Psst, Hey Wanna Get High? On Stories?

Stories make us feel good. Yup, that good.

According to novelist and neurologist, Robert Burton, when we hear something with a beginning, middle, and an end, we get a hit of dopamine. Dopamine is our natural feel-good, high chemical. This is why we love and are addicted to stories. From childhood fairytales to novels, to TV shows and movies, stories have us hooked.

From an evolutionary standpoint getting high on stories makes sense. Stories serve many purposes in society. A few of the primary functions are to educate, inspire, motivate or entertain. A story that creates a shared point of view allows us to see from the same place of understanding. This is key to creating a culture of agreement and shared values.

The following is a story my mother told me about road safety when I was a little girl.

When my mother was a girl she lived next door to a boy who liked to play basketball in his front yard. One day, when he was playing ball, it bounced out into the street. He ran after it, without looking both ways. A car swerved to miss him, but it was too late. He was rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and needed a cast. Even worse than that he needed bed rest and his birthday was a few days away. He had to miss his own birthday party. And that’s why you always look both ways before crossing the road.

When you are a kid death is a big concept to grasp. Even as an adult, it is difficult to come to terms with. But missing your own birthday party? That is terrible, we all know that!

I am now an adult, but I will never forget that story. It has taught me to remember to look before crossing the street and become a useful storytelling tool. Thanks, Mum!

It is a simple story, but the message is clear, ‘Always look both ways before crossing the road.’

Are there any challenges you are facing within your business or organisation? A simple story maybe just the thing you need. Imagine a story that explains how a product or service works, or a narrative that inspires your customers to follow you on a social media storytelling journey.

A narrative strategy could be just the ticket. A narrative strategy uses the power of stories within your personal or professional realm to create a strategic way to inspire, education or motivate your employees, co-workers or clients.

I used the story of the little boy who missed his own birthday to explain how attaching a story to a message is effective. It conveys a message in a memorable and efficient way. The right stories addressing the right pain points within your business or organisation will create the same results.

If you want a hit of story, get in touch about my mini-narrative strategy sessions. I come to your location and run a short session to create a story for a problem that you need to solve.

Feed your story addition with me, it will feel good, I promise!

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!

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.

Why Should I Care About Your Content?

Attention and time are at a premium. If you find you are experiencing information overload, so is your prospective audience.

And yet things do manage to grab our attention, how does that happen?

If matters to you, it will matter to someone else. Viral content is something people connect with so much they want to share it.

How do we tap into this power of caring and sharing?

Does this sound familiar? “Write about what you know” or “You can’t sell something you don’t believe in.”

Personal experience wrapped in a story creates a message that sticks. Where do these stories come from?

Imagine two rings, one ring is your personal story and one is your audience’s needs or interests. The goal is to find the sweet spot, that place that overlaps. That is the place where you harvest your stories from.

This is key to telling a story that gets noticed. People only pay attention to something that directly relates to their lives. This is out of necessity, there is so much content out there.

Connecting with and harvesting your own stories is a skill that can be learned. It is process of uncovering why you think something is important. Then fleshing out this ‘why’ into stories that illustrate your connection to what you do.

The next step is thinking about your customer base, what are their needs? What stories would appeal to them? You need to tell the right stories to the right people to grab someone’s attention. Creating a story that stands out is imperative to creating the traction you want with your audience. Focusing on universal themes like health, love, success or loss are powerful because we have all experienced these situations.

How can you tell if you story is worth telling? Make sure the story resonates with you first. First ask yourself, what do I love about this story? Tell your story to other people, what did they find interesting about the story? Take that feedback away and start crafting a narrative that sticks. Make the theme is universal enough to speak resonate with a large audience and small enough to include your unique point of view. It is your life that gives the story it’s meaning.

I will be facilitating a workshop at Pausefest on February 13, exploring the world of Explainer Videos. I will teach the fundamentals of creating a narrative for your video and my co-facilitator will focus on DIY techniques for producing your video. For more tickets and information visit the Pausefest website.

 

 

Be Fearless : Your Message Is Your Eye In The Storm

“I feel like I have done it all, I have made all of the mistakes and now I am fearless.“

– Paraphrased from an interview with Barak Obama on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF.

 

It is not possible to be completely without fear, it is a natural part of being alive. Another way of looking at it is being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This is how one day Obama decided he is going to run for president. He had to get used to putting himself in places that not feel comfortable, situations that were scary. The only way to move forward and pursue his goal is to decide feeling scared or uncomfortable is ok. He can sit with that feeling and get his message out into the world.

