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Making every word count

Hands up if you enjoyed doing precis at school....

 

At the time I hated it but I’ve more recently realised how useful it is to me now, in honing my message.

 

Over the summer I dusted off some pieces I’d written but never used. I wanted to shorten them and there’s nothing like an exercise like that for gaining real clarity about your message.

 

The first edit was around what’s relevant or not to the key point. Then it was about how to say the same thing in a more succinct way.

 

I apply the same principle to these weekly tips. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re never more than 150 words.

 

It’s something I help my clients do when it comes to gaining clarity of message in their talks and presentations too. So often less is more.

 

Let me know if you’d like my help with this. Get in touch to arrange a chat.

https://calendly.com/storycoach/30min

 

Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and...

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What were we talking about?

 How often do you find yourself talking to someone and you’re both fully engaged in the conversation, but suddenly someone says ‘what were we talking about?’

 

What probably happened is that one of you interrupted the flow of conversation – and concentration - by introducing another topic or story and you’ve forgotten what the original topic was.

 

This can happen in your business talks too. I call it ‘taking your audience down a rabbit hole’ and it’s to be avoided.

 

It happens when you include a part of your story that’s not relevant to your key message. However fascinating a part it is, if it’s not relevant then it confuses your audience and leaves them wondering what you’re talking about.

 

So when you’re deciding which bits of your story to include, keep asking yourself ‘is it relevant to my key message this time?’ If it’s not, leave it for another time.

 

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A favourite place

Do you have a favourite place? Perhaps more than one?

 

And what on earth does that have to do with promoting your business?

 

By sharing your insights on some of your favourite places and why tells your audience something about you. Do you like the bustle of a city, or a secluded island beach, or is somewhere from your childhood dear to your heart?

 

It doesn’t even need to be a specific location but might be some thing like the bow of a ship in a storm, the quiet and cool of a place of worship or the buzz of a busy market.

 

Just giving your reflections on anywhere does the job and of course at a later date you can write or speak about somewhere else. What does need to be genuine are those reflections because they’re the window to you, the person behind the business persona.

 

‘Your favourite place’ is just one of over 100 prompts you’ll find in my Story Prompt Cards and Story Journal.

To get the other 99 check the cards and...

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Apply the same principles

I was recently asked whether I could help someone craft a speech for an industry-specific audience.

 

Without being an expert in her industry and never having given a speech to that industry, I could, with hand on heart, say ‘Yes I can.’

 

The reason is simple – the principles for addressing any audience are the same.

 

Here are 3 basic questions to ask either yourself or the person who booked you to speak:

  1. What’s the audience’s general level of knowledge and understanding of your topic?
  2. What are their pain points right now and how can you help?
  3. What story/ies can you tell that illustrates all of that and that are most relevant to them?

 

You’re an expert in your own field and they’re there to learn from you. You don’t need to be an expert in their field too.


If you would like more help with this, and with crafting the speech from the outset, just get in touch.

 

https://calendly.com/storycoach/30min

 

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Seize the moment

Have you ever missed an opportunity and regretted it?

 

Mine was bungee jumping.

 

We’d already spent a while at the Kaiwura Bridge, New Zealand, the claimed home of bungee jumping, waiting for my daughter’s turn.

 

‘Oh Mum! you really should do it!’ she said, as she returned, lit up from her experience.

 

In that moment I decided to give it a go. Chances are I may never come back to this spot again and I wouldn’t want to live with the regret of chickening out.


But just then a coach-load of eager jumpers alighted and joined the queue.

 

The wait for my turn was going to be too long. We were on a schedule.

 

If only I’d been brave enough to say ‘yes’ when Hannah did.

 

15 years on, it’s probably not something I would do now but I wish I’d done it then.

 

What moment are you waiting to seize?

 

If it’s anything to do with public speaking or improving your communication...

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How many stories?

A question I’m often asked is ‘How many stories is it OK to include?

 

The answer of course is ‘It depends.’

 

It depends on the message you’re using the stories to convey. Does using more than one add value to your message and to your audience or does it water down the value of the single one you might share?

 

Can a talk be one long story? Again, it depends.

 

Some stories are powerful enough to not really need a narrative. The message or learning is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be spelt out.

 

Others are not and you’ll need to let the audience what you, or the main character learned from their experience within that story.

 

It all comes back to basics. Which stories, or parts of a story do you need to tell this particular audience to convey this particular message?

 

 

 

Need help with that? Let's have a chat.

https://calendly.com/storycoach/30min

 

Rachel Maunder is a communication...

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Mind your language

Have you noticed how different groups and organisations have their in-phrases that everybody uses, that don’t mean much at all to others outside the group?

 

During my time as Cabin Crew, one of our in-questions was ‘Are you going or have you been?’ meaning, are you about to go out on a trip of have you just arrived home.

 

When stopped for speeding on the airport perimeter road by a policeman and asked where I was going, my default reply was ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’ve just been.’

 

‘Now we must be going somewhere, mustn’t we?’ he said, in that semi-amused semi condescending way police officers often have.

 

He clearly didn’t know Air Crew speak.

 

Back on sensible street, the conversation continued and I was allowed on my way with a warning.

 

It’s the same when you’re addressing an audience. Make sure that your phrases and language match theirs. If they’re not in...

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Owning your expertise

Presenting with confidence isn’t just about being a confident presenter. It’s also about owning your own expertise.

 

I recently had a meeting with someone who was looking for a new trainer on a specific area of my expertise and I was keen to impress.

 

I started by thinking about how they might find me lacking. Frantically trying to do last-minute research on the topic, I stopped and took a breath.

 

I stopped to remind myself that I knew this stuff. I’d been doing it for years and training in it for almost as long. That was all I needed to get across.

 

It’s the same for you. When you relax and remind yourself that you know your stuff, some of your anxiety about presenting will go away, leaving you to focus on sharing that expertise.

 

Plan, prepare, practise – and relax.

 

 

 

Why not a book a call with me now to see how I can help?

https://calendly.com/storycoach/30min

 

Rachel Maunder is a communication...

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Creating connections

Within less than a minute of small talk with a prospective client, I learned that she’s game for an adventure such as kayaking, is married to someone she enjoys spending time with and has children.

 

I learnt that because she told me how she’d spent her weekend.

 

As it happens, I’m also someone who’s game for things like kayaking so we’re already resonating with each other at a different level. We created a meaningful connection.

 

And that’s what sharing information about yourself can do.

 

Even if you shy away from sharing stories as such, just letting your audience take a peek into your world tells them something about you, about the things you like to do and about your lifestyle and that’s what can create connection.

 

People like to work with people they relate to and can have that connection with – so how can you take more of yourself to your business?

 

 

 

Why not a book a call with me...

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Is there such thing as a true memory?

One of the things I love about podcasts is that I often hear a phrase that really makes me think.

 

‘There’s no such thing as a true memory’ is one of those lines.

 

We talk about our memories being something that nobody can take away from us.

 

But are those memories true?

 

The speaker explained that because we’re constantly evolving and changing ourselves, however imperceptibly, our view or perception of the memory is slightly changing too so that we recall it differently as we move through life.

 

What then does that say about stories?

 

They too are subject to perception both from the storyteller and the listener, so even though you might see little value in sharing your story, it might be just what someone else needs to hear at that moment in time.

 

Why not a book a call with me now to see how I can help?

https://calendly.com/storycoach/30min

 

Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach and...

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