13 "Best Ways" to Tell Your Story
Karen Dietz teaches business people how to talk.
Well, really, how to present a point. Make a presentation. Tell a story.
The platform for these 13 ideas came from my time with Karen. Teaching
me how to tell a story and make my presentations better.
Here goes with my version of the 13 "Best Ways" to Tell
Karen doesn't talk this point. She knows, like you do, this must happen.
I think it is important enough to make it first.
A great musician was once asked about practice and rehearsals. His response
was pointed; If I miss one day of practice, I know it. If I miss two days
of practice the critics know it. When I miss three days of practice everyone
Mary Wollstonecraff says it this way; "The beginning is always
today." Bingo! Practice - practice - practice is not an option.
It is mandatory for your presentation to be all it can be. A cliche ...
2. Who you are
Up front - not necessarily first - your audience needs to know who you
are. Who are you to be standing there talking, sharing, maybe telling?
So, sometimes your introduction is short. You are with