The Secret to Creating Great Stories
How do you create interesting, compelling, emotional stories where do you get the brilliant insights? The creative impulses to do that. Now I am going to shock some of you. With my response to that question. Do not do it. I do not even try doing it. The best source of stories, as I mentioned a couple of videos ago, for most people in most situations is, just your own life. What actually happened to you. Conversations you had with real customer’s client’s colleagues. Let’s go deeper into that.
The problem with trying to create, this interesting, creative next version of frozen or the odyssey is, that it is really hard work and you probably are not a professional writer and creative writer. The other problem with that is when it is not something you have actually experienced. If you are trying to tell that story, you now are becoming an actor. You are trying to memorize a script. Guess what that is really hard. Meryl Streep had to go to graduate school at Yale to be as good as she is. I do not know about you. I do not have time to go to two or three years of graduate school to become a great actor just to tell stories in business presentations. So my advice is takes the easy way out. Take the shortcut. Take the lazy man, the lazy woman’s technique and that is. Do not create new stories from whole cloth instead recycle your own stories based on what actually happens in your life. Yes, you can retell other people’s stories occasionally if it makes a point but the best source of stories for you most of the time will be simply telling people what happened to you, in interesting situations where you help someone else solve a problem.
My Very First Presentation
I will never forget the first time I was asked to give a presentation, to give a speech. It was 1975 I was about to graduate from elementary school. I was at Bruns Avenue Elementary in the inner city of Charlotte North Carolina. My teacher came up to me one-day sort of pulled me by the sleeve and said “Hey TJ I will make a deal with you. Right now you have got good grades in every subject except for handwriting. I will give you an A in handwriting if you give the welcoming speech at graduation to parents, teachers, and students now.”
That time, I was an incredibly shy kid. I was someone who rarely talked in class. Basically never put my hand up. I had no natural aptitude whatsoever for publics. I had to no idea why she asked me to do this. But I figured. I would kind of like to have an A in handwriting. How hard could it be. So I said “Okay I will do it and I told Mrs. Troop okay I will do that speech.
So I went home wrote, and rewrote a couple of things, stood up I think I actually read the speech (Fellow, students, parents, teachers at Bruns Avenue Elementary. Thank you for coming to this graduation ceremony.) Then I sat down. It was pretty much that brief that uninteresting. But you know what I got through it the world did not open up swallow me. Nothing bad happened.
In fact, something good happened I got an A on my handwriting on the report card. Now I do not know if that is a good thing what the teacher did but it taught me an important lesson. An early age if you are just willing to stand up and speak good things will happen to you the fact that I was nervous scared, uncomfortable. It did not really matter I still got the good things afterwards. So that is the lesson I learned.
Okay so why did I tell that story? Why do I tell that story in speeches? Because I want people to know I am not some natural-born speaker. I mean we have all seen some kindergartners are just Mr. Pizzazz miss pizzazz. They are really out go. I was not like that. I want people that I teach on how to give presentations and speeches, and how to speak to the media to know I was not a natural. You do not have to be a natural. Everyone can start off uncomfortable even shy. It does not matter these are skills people can learn and you can learn at any age.
Now they especially try to stress this from time to time. Because some people will look at my videos or see me speak. They just naturally assume I am just so confident and relaxed and smooth. I cannot even relate to someone being nervous or uncomfortable and truth be told. This sounds little arrogant to say it. I apologize I am really not nervous when I speak these days. I have not been for decades I am more nervous when I do not get to speak in a certain day or a certain week. So that can make me seem out of touch with some of my clients who are uncomfortable. That is why I tell this story. That is really the message you are not born being a great speaker. It is a learned skill and most people are naturally nervous and uncomfortable about speaking.