Updated: Jun 4, 2019
“Tell me a story.”
“What’s your story?”
“That’s quite a story.”
“Please, tell us your story.”
It’s interesting how often “story” appears in our conversations.
As young children, we implore a parent, a teacher, a grandparent – anyone, really – to tell us a story. Fanciful tales of heroes and villains or memories of days gone by. As young parents, we hear, “Just one more story” over and over to delay the final moment of really, honestly, going to bed.
Teenagers challenge us with a demanding and decidedly unloving, “What’s your story?” when we hold them accountable or enforce unwelcome rules. “That’s quite a story” can question the veracity of the circumstances behind a missed curfew. It can also express awe and pride after we learn of challenges overcome - by our children, our friends, our co-workers, our patients.
As our parents and even as our children age, we seek to maintain or reestablish connections and hold on to our memories by imploring them, “Please tell us your story.” One of the first things I do when getting to someone new is ask them to tell their story.
We all have stories, as individuals, as teams, as organizations. Our clients, our families, our teammates need – deserve – to know those stories. No matter what your story happens to be, here are tips on how to make it meaningful and memorable.
Why does the story matter to others? Is it a story meant to motivate? To inspire? Is it a cautionary tale? Think about your audience and why this particular story will be of value to them. Give us a reason to pay attention.
Get your thoughts in order. Just like the theme papers and essays we all wrote in school, good stories have introductions, conclusions, key points and effective transitions. I often write from the transitions out, filling in the content as I go, knowing that each piece is carefully woven together.
Touch your readers’ emotions. No, don’t make us break down. No need for a weep fest. It's not a screening of Avengers: Endgame (no spoilers here!). But feel free to make us smile or frown, get mad, get energized. Go ahead and tap into our memories of a first job, a big win on a project, a frustrating defeat.
Build rapport. This helps readers connect with you, and that's the ultimate goal, isn't it? It’s okay to share your aspirations, even your uncertainties. Maybe the Home page of your website or front and center on social media isn’t the ideal place for rich disclosure. However, a video in your newsletter sharing that your grandmother inspired you to start your business, or why your nonprofit’s cause will change lives is a terrific way to offer a glimpse “behind the curtain.”
Stories inform. Stories share. Stories bind us together. Think about how the story of your personal journey or that of your organization can inform and inspire. Then, pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard.
Go ahead. Tell us a story.