teach: remember, it only works about 70 percent of the time. When you inspire and encourage people to think for themselves, they are more actively engaged and pay better attention.

However, at times, their interpretation will not be what you expected. That’s the price you pay for creative engagement. On the other hand, their unexpected interpretation may be even better than what you had in mind.

A story carved in stone is not as good as one that is loose enough to adapt and change along the way.

One more nugget.

Telling a story that reveals some vulnerability is an act of trust that invites a reciprocal act of trust.

And…

The most important story you will ever tell is “Who I am.”

It is said that your life is the long version of the story.

That includes everything you have been, have done, haven’t done, have dreamed of, will do, will be, and won’t be is your story.

So – your ability to influence people is related to what others – your readers, listeners, and viewers – know or believe about who you are.

This is called “Intimacy”, and you can establish intimacy with Who-I-Am stories.

You do this by telling others something about yourself, so they can trust you.

We all know, it is hard to trust anyone we don’t know.

So how do you help others get to know who you are?

You have to list the qualities that will help you EARN the right to influence others.

So, start off by listing the qualities that…

…Earn you the right to influence.

Here is the list to get you started:

Trustworthy
Passionate
Responsible
Creative
Compassionate
Honest
Diplomatic

People want evidence that you have these qualities.

So, after you write out your list, start looking for stories that demonstrate these qualities.

Using the four buckets, mentioned early on, relate a story based on…

A Time You Shined
A Time You Blew It
A Mentor
A Book, Movie, or Current Event

In doing this, you will be well on your way to engaging with your readers, listeners, or your viewers.

They will be more willing to respond positively to you and look forward to your communications with them.

I hope you know, this is just a glimmer of the information Annette Simmons shared within the pages of her book, “Whoever tells the best story wins”.

I hope you find the time to read it and begin practicing the lessons it provides.

As an Amazon Prime member, I was able to snag a copy for free as a prime reader. But even if you have to pay for it, and I am sure I still will, because it is that good, know you cannot go wrong.

I’m going to call it.

This ends another podcast.

I’ll look forward to being with you again next week.

I’ll see you then.

James "Telling More Stories" Brown

P.S. - In the event, you DO find that once an episode has been produced and posted, that YOU really would like more information, just let me know. Use the Podcast Questions link, click on the link here. Or you can just leave a voice message here.

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