Tips for a Story that Grabs

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When I think about the times I was inspired to take action, to “step up to the plate” and be a better person, to do something hard, or different, I remember the faces of the people telling me a story. Those faces were full of passion for the points they were making. And with the situations they described, the people they talked about, the things that happened, I was THERE. The stories they told became a bridge that nudged me to change something in my life.

A good story can become a great story when you keep a few simple points in mind.

1. Start by thinking about the brief message that you want people to connect with. Once you are clear on the message, then work on how to illustrate it.

2. Use your own experience. The best stories reveal vulnerabilities that show the story teller as human, authentic and accessible. This helps to create the very important personal connection.

3. Keep a log or journal of important points you want to deliver to your team. And jot down stories from your past, especially those gripping ones about hardship, conflict, loss, overcoming barriers, that could be used to make your messages come to life.

4. Make sure your audience understands the context for your story. If you’re not sure of the audience, look for the common denominator level in your story that most people can relate to. Does it make as much sense for a high school senior at her first job as well as a corporate CEO?

5. Don’t be the hero in your story . . . be in it, but make sure it’s not ABOUT you.

6. Keep the story simple with the idea that less is more. Provide just enough detail to enhance important parts, especially to help listeners connect with the emotion and the imagery. If it doesn’t move the story along, get rid of it.

7. Once the story is created, practice telling it, especially the beginning and the ending. Where will your brief message come in? Is it stated or not? Is it important at the beginning AND the end? Write it down. Practice it again. But don’t aim for perfection. This is not a contest. . . and it will have the most impact if it comes from your passion.

For more about good story creation, read Jill’s blog post HERE.