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Stories Stories Everywhere: It’s not about the Right Story, Just Tell it well
The sign outside the horse read:
DO NOT TOUCH!
While the horse looked friendly enough, I believed the sign. As I looked at the sign, then the horse, then the sign, a thought struck me. What if everyone came with a sign that warned us of their tendencies? What would yours say? No, really-what would your sign say? What would you write on the sign for your boss, your spouse, your cubicle mate?
Stories are everywhere. When I noticed the sign I knew I wanted to take a picture of it for some use in the future. I did not know it would become the intro for a story. There is so much that can be done with the
story of this sign. That’s how stories are born. They are everywhere. The hard part is not to find the story. The challenging part is to connect the story to your audience and to the lesson you want the audience to get.
Every culture has valued storytelling since the beginning of time. Look at Hollywood. Hollywood is a billion dollar a year industry. What does Hollywood do best? Hollywood and Bollywood tell stories. A blockbuster or an independent film is at its core a story.
You, like Hollywood, can increase your value when you can effectively tell your story. Everyone has a story to tell. The problem is that often you don’t tell the right story and you don’t use it well. Your story is your competitive edge. It is your responsibility to:
1. Correctly identify your story
2. Communicate it concisely and effectively and
3. Protect your story by connecting the dots. Connect the story to your audience and connect the story to a lesson of some kind.
Just as a speech is a mathematical formula at its core, so is a story.
Let’s go over the math. As much as I don’t like math- any speech –PowerPoint included is a mathematical formula at its core. FYI all communication including meetings are a mathematical formula at their core.
Let’s say you have 20 minutes. Your intro needs to be 10-15% of the length of your speech. Let’s say 3 minutes. Your conclusion should be 15-20% of your speech. Let’s say 4 minutes. That is 7 minutes of your speech leaving you 13 minutes for the body.
If a story takes 10 minutes, that leaves you 3 minutes for everything else. Can you say something of importance about each main point in one minute?
Three Steps to Connect Your Dots:
Take the scalpel of clarity to your story. .
Get to the lesson in your story quickly. There are many good stories that you can tell. It has to be more than a good story.
It is your job to connect the lesson to the story and to connect the story to the audience. It is not the job of the audience to “get it”. You have to do the work to connect, connect, and connect.
Learn how to tell your story, and connect the dots to get your desired results. Your goal is to tell a story and tell it in such a way that it will move your agenda forward. Edit your story so that it will help you communicate your competitive edge. Then you and Hollywood will really have something in common.
Look around your office. Imagine a sign on the door of each person you work with that said I BITE, or I DO NOT BITE, or I BITE WHEN NOT FED. Once you start looking there are stories everywhere.
By Leslie Unger