I’ve been thinking about storytelling a lot lately. I’ve never thought of myself as a storyteller and, in fact, I’ve never spent a lot of time telling stories. I was never the type to sit in a bar, around a campfire, or at the kitchen table and spin a riveting tale for a captivated audience.
The fact is I’ve been telling stories to myself for decades, but I rarely shared them with anyone. I never thought they were particularly important. Perhaps like many of you, I didn’t think I had anything of great value to say. After all, I was just like everyone else. No one wants to hear my silly stories. What could I possibly have to say?
I not only actively resisted my own storytelling, I discounted other’s stories. When I read the newspaper, I dismissed a lot of stories journalists told because they were just one-off stories. They were just one little example. I couldn’t make any conclusions about large populations or trends based on the one or two stories in an article.
I didn’t realize that if a story moved me, it was likely moving a lot of other people, too.
When I began as a professional speaker after completing my Ph.D., I still didn’t have stories at the front of my mind. I had spent years buried in academic textbooks and articles. I didn’t see stories as the engine that drives connection between people. I told stories in my presentations, but I hadn’t yet fully understood their importance.
Then, people in my audiences started talking to me about them, saying how my stories made them laugh. The stories reminded them of things that happened in their lives. They understood more about themselves or people around them because of the stories I was telling about myself and the people around me.
It’s been only recently that I have let both my intellectual side and my emotional side understand 1) the power of stories and 2) that I have stories to tell that people might want to hear.
Stories are the bridge to other people.
They’re an emotional, informative, and entertaining way to make a connection to those around you. They’re a connection to history, geography, spirit, community, family, and, maybe most importantly, self.
Stories help bring into perspective who you were, who you are, and who you can be.
And you have them. Whether you realize it or not, you have stories—lots of stories—that can touch other people’s lives and change your own lives.
So, here are some questions for you to think about:
- What are your stories? How can you shape them to speak to people in a universal way that touches their hearts, needs, and desires?
- What is the story of your company or organization that helps your audience, your buyers, your constituents connect to you?
- What is the story of your family that helps your kids understand where they’re from, what’s important, and what’s possible?
How does your story convey the Why of what you do? That’s what people want to know – why you do what you do – why your company does what it does – and why they should care.