Stories are a great way of connecting with people as good storytelling is emotive. That’s what makes great books and great movies: they tell engaging and emotive stories. Have you ever had feedback that you need to be more motivating or inspiring? If so, storytelling could be the answer.
Anne Taylor is an Executive Coach and author of the new book, Soft Skills Hard Results and shares some of the secrets associated with telling a good story. So, what’s the secret of storytelling?
It’s about thinking of your stories before you might even need or want to share them. That’s right, plan them in advance. The process is the same for your professional or personal stories, depending on your audience; however, here the focus is on professional.
It’s not as complicated as the following nine steps imply. I’ve just broken it down in detail to walk you through the process step-by-step:
1. Peak moments
Think about your professional journey, what have been the highlights, low points, key lessons learned and crossroads. Also, think about what matters to you as a leader and where that purpose or motivation came from. If you’re struggling, think of some things you’d like a graduate to know about leadership and try and remember where you learned that lesson in your career personally.
2. Your situation
From the specific events and moments in time identified above, think about your situation – your thoughts, feelings, motivations and relationships with those involved in each of those peak moments.
Identify the lessons you learned from each of those peak moments. In other words, what is the moral of each of your peak moments? This will become the ‘so what’ of your story and be useful in identifying which story to share and when to share it, so stay tuned.
Which topics or morals might be the most applicable to your current leadership situation? Which might be helpful to the challenges your team members are facing now?
Take the topic or moral from above and create the story, including the situation, the learning moment, the feelings and the ‘so what’ or moral.
Put in more emotion (you probably have skimped on feelings as so many people do), share the angst and the light bulb feeling, include specific details to add flavour and paint a picture, and lastly, reveal how that transformed or impacted you from that moment on.
Delete some of the factual filler or extra words. The length of your story should be about 3 to 5 minutes. You could have a slightly longer version depending on the application.
8. Practise – by yourself
First read it over and feel it. Then read it out loud to hear yourself say it (you don’t want the first time you hear it to be when another hears it). Then read it in front of a mirror, occasionally looking at your face in the mirror. This increases your comfort level further. Hone the message and wording, if necessary.
This isn’t about memorising a story, it’s about knowing the structure and flow of what you want to convey. Try it out with a low-risk person and judge the impact. Or you could ask for feedback!
Also, watch how others tell stories – what works and what doesn’t for them.
Extract taken from new book Soft Skills Hard Results by Anne Taylor. She is an Executive Coach & Author, helping successful, results-driven leaders improve their people skills to be more effective and satisfied. Her website www.directions-coaching.com offers a range of materials, a sign-up for a complimentary session and a download of the first chapter of her book.