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Articles filed in: Story Skills

The Lost Art Of Storytelling


Your great-grandmother couldn’t send a text or an email, but she had dozens of life skills we don’t often use today.

She knew how to build a fire. She could knit and sew her clothes. She likely grew and preserved food. And she would have been a better storyteller than you and I put together.

Our ancestors needed to tell stories to gain the trust and cooperation of others. But not only that, they told stories to make sense of their world and to share that understanding.

We still need stories and story skills in the present, more than we realise.

I was at an event last weekend where two Australian authors were in conversation. They shared a lot of wisdom, but the things I remember today are the stories.

The story about being stuck on a lonely train platform after dark and the one about witnessing the giant branch of a tree crash to the ground, almost killing someone.

What stories will you tell today and why will they matter to the people who hear them?

Image by Les Anderson

Only Human


Today you and I will pay $4 for a coffee when we could have paid a dollar.

We will take vitamins it’s claimed will improve our health, even though we have no definitive proof that they do.

We will eat too much and exercise too little.

We will distract ourselves with non-urgent tasks and fail to do the one thing we promised ourselves we’d get done.

All because we are only human—beings, who as neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor says, are feeling creatures that think, not the thinking creatures who feel, we like to believe we are.

Despite knowing this, we will still try to convince our kids, our colleagues or our customers to change their minds with facts and rational arguments alone.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are neither all head or all heart and act accordingly.

Image by Shane Rounce

Believed In


The one thing all successful ideas have in common is that they spread. But why?

The essential ingredient for making ideas spread is trust.

We must trust something before we can believe in it.
When we believe in something, we stick with it and share it.

So the first question we must ask ourselves isn’t how to get our idea to spread—it’s how can we do or say something worth believing in.

*If you’d like to get your message believed, not just noticed, consider joining us for
The Story Skills Workshop today at the discounted rate for my blog subscribers. I’m looking forward to helping you to tell better stories.
Here is your link to join.

Image by Mike

The Story Advantage


How can we get more attention for our idea?
How can we increase brand awareness?
How can we make people notice our work?

These are the questions I am often asked by the people and companies in search of a message that will give them a competitive advantage.

I don’t need to tell you that getting more eyeballs on your work won’t get any easier. Every day new businesses are launched and more videos, podcasts, articles and books are published. There will never be less competition for people’s attention than there is today.

But I’d argue that getting attention and building awareness are misguided goals. Fulfilling careers and thriving businesses are built on more than being noticed. And that’s good news for all of us.

We don’t need to go in search of some elusive message that might gain fleeting awareness. We already have an inherent competitive advantage—our unique, true stories about our life and our work. Those stories, well told, enable us to share messages that build strong ties with the people we hope to serve.

Our goal must always be to do what it takes, not just to be seen—but to matter. We don’t have to manufacture a message to get more attention, we have to create more affinity by getting better at saying what’s true.

If you want to get better at telling your stories, please consider joining us for the upcoming Story Skills Workshop.

Image by Clem Onojeghuo

Storytelling Is A Skill You Can Learn


Do you remember the first time you rode a bike without training wheels? You might recall who taught you and the street you were on. The colour of the bike. The exact moment you took off. The wobbling, the delight, and cheering as you pedalled away.

One minute you couldn’t do it and the next minute you were off. You had acquired a new skill and the confidence to keep practising—so you got better and better at it.

Learning to tell your story is a lot like learning to ride a bike. There are basic principles and tools you can use to get started, and the more you practice the better you get. Story skills are essential for people like you who want to make their ideas matter.

That’s why I’ve been working with Seth Godin for almost a year to create a workshop that will help you to discover, craft and tell better stories.

The Story Skills Workshop launches next week.
Sign up here to be notified when registrations open.

Image by Eli Christman

Worthy


If you’re reading this post, it’s because it got past one or more of your filters. Maybe you were anticipating receiving it because you subscribed to my blog. Perhaps it popped up in your search results. Either way, you’re here because you chose to be—not just because I reached out to you.

The people you’re trying to reach and resonate with are filtering too. From the contacts you try to add on LinkedIn, to the clients you’re hoping to attract. They are deciding who is worthy of their permission and their time.

So the question for you and me is not just how do we get past the filters, but how do we become worthy of the limited time and attention of the people we want to matter to?

Image by JM Thomson

It’s Not For You


‘It’s not for you,’ are four of the most powerful, yet hardest, words you can say, no matter what you have to share, sell or serve.

It takes courage not to be for everyone or to close the door on what at first glance looked like an opportunity.

But when you’re brave enough to put a stake in the ground, you will find your right people. Those people who you can help. The ones who will show up, ready to act—the people who would miss you.

The flip side, of course, is that you need to recognise your people. Those who you can confidently tell, ‘This is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

We do work that matters when we know who we want to matter to.

Image by Yelp

Effective Change

Even though nine of her children emigrated to England in the 1960s to find work, my grandmother never travelled outside Ireland.

She refused to taste cucumber, even though my English aunt insisted on making cucumber sandwiches whenever she came to visit.

Even after her doctor told her cigarettes were bad for her angina. Granny still smoked forty cigarettes a day, until the day she died of a massive heart attack.

My Granny didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would get on a boat or try food she’d never eaten. And her enjoyment of smoking outweighed the downsides in her eyes.

Changemaking isn’t as simple as taking someone on a journey to something different. Effective change engages someone in the act of being the kind of person they want to be.

When you know who your people want to become, you can tell a more relevant and resonant story.

Image by Tiago Murano

Make Your Customer The Hero

Most marketing makes the company the hero.

Most companies go to great lengths to prove that their product is better.

Most marketer’s main aim is to close the sale.

The most effective marketing makes the customer the hero.

Beloved brands show people who they can become in the presence of their product.

The best marketers give people something to believe in, not just something to buy.

Image by Monica Leonardi

Better Marketers Show And Tell

Every day, we sell ourselves in adjectives that sell us short.
Leader, expert, communicator, specialist, efficient, experienced, better, faster, cheaper.

We’ve forsaken the effort of showing, for the convenience of telling.
There is a better way.

Don’t just tell us about the features and benefits of your product.
Show us how that product changed the lives of the people who used it.

Don’t just tell us about the services you offer.
Show us how you helped your client achieve the outcome they dreamed of.

Don’t just tell us about your skills and expertise.
Show us the impact those skills had on someone or something.

Your work matters. Show us why.

Image by Susan Jane Golding

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