Walking along the beach in glorious sunshine I chatted to a family having a picnic lunch.
‘What better way to spend Mother’s Day!’ the father exclaimed. The mother didn’t look so convinced.
It seemed he’d already been trying to persuade her to his way of thinking and there was a bit of an atmosphere.
Maybe she’d had her sights set on a different scenario – a luxury lunch served at a table-clothed table, with a glass of fizz to hand.
It made me reflect on how often we might find ourselves living someone else’s story and/or trying to persuade someone else to live the story we’ve written for them.
‘You don’t really want to….’.
‘If I was you I would…’
No right or wrong here but sometimes it’s important to note when you’re living your own story and when you’re not – and when or how you can change that.
Why not a...
Working with juvenile offenders and exploring the young people’s offending behaviour, we were discussing the impact on people when their home gets burgled.
’How do you think it feels to discover that someone’s come into your home and made a mess?’ I asked.
Jamie spoke up and became upset.
‘I would never make a mess! That’s someone’s home!’
On exploring this, in his world it was OK to take possessions (in this case TV, stereo, etc.) - because after all they’re covered by insurance – but it was crossing the line to make a mess.
I was intrigued – and learnt a lesson.
Snippets of conversations can be useful to:
When a conversation intrigues you, note it down. You never know when it will be...
Driving home recently from an outdoor party, I noticed as I was getting near to my home town that the road was wet – very wet, with puddles at the sides.
‘I wonder what’s happened here?’ I thought. ‘Perhaps there’s been a burst waterpipe.’
It was only when I realised that the roads were very wet for the final 2- 3 miles home that it dawned on me that there must have been a local downpour.
I laughed at myself for not thinking of that in the first place. I live in England after all!
But no rain had been forecast, it had stayed dry for the party and we hadn’t had rain in a few weeks so it wasn’t my first thought.
That made me think about how our experience shapes our viewpoint and perception and why it’s important to hear from people with different experiences and different perceptions.
Which is why it’s important to share your stories.
Why not a book a call with me...
As I was hanging washing out recently for the first time this year, I reflected on the joy I get from recognising those small seasonal milestones.
Whether it’s cosying up with the heating on for the first time in the autumn, to the first time I see a daffodil flowering I love the signs of change.
What about you? What are your first and last milestones?
What about other firsts and lasts? That you tried a new skill, that you achieved something you’d found challenging or the first time you visited a new place?
Sharing your firsts and lasts is yet another way of letting your audience into your world and when they can identify with those experiences, however insignificant – like hanging out washing – it helps them to connect with you.
So what are your firsts and lasts? Start making a list so that you’re never stuck for an idea.
For more ideas on stories, download my free pdf 7 Simple Story Prompts
It was a glorious sunny day.
I took my coat off walking along the beach - and it was still only January. I LOVE to walk without a coat. I can’t tell you how that lifted my spirits and filled with me with joy, freedom and anticipation of more days like that to come.
What are the little things that give you joy? How can you include those into your speaking and story?
They might just be vignettes rather than stories, but when the image they conjure for your audience resonates with them, they’ll recognise that at some level you’re kindred spirits, bringing them one step closer.
When they see you as a kindred spirit they’ll know you’re much more likely to understand them and your challenges - and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in someone you do business with?
What can you tell your audience about you to bring them one step closer?
Need help to explore this further? Get in touch to arrange a call
I’m frequently asked questions about what kind of language should speakers use, should they temper their regional accents and which stories they should include in presentations.
The list could go on: What specific content, which key point to highlight, whether to use humour and if so, what kind of humour?
The answer is simple and always the same: it depends on who’s in the audience.
How familiar are they already with your topic? What’s their demographic? What are the similarities among them that bring them together for event?
What will appeal to them and what won’t? Are you out to impress or to shock? What do you want them to do as a result of your presentation?
Asking these questions and adapting your presentation accordingly will help you engage with your audience much more effectively, which in turn makes it more likely that they will buy your products or services.
We hear a lot about Show and Tell but how often do we stop to listen and watch?
When you listen and watch what’s happening in the world around you, you open yourself up to whole new set of stories.
What are people doing and saying?
How are they responding to each other and interacting?
What’s the story that’s unfolding before you?
What happens next and how does it end?
Taking the time to be an observer in life also sets you on the path to being a great storyteller.
When you tell a story based on your own observations, it gives you the opportunity to add your own take on what you saw and heard, giving your audience an opportunity to learn more about you as a person.
So do take time to Listen and Watch, and just like in Show and Tell, share what you’ve heard and seen.
Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker coach and professional speaker.
She has been in the world of competent communication, in different guises, for more than 30 years...
What risks have you taken?
Whether you’ve taken a risk in your career or business, with your own safety, or in any other way, you will definitely have taken risks.
What were the consequences?
Whether they turned out well or not, there’s a still a story to tell for every risk you’ve taken.
And when you tell a story, you inspire someone somewhere.
Did you just leap into the unknown or were there long deliberations?
What lessons were learned and what’s your message for others around taking similar risks?
Start making a list of all the risks you remember taking. Talk to family, friends and colleagues for their input and keep adding to the list.
Then start building the stories.
The risks you take and how you deal with the outcome tells your audience something about you.
So what are your risk stories and where can you use them?
Rachel Maunder is a...
There was no real reason to turn down the offer of a temporary job as a butcher’s delivery person.
Aged 18 with no income, and not much happening in my life at the time, the wackiness of the whole idea somehow appealed.
But I HATED it!
No Satnavs to help me find where I was supposed to go, no mobile phones to connect. Parking outside the shop on the busy street to collect the next round of orders was even harder.
The guys in the butchers thought it was hilarious. What was a GIRL doing, doing the deliveries anyway?
But I had people I couldn’t let down, so I stuck with it for the agreed time.
It’s a story I can use as an example of being up for a challenge, tenacity, loyalty, etc.
What are the forgotten stories from your background that you can use in your talks?
Rachel Maunder is a communication skills and speaker...
However organised or disorganised you are, I’m guessing you see some value of having a designated place for everything: towels in a cupboard, books on the bookshelf, cutlery in the cutlery drawer.
Easier to find and easier to put away.
How hard could that be without those designated spaces? It’s the same when it comes to sharing your expertise through speaking.
Our brains like to store things, to file them away, so that when we learn something new about a familiar topic, it knows where to store it. If it’s a new topic, our brain needs to create a new storage container.
When you use a simple structure for your talk you’re helping your audience to use appropriate containers to classify what they learn from you. Without that structure, what are the chances of them retaining or retrieving the important parts when they’re scattered among everything else going on in their brain?