It is possible to be your own eye in a storm. The tempest may be swirling, but you can remain steady, secure and centred.

Fearlessness isn’t about ignoring feelings; it is about feeling that no matter what happens you will make the right choice.

Communicating with a community or audience works in the same way. The message should be the same, regardless of what is happening around it. The context and the delivery may change, but the values should be consistent.

Be fearless with your message. That means showing up and putting it out there. Sometimes there is negative feedback or low open rates for a newsletter. Does this mean change tack and go with a totally new approach? If it isn’t working make adjustments to the delivery, but leave the core message intact.

Do not let the situation or output change the core message, allow it to be the eye in the storm of marketing and promotion. Stay true to the message and the message will persevere.

Explore Your Story

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Where do your most meaningful stories come from? From your lived experience. They come from your childhood, your friends, travels or working life.

How do you identify the stories that move you? You don’t forget them. You see or hear something and it reminds you of that event or time in your life.

Take note of this and take a moment to explore this story.

Ask yourself –

Why do I keep coming back to this story?

What aspects of this story do I re-tell the most?

Does this story motivate me to do something different or remember what is important to me?

There are no easy answers to these questions. They are open to interpretation.

Your unique life is a well which you can draw on. All the wonderful stories you need to tell just waiting inside you.

Use them to illustrate a point in a presentation or create a blog post or explain your business to a prospective client.

Remember if it is important to you, it is important to someone else. It will resonate. Tell and share your story.

And then it happened…

And then it happened…

I used to think that the most magical phrase in storytelling was, ‘What happened next?’

But now I understand that we need the release from the next and the new of each chapter. We need to pause for a moment in a place and rest before the next twist and turn.

“I decided to stop trying and focus on me, and then it just happened…”

“I realized that I had been asleep for years, and then I just woke up…”

“The eagle turned as it flew, tipping it’s body slightly and then it happened…

I have heard all of these phrases in the past week. I realised that some of the most memorable moments we have is not the ‘thing’ that happened. It is the moment just before the event.

In a few days I will be on a plane. I am at a moment of rest before a huge adventure. I am at the point in my own life story where I am about to say, “And then it happened…”

But what I wonder will ‘it’ be. I don’t know, but I bet it will be one hell of a ride.

I Want To Record Your Story!

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Free workshop at NAB Village May 8th!

Now that I have your attention, a bit of info! As you all know, I am deeply, madly, completely addicted to storytelling. Now I want to hear your story! I will be at NAB Village on May 8th in room number 8. I want to hang out with you and record your story on an App developed by Story Corps. Story Corps, a podcast on NPR has been recording and broadcasting people’s stories for over 10 years.

Dave Isay, the founder and president of StoryCorps, was awarded the $1 million TED Prize, given to one person each year as a means to grant their big wish for the world. Dave wants to give everyone the opportunity to record and tell their story. And I want to help him!

For more insight into Story Corps and their app, listen to this podcast, it will make you laugh, cry and understand how necessary it is to unearth the beautiful stories we all have in us! It is called ‘StoryCorps 420: TED-time Stories’ just scroll down it is the third interview on their site. You can also watch Dave Isay’s TED talk if you wish!

Join me from 10:30 to 4:00 on Friday May the 8th and I will use the App to record your story. I would like to tell you more, but you will have to register to find out!

What Is Your Word?

One-Word-Spendlove-and-Lamb

One word is all you need to make a connection. One word can make people sit up, take notice and introduce themselves. We don’t need a lot of words to describe ourselves. We need one perfect word.

What is your word? Mine is ‘story’.

Discovering your word is not a simple task. It is an ongoing process. Start by asking yourself some questions. What makes you tic? What turns your head? What makes you feel good?

Write down words that come up as you ask questions. Keep digging, don’t stop at the first layer. Keep going. What do you love? How you do what you do? Where would you would like to be?

Start focusing on the words that resonate with you. When you have two stop. You might need them both. If one has more meaning for you, get rid of the extra one. Keep the one word. Work this word into your the next post, tweet or article. See who notices it and let me know what happens next!

The Story of Falling In Love

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Stories help us fall in love. Telling the right story could put you in the arms of a new lover or reignite a passion you once shared with a partner. What story do you tell to make this happen? That is hard part. This is something we cannot know for certain.

So what do we do? We tell our story relentlessly. We keep going until we tell it to the right person. The person, who truly connects with us, will understand our story in the same way we do. They will see us and say, “That is my story too. I understand that.”

This is what we all want, connection with the right people or person to make our lives richer.

Every story is not for everyone. But tell it to the right person and anything is possible.