Everyone loves a good story, but how many of us are good at telling good stories? For the most part, I think we create exciting and stimulating stories about our personal lives. We certainly have a tremendous amount of material to serve as our database. We love to tell stories about our girlfriends, spouses or partners, children, grandchildren, neighbors (good and bad). And we have no problem adding emotional content and passion to our stories.

Stories are a great way to draw others in and influence their behavior, yet many of us hesitate to use the same emotions and passion in our storytelling when pitching ourselves and our businesses. As a result, the stories don’t have the impact that we desire to grab people’s attention and stimulate further conversation.

In a recent article in Fast Company, author Kaihan Krippendorf, talks about a workshop he attended on storytelling where he was told to “use lots of LOTS”.

Our facilitator, Gary Lyons, senior coach at The TAI Group, told us a story and had us dissect what we remembered. Do this, and you will realize your audience is often checked out, comatose, or unable to hear or remember what you are saying. The key to engage them is to use lots of “language of the senses,” or LOTS. When telling a story, share with us what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. When you trigger a sense in someone, you bring them into the story with you.

Think about your own story. What type of senses can you bring into your story to engage your audience?

See: How can you open someone’s eyes to “see” your value? What do they experience when they see your product, walk into your store, enter your office? What visual trigger will add to your story?

Smell: Perhaps your product or service can be best described by its scent. How can you add this to your story?

Feel: This is a great one! What does success feel like? How does someone feel when they use your product or service? What is the end result? People love to hear stories where they are transported to a new positive mindset. Take them there with you story. Is there a tactile aspect of your product? Is this something you can talk about?

Taste: “I’m so close to success, I can taste it.” We use the sense of taste figuratively and literally. If your product is edible, describe in great detail what the experience of tasting that product is all about. Yummm.

Hear: Another great sense to include in your story! People are talking about your services. There is a buzz that starts slowly and builds up to a feverish pitch. Colleagues and clients are standing up and cheering for you! YEAH! What do you hear?

Kaihan Krippendorf goes on to say about the workshop,

We close with a “before and after” exercise. One of our members gets up to practice a pitch; he is raising money for an energy tech venture. He starts speaking, but I just can’t follow. When he finishes, I realize I have not heard a word. Gary coaches him–lots of LOTS, story spine, look us in the eye, take us in–and the speaker tries again. Now it is all waterfalls of electricity pouring down the mountain, the opportunity to create something and break through with passion. I heard every word, and so much more.

Improve your ability to tell stories–about the company you are building, the project you are leading, the life you live, and will enroll people more completely and emotionally in your mission.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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  • What a good idea! I use stories all the time in my training sessions and get lots of positive feedback. Stories help people empathize and remember. However, I’ve never thought about using stories as pitches for promoting myself and my business. I tend to approach referrals as a problem-solver – and ‘how can I help you.” Thanks

    • Ann,
      That’s a great approach! Now use stories to illustrate your solutions or use stories to show that you identify with their pain or need. Or tell a story of your personal connection to what you do. Why do you do what you do? what’s your passion or story?

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