Stories are one of the best tools we can use as presenters to connect and move our audiences. If we want to stand out, we need to use original stories. If we want to be memorable, they need to be well-told stories. The big question is, “Where do you find them?”
First, make it your mission to find them. Decide. Seek, and ye shall find. Once you make the decision that stories will be a crucial part of your power on stage, you need to be on the search continually for your own original stories. It is like wanting to get a new car and really wanting a black Lexus. You start seeing them everywhere you go. Start doing this with your own stories!
The second step is to know the three places where you will find them. You can find many in your past, notice them as they are happening, and create them in your future. When you gather with friends and family for the upcoming holidays, ask them questions about your growing up, favorite stories about you and your experiences together. They can easily trigger story ideas that you have long since forgotten about. When I say you can create in the future, I mean that you can create an experience that could potentially lead to a great story. When I committed myself to taking the Dave Ramsey course on Financial Freedom, I played full out and documented my progress along the way. I knew that that could potentially become a story I could use. It became an essential story in my keynote and program, “Your Hero’s Journey.”
I was listening to a sermon recently and was reminded of an emotional moment from my twenties. I had asked a woman to marry me, and she had said, “No.” Now that is obviously emotional, but what the sermon also triggered was the story about my going to return the engagement ring. The retail clerk in the jewelry store tried to sell me on keeping the ring. My reaction, “Yikes! Are you kidding me, buddy!” Not a good time to try to sell me. I’m not a violent guy, but I did want to reach over the counter and slap him. Instead, I probably burst into tears. I have no idea what the point is or how I’ll use it. But, as I suggest to you, I took the all important third step.
Finally, capture it! According to author, Jack Canfield,
“Any new idea not captured within 37 seconds
is likely to never be recalled.”
We all think that we will remember it later on, and you may. More likely you will not. This idea that hit you could be gold! Grab the gold, and put it in your treasure chest of ideas. I have a word.doc that I titled “Story File.” It sits in my computer desktop for easy access. I know many speakers who use the app “Evernote” for capturing ideas easily and quickly. Use whatever works for you, but capture it immediately. Sometimes I’ll grab a scrap of paper to jot down an idea and then transfer it to my computer later. Sometimes I’ll even text someone so I’ll have a record of it.
What do you capture? Well, do not write out the whole story. If it becomes too much of a task, you risk not doing it in the moment. Just capture the crucial elements that will help you remember the story. When you decide to develop it, you want to see those crucial elements that will help you tell it. For example, what did you see and feel? Also important, capture any key dialogue and the character who said it. When I began drinking a daily bottle of water with Mila (a brand of chia seeds) to work on lowering my cholesterol, my doctor said, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” I captured his dialogue.
You may also want to capture possible points in the idea. Each story may have the potential to make several different points. Those points may evolve, too. For now, capture it. That’s what you are responsible for at this point. It will help you later on when you sit down to develop it. If you have time to capture more details, by all means, please do. Make capturing the essentials your habit.
Remember, too, that personal stories can easily make business points. Do not edit them now. It is simply the time to capture. You never know what stories or points you will make in the future. It gets much easier and faster if you have a file of original ideas from which to choose.
Happy Holidays! When you gather, ask your friends and family lots of questions to find more of your own stories. Stories are one of our most powerful tools. The more tools you have to work with, the easier it will be to move your audience. If this article gave you an idea or two, capture it!
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