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How to Tell a Story – 7 Best Practices

by | Jul 12, 2016


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Do you ever hear your VPs/team/clients/prospects tell you “Get to the point” when you share a story? (If not, they’re just being nice.)

Stories make your message stick. To keep your VPs/team/clients/prospects listening, authentically, to your stories follow these seven story telling best practices.

  1. Use dialog. If your story involves people talking to people, don’t say: “My mom was nervous to meet Einstein because my father gave her instructions to be quiet.” Don’t tell us, show us. Rather, using a male voice, “Anne – You’re a German version of Lucille Ball but don’t talk too much! If Einstein get’s perturbed he’ll just stand up, walk away, and go back to work!”
  2. Practice. Tell your story out loud – to a human being, not a mirror. See if it works. Does it make sense? Is it too long?
  3. Figure out “the moral of the story” – what’s in it for them – and share this.
  4. Move the story forward. Ask yourself, when you want to add in sidebars, whether this extra info makes your story easier to understand.
  5. Use details, but not too much detail! That’s why you need to do Tip #2: Practice. We want to see what you are describing. If you’re telling a story about finishing cancer treatments don’t say, “That was my brother’s final radiation treatment.” (boring). Rather, say, “Mike walked out of a bad-aqua blue treatment room and high-fived his doctor while singing, ‘I’m DONE!’”
  6. Keep a story log. Your best material comes from your experiences. While cliché…. truth is better than fiction. If you’ve ever said, “You just can’t make that stuff up” AND your story engages others; write it down. That is a story that might be perfect at some corporate meeting, investor pitch, or sales training.
  7. Place your characters and be consistent. If you’re doing a dialog using your store manager and your customer in your story, keep one of them on your left (the manager in this example) and your customer on your right. Then we know who is who as you move through your dialog and story.

More story telling tips to come. And start that story log.

© 123RF Stock Photo

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog



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