Swallowing Knives

“I went to the hospital to remove the knife that I had swallowed. When the surgeon found the five others in my stomach it turned into a much bigger ordeal than anticipated.”

Want to hear more? Yes you do. A person swallowing one knife, let alone five is shocking.

I paraphrased this from a webinar I took with Alex Bloomberg of Planet Money and Gimlet Media fame. Alex focused on the power of surprise to create an engaging story. The quote was from an interview he conducted with a person who had a compulsion to eat metal objects. Alex knew the person went into surgery to remove a knife, but the subsequent five was a complete surprise.

During the webinar Alex played the audio of the original broadcast. He was so surprised he exclaimed, ‘What the f*ck!” The radio version was beeped, so why did he choose to keep this strong reaction in? He explained moments of surprise give stories power. If the interviewer was surprised, they know their audience will be as well. The shock expressed by the interviewer helps to build the dramatic tension as they and the audience get to the bottom of this shocking statement together.

To tell a story with a hook or surprise might sound hard, but it is achievable. First you have to understand why the story you are telling is interesting before you can find the element of surprise.

Alex Bloomberg has a formula to achieve this. My story is about (X) and it is interesting because (Y). If I was to apply this formula to the story about the knives above it might go something like this –

“My story is about a person who can’t who can’t stop swallowing metal objects. They are so fearful of judgment they hide their condition from everyone. Even from doctors, including one who was operating to remove a knife they had swallowed and during the operation found five more knives inside their stomach.”

The theme of this story is people who suffer from mental health issues often find it difficult reaching out for help. This is a troubling situation, but without a unique angle it won’t necessarily create an engaging narrative.Delving into a uniquely personal story about mental health to find a unique twist makes it a sticky story.

I heard that story just once and I can recall it very easily. When creating a story for a blog post, an article or even a presentation, if it doesn’t contain a surprising insight, you haven’t dug deep enough.

What are you waiting for? Get digging!

 

If you are interested in learning to deliver you message like a pro, learn the fundamentals of narrative with my Storytelling Interactive Board Game at TheKnowledge Market! Hope to see you there!

How To Tell Your Story Using SnapChat

What is Snap Chat?

Have you snapped anyone lately? This doesn’t mean participating a heated discussion or argument. Snapping is messaging via the app SnapChat. If you haven’t had time to explore this mystifying platform, read on!

Snap Chat is a video and photo-based messaging app. The reason why people and brands are flocking to it is because it is one of the only social media platforms that offer true storytelling capabilities. How is that you ask? Isn’t it just a private messaging app for teenagers and uni students. Technically yes and yes, but it is also so much more!

The gold of SnapChat the ‘Stories’ function. Stories give people the ability to publish live content to a story that can be viewed by anyone who has added you on SnapChat. The public nature of a ‘story’ means that it is a good way to ‘show’ people snippets of your life.

Keep it ‘Snappy’

When telling your story on SnapChat be snappy, consistent and fun! Add different people into the mix with interviews, as well as thoughts from yourself. One of the central tenets of storytelling is showing and not telling your audience what is going on.

You get 10 seconds per snap before the app stops your ability to record more. That is fine, just add your snap to your story and continue by recording your next snap. Each snap is only visible for 24 hours after publishing, but the beauty of the story function is the ability to continuously add content. This leads to continuity and higher engagement with people returning to see what happens next!

‘Show’ Don’t ‘Tell’

What is ‘Showing’ vs ‘Telling’? Telling is explaining or describing something that could be conveyed better visually or through action.

For example, you are enjoying an evening on the town. Filming a menu and various shots of food as it arrives at the table ‘shows’ people that you are having a meal out. ‘Telling’ would be a shot of just your face as you explain you are in a restaurant waiting to have dinner. Showing people what the restaurant actually looks like and the action of receiving food is more interesting than you explaining this in isolation.

That does not mean that there should never be elements of ‘telling’ in your snaps. There are times when it is important to add commentary so viewers understand what you are showing them. Say during our hypothetical dinner a dish arrives at the table only to be removed untouched a few moments later. This is where added commentary is important to ‘show’ your audience why that happened. It would be important to say to the camera, “We ordered the crab but received lobster accidentally, so we have sent it back to the kitchen. We can’t wait to try the crab here, this place is famous for it.”

The reason this isn’t ‘telling’ is because the comments explain something that you would not be able to understand otherwise. While ‘telling’ supports the action, it should never replace it.

Get Personal With Your Story

One of the most powerful aspects of storytelling with SnapChat is the ability to use it as a diary. Use it to share your thoughts or interview people who your audience might find interesting. For light-hearted interviews use a filter for a bit of fun. Personal thoughts can offer insight into ‘why’ you do what you do. It is a fun way to share what makes you tick and what your daily life is like.

Is It For Me?

The short answer is yes. Everyone from financial planners to entrepreneurs to health and wellness professionals are on SnapChat. The question is not, ‘Is SnapChat for me? The question is, “What can SnapChat do for me?” The answer to that will vary, but the apps ability to deliver engagement and followers does not.

