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Storytelling, a core career and life strength, is the art and science of influencing others through skillful communication and personal brand; not just telling great stories, but being a great story.
 
And everyone loves a great story.

Why Storytelling?

 
Stories are part of what makes us human, and we’ve been telling and re-telling stories as long as we’ve had language. They have the ability to hook us in, connect with us emotionally, and inspire us.
 

Furthermore, stories are “sticky,” remaining in our minds and easy to share socially. And the best stories create links with our lives; pictures, emotions and voices in our heads. We feel the storyteller is speaking to us in particular.

Here’s some of the most important skills to develop as a storyteller:
  • Creating and delivering a good opening “hook” that grabs people’s fleeting attention right away
  • Providing just enough context to set up the key messages you want people to walk away with
  • Showing vs. telling, using “sticky” word imagery, details, and intonation to draw people into the story
  • Sharing how you took a risk and what you learned
  • Creating anticipation or suspense early in the story
  • Providing a few (just a few) tips that people can use right away
  • Using humor, body language, and audience engagement wisely and sensitively

For some examples of storytelling in action, check out this series of posts called “Storytelling Night.”

 
As implied in my definition of storytelling, I truly believe this strength goes beyond “telling stories,” through common formats (oral, presentations, visual, written, TED Talk, etc.), to include the reality of each of us being stories…being, even more specifically, brands that tell a story.
 
“Brand” is a long-established marketing term referring to what a company, product, or service is “known for.” This knowing can be cognitive, emotional, and even subconscious, as this article implies. Since each of us is known for something, whether we like it or not, we are “storytelling brands.”
 
What’s your storytelling brand, and what do you want it to be?
 

Stories With Data

Something to keep in mind: In many settings where you’re trying to influence others to make decisions or evaluate your work, telling effective stories while using data is especially important. Results matter, and it’s important to be able to speak to them both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Here’s three sites that will help you get stronger at this particular dimension of storytelling:

 
Our Common Challenge
 
Our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world is distracted, and this situation worsens every minute as more information and choices become available. The executives, managers, and peers we’re presenting to in conference rooms are distracted, glancing at their phones every few minutes and daydreaming, because they’re stressed and overwhelmed.
 
The best storytellers will gain two gifts that are both precious and fleeting: other people’s attention and permission to tell the stories in the first place. Never take these two gifts for granted, and give thoughtful consideration to how you will earn and re-earn them.
 

Next Steps to Consider

I help individuals and organizations enhance personal and business relationships and results through:

  1. Mindful Content (Books, Blogs, and Resources)
  2. Mindful Executive or Life Coaching 

What do I mean by “mindful?”

Mindfulness is my core organizing and unifying practice for every moment and dimension of life–including self-care, family, friends, community, and professional work. It also fuels and informs my advocacy for anti-racism, feminism, and climate stewardship.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is the continuous observation of moment by moment internal and external experiences, without judgement, focused on the body, feelings, mind states, and the impermanent, selfless nature of all created phenomena.

The ultimate goal of mindfulness is awakening to one’s true nature of pure awareness and happiness, and being liberated from the dissatisfaction found in craving, aversion, and delusion. Some of the most common mindfulness practices include breathing meditation, mindful eating, mindful walking, reciting mantras, and doing a “body scan,” but there are many more.

I’ll admit that mindfulness is tough to do without ongoing practice. Most of us are facing similar pain points that were already significant before the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing awareness of the United States’ history and present reality of systemic racism: nonstop change, accelerating economic and technological disruption, accelerating climate change, and the collective “noise” of information overload that grows louder each day.

The impact of all of this, for so many of us, has been confusion, distraction, and stress.

Mindfulness can be your game-changer and world-changer. There’s more research (such as this Forbes article) on the benefits of mindfulness than you or I can ever hope to read, but here’s the highlights of why mindfulness is worth doing:

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Increased productivity
  • Healthier relationships
  • Increased happiness and inner peace

I bring extensive cross-industry experience, education, and credentials to these services I offer. To inquire about my background and services, sign up for a free exploratory coaching session, or subscribe to free monthly content, please contact me here. You can also visit my LinkedIn profile and check out this post on my career journey.

Thanks and take good care,

John

 
John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.