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We’ve focused on storytelling format for the past few posts.
It’s an important part of effectiveness, but it isn’t the whole. At its core, storytelling is about eliciting an emotional response from your audience.
That emotional response does not have to come at the expense of knowledge or facts. You can intertwine the two and create effective stories that sell your ideas and values.
Do I have to use a specific template to tell my stories? What is the true value of using stories in my presentations, in my meetings, in my communication. And then how long should it be? How long is too long? All in this episode.
Welcome to upSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. I’m your host, Michel Shah lead UpSkiller at UpSkill Community. UpSkill Talks is a podcast for leaders, leaders who are actively seeking innovative and creative ways to interact lead themselves and others. In every episode, through real life stories and enlightening conversations, we will explore the challenge. And opportunities real leaders face in today’s everchanging workplace. We will present you with real strategies for you to leverage your soft skills and produce transformative results. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Let us begin.
Let’s rejoin Colleen Stewart as she shares an interesting story with a really important lesson.
So I worked with a client at the end of 2020. She’s a farmer, young girl working on her family farm but about to take over that farm. She’s pretty young to be doing that. Late 20’s, early 30’s and she was invited to be a part of a panel at a conference.
And everybody on that panel was sent five questions about 2020, and she was expected to have an answer for each of these questions.
And she called me because she said “Colleen I can’t answer these questions,” she said as she burst into tears, “because quite frankly 2020 was awful and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this event. If I cry I’m going to lose all credibility. I’m a young woman with a bunch of guys up there. I don’t want to cry.”
And so I said OK we’re going to work on your stories for each of these questions. And we did, we crafted five stories. Authentic, true stories from 2020. She came back from that conference and she said to me, “Colleen, not only did you give me content, and I felt confident and I nailed it” but she said those stories have helped me see 2020 very differently. I don’t see it anymore as a year of tragedy. I see it as a year of triumph. If we can give that gift back to the people around us, that’s pretty incredible. And if you can give that gift to yourself by crafting and figuring out your own stories, that’s pretty incredible.
Colleen knows we are all a bunch of stories walking around and as she demonstrated, we’re all having the same story. We’re all here. We find a way to make meaning out of our own lives.
We try to solve the problems in front of us. Ultimately we all want to be able to get better to serve, to leave something behind, to transform, to have an impact.
That’s the goal. That’s the journey that all of us are on.
The pathway that we take may be slightly different. That’s why we’re all here.
That’s why stories are critical tools for connecting us, for compassion, for empathy, for building quality relationships and for inspiring our humanity.
Therefore, in this world that we live in today there is no greater gift than the ability to create and tell our stories effectively and to share them with each other.
So I’m really excited for what we’ve got here. And I want to Colleen thank you so very much. I think everyone got some great value nuggets from that. I’m going to take a minute now to address some questions from UpSkillers and share some additional insights before wrapping up this episode.
How long should a story be? I know it varies, but how long should we allow someone to sit and listen to a story. I know it depends on how compelling it is, and everything else, but is there an ideal length.
The most important consideration is not how compelling it is. It’s what’s the purpose of the story. The medium makes a big difference too. So if you’re doing a story for instance on an Instagram reel it’s going to be limited by how long a reel can be.
If you’re going to do something like one of those Instagram stories then it’s going to be limited by that. For instance, last night when I presented at the graduation ceremony, I have five minutes to cover everything I need to cover.
And I’m sharing two or three stories, so it will determine how long the stories need to be.
The stories don’t need to be very long stories. For instance, last night I shared the story of how those buildings in the Distillery District came to be. I shared the story of how the initiative came to be. I shared the story of the Chinese bamboo. I shared three or four stories in one five-minute speech.
It could be one story that needs more time to develop. Your story, your way.
This story that you’re telling here is the story of how your business came to be.
This story is a big deal. And it’s a big deal because it’s a story of how you transform trauma and sorrow and the lemons that were thrown at you into lemonade, into something positive, a business has come out of all these things that life has thrown at you.
So I really think I really like that story. The shorter the story, the more user-friendly it is, the more use it has. You can drop it into a reel, a video and include it in longer presentations.
And if it’s shorter people can remember it.
And now let me take a moment to sum up some of the story essentials before we close out.
So every story must have a beginning, a middle and an end.
If you follow the work of J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter’s author, she says it needs to have a “trigger” a “transformation” and a “life lesson.”
So she uses a different framework from beginning, middle and end.
If you take a look at what Pixar does, Pixar uses a different framework.
It doesn’t matter the framework that works for you. And sometimes one framework is suitable for one situation and another framework for another situation. But if you notice the Pixar movies they follow a seven-step process.
“Once Upon a time…there was…things were going well until one day…because of that…Until finally…and ever since…”
And yes, the inciting incident, the trigger, the beginning. The story gets moving. How do you trigger the conflict situation we’re going to be exploring in the story.
So when we’re going to do the story practice, I just want to make sure you’re thoughtful, clear on your purpose, you make it emotional, make it real. And there are so many different emotions so we want to make sure we’re exploring the wide range of emotions and choosing the emotion that’s suitable for your story. Whether that’s joy, sorrow, happiness, delight. Whatever the story needs to convey.
Choose the appropriate emotion and don’t reduce your emotions to just a couple of the most popular ones. Choose the one that’s going to be needed for your particular situation.
But more than anything else, make sure that whatever you choose to share will allow people to connect.
The Dr. Seuss story “Green eggs and ham” brings a familiarity that the story breeds. All of us are familiar with that story and find ways to take the audience on a journey.
When you’re watching a movie the directors and creators and producers take you on a journey. The story’s so skillfully crafted. They know when they’re going to make you cry, they know when they’re going to make you excited. They know what they’ll make you experience as they walk you through that journey.
And you have to think about that for yourself, so keep it simple and weave in your value proposition.
We’re talking about business stories, we’re talking about stories that will help us gain value. Whether it’s in business, as professional, students or faculty. We’re talking about what value do we bring and how do we use stories to highlight those values.
Thank you for listening to this episode of UpSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. We bring you new episodes every Monday. Please take a moment to subscribe, leave a five star rating and a written review at apple podcast. Or follow us on. By Google podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, don’t forget to share UpSkill talks with other leaders like yourself. So they too may gain the skills and insights to produce amazing results. Please go to UpSkillCommunity.com to review show notes and learn how you can join a community of leaders from across the globe. Collaborating to lead in a more meaningful and impactful way. I’m your host, Michel Shah. And again, thank you for joining me on this episode of UpSkill Talks.
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