More Information

If you are interested in learning more about SnapChat and live in Melbourne I run workshops, check out the next date Workshops here. All you need to bring is something to take notes on and your smartphone with SnapChat pre-downloaded.

Happy Snapping!

Who Is The Mysterious Lady?

There was nothing unusual about the small wooden pipe except for a tiny glass rectangle protruding from the bottom of its bowl. This piece of glass is so small it could be easily missed. For those who don’t miss it will see a black and white image if they press their eye against it at just the right angle. A magnified image of a woman wearing a peasant style dress with loose dark waves of hair around her face sits within a gold frame.

The woman in the image has a slight smile on her relaxed lips, not unlike that of another mysterious famous lady, The Mona Lisa.

How can one compare the Mona Lisa to a miniature photo of a peasant woman magnified on the bottom of a pipe? The similarity lies not in what it is, but what it represents.

The image in the tiny glass window the size of a hole in a large knitting needle is fascinating. Who was this woman? Was she the wife, daughter or lover of the pipe’s owner? And who was the skilled crafts person who created such a small and perfect magnified glass image on the bottom of this pipe?

This is something that I am not ever likely to find out. That is what makes this story great. It is a mystery with more questions than answers. This pipe and its hidden treasure are very old and the woman, the pipe’s creator and the original owner are all long gone.

A good story does not have all of the answers. A good story leaves something for the imagination of the reader to insert his or her own interpretation into. A story that asks questions allows the audience to create their own meaning in the story.

Who is the lady in the pipe? Who do you think she is? Tell me in a comment below!

Want To Know A Secret?

I have a secret super power, the power of story. I am not the only one who posses this power. We all have it. Some of us understand this power and use it to the best of our ability. There are others who have not yet fully realised their powers.

There is always a period in every super hero’s story where the power comes out unexpectedly and surprises everyone. Take for example Superman. When Superman was just a boy on a farm named Clark Kent, a tractor rolled over trapping his father underneath. Clark heard his cries for help and rushed to him, pulled the tractor off and saved his life.

There is a plot device in storytelling called the Hero’s Journey. The mythologist Joseph Campbell coined this term. He says that all stages of a hero’s journey are similar. There is always a part of each narrative where adventure calls a character to accept a journey. The character then trys to talk himself or herself out of taking the challenge. The call is eventually answered and the hero goes on to meet their destiny. This is what happens when Clark Kent accepts his extraordinary powers and becomes Superman. The challenge and journey represents the process of becoming yourself. It is also what unlocks your ability to help those around you.

So what does this have to do with the power of storytelling? Your stories are your super powers. Your story can connect you to the right people to move your personal and business goals forward. Stories ‘show’ people the kind of person you are, what your skills are and what makes you unique.

Like all super powers storytelling is something we are all born with. It just takes time to hone it with training and persistence.

How do you do this you ask? I will be running my interactive Storytelling Board Game soon.

Stay in touch with me here and I will let you know more!

You Are Not Alone, The Power of Story!

I hate writing; I love having written.

– Dorothy Parker

Stories are written behind locked doors in a room with windows drawn by a figure hunched over a desk. Their fingers flying over a keyboard, stopping only for food which is quickly eaten without even tasting it.

Sounds like fun right? Wrong! It doesn’t sound fun at all. In fact many writers describe the act of writing as a process of that extracts it’s pound of flesh.

However, all great writers have great readers. Every story comes into this world with a support system around them. Writers share their stories with treasured friends, editors, agents and publishers who help them shape their narratives as they come to life. That process of sharing is what keeps the writer from going insane and on track as they create their story.

Creating a story doesn’t have to be hard or lonely. I have created a way for people to come together in a collaborative way to tell a single story. I have developed an interactive board game to train teams of people the fundamentals of story structure. We then take the story structure and connect it to a narrative that connects to a theme and delivers a clear message.

Stories are what create and maintain cultures. They shape not only how we see ourselves, but how we see the world.

Storytelling is part of communicating effectively, as well as create cultures around our collective narrative.  Learning the fundamentals of storytelling in a fun and interactive way will facilitate change in your organisation through the power of story.

This is only the first chapter, stay tuned to hear what happens next!

Star Trek, Whoopie Goldberg and Coworking

When Whoopi Goldberg was a little girl she loved watching Star Trek. The following is a story she tells about her relationship with that show. She remembers seeing the character Uhura for the first time and being absolutely floored. She had never seen a black woman on TV as anything other than a maid or in a service role.

Apparently the young Whoopi sat up and said, “Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!”

In that moment she realised she could be anything that she wanted to be. She realised then that the future was open to her and anything was possible.

Whoopi Goldberg has a long career in stand up, film, hosting talk shows and advocating for human rights, women’s included. No doubt about it, Whoopi is kind of a big deal and it all started with seeing a black woman in a position of respect and power.

This week I attended the opening of One Roof Coworking. Yes, another coworking space has opened in Melbourne, not usual in the scheme of things. What is unusual is that it is a female focused coworking space, the intention is to attract female entrepreneurs, cofounders and CEOs in the start up and business community.

I know what you are thinking. I thought the same thing, “How is separating women into their own space a solution to some of the problems currently happening in society?”

I used to agree until I heard the story about Whoopi Goldberg. I understood that sometimes it is important to put yourself in a place where you will be seen. So that someone who identifies with you, will see you and understand what is possible.

I think this is important. Not so women can be separated or secluded or sequestered, but so we can easily be found. If there is someone thinking can I do that, is that path open to me? I want to be there to help, to be found and be seen.

Don’t Be Boring

Life is complicated. No doubt about that. No one likes unnecessary drama or problems. A nice steady dependable day is always a comfort.

Let’s compare that thought process to sourcing content for one of your social media channels. Then dependable and steady is almost a sin. Never underestimate the power of surprise. Aim instead to delight, inspire, surprise or teach someone something new.

The exploring the unexpected is part of what makes a story shareable. If it is interesting your audience will want to share this content with their friends. Give someone a way to look clever, funny or interesting and they will take you up on your offer.

There is a rule in live theatre, “Never bore your audience.” This is also the number one rule for content creation or storytelling. Your audience’s attention is precious. If you take it for granted they will leave you and your boring content for someone more stimulating.

How do you identify an interesting story? Ask yourself the following questions. Did you learn something? Did you feel like telling the story to someone else after hearing it? If that answer is yes to either of those questions then it is an interesting story.

Go out and tell your story! If you would like to join me next Friday at NAB Village for a free Storytelling Game Workshop please email me at megan @ Spendloveandlamb.com for more information!

Free Storytelling Workshop!

Save the Date!

 My Interactive Storytelling Workshop Date Is April 8th 2016, 4:30 – 6 pm!
This workshop is going to be fun. I can’t wait for you to join me at NAB Village room 5. If you don’t know which room that is don’t worry, there will be a sign. After the game stay for a drink or two. What a great way to finish off a week.

This workshop will be a live interactive board game experience. If you would like to play and bring a friend to play along, let me know. They are more than welcome, just hit the button below to register yourself and your friends!

If you can’t make this date, I am very sad to hear it! Hopefully you can play a game with me some other time. If you can make it and would like to attend please send me an email at megan @ spendloveandlamb.com

When you register I will send you an update each week in the lead up to the event and give you a clue towards a problem we will be solving together. This week’s clue is –

What should each and every story have? Think about this, I want you to remember to bring a representation of this to our workshop. This could be anything. The actual object, a photo of it or something that reminds you of it. We will need these objects to play with in the workshop.

I can’t wait….

Life Is Lived In The Little Moments

Life is not about the big stuff. Everything that is important is quite small.

We tend to think of a person’s life as a long and complex story. A biography shouldn’t be a short easy read right? It should be a complex narrative that examines a person’s loves, struggles, accomplishments and failures.

What if I said while life is complex, it is the little moments that count. Each life journey is made of millions of micro stories. All of these tales collected together create a much larger narrative. But the tiny moments carry the most meaning.

For example, the story of a wedding could start with a chance brushing of hands on a train during a morning commute to work. If that chance encounter on the train didn’t occur this couple’s life may have turned out differently. Our couple would not be tying the knot all of these months later. The moment they first touched is when this love story began.

What moments have you experienced today that you would like to share with your audience? Your ability to recognise and explain the relevance of seemingly insignificant events are the way to create the story of your life or business.

Pay attention to the little things, the small details. This is where your greater story comes together and the meaning of your life unfurls.

The next step is to tell them to the right person to move your personal and business goals forward.

Talking Digital Marketing With The Entrepreneur Social Club

 “Why would anyone care about me? Why would anyone be interested to hear what I have to say?”

A few weeks ago I shared the stage with Ray Milidoni at the  RC Coworking space as a guest speaker to The Entrepreneurs Social Club. We chatted about digital marketing to a packed room of almost 200 entrepreneurs. A young man leaned forward and asked, “What is the most popular question Australians ask in your social media training workshops?”

Essentially people are people. We all are living on this big blue ball together and many of our experiences are universal. But I did notice while training internationally, different countries had different themes.

In New York it was, “I don’t want to seem fake or unauthentic.”

In London it was, “How do I protect myself or not offend anyone online.”

In Berlin it was, “How do I know if I am secure online, how do I know that I am safe and my online identity is protected?”

What is the bigger statement here? We are all afraid of exposing our soft under bellies. We don’t want to be made vulnerable to judgment.

How do we protect ourselves online? For the most part we don’t need to, no one cares about ourselves as much as we do. It is a very rare occasion that someone is waiting for us to make a post so they can leave a negative comment. The truth is that we are our own worst critics.

The fears we have of being judged are really based on our own judgments of ourselves. Put your own judgments of yourself aside. Connect with the stories you have inside of you and put them out into the world. There is no need to worry, most feedback from your followers or readers is gentle in nature and well meaning.

If your story is important to you, it will be important to someone else. Don’t hesitate, put it out there and see what comes back to you.

(Featured in photo from left to right, Moderator Jessica Evans from The Media Institute, Ray Milidoni and myself Megan Davis. Image from tweet by Peter Reginald. A final big thank you to Jess Williams for all for your support and a lovely evening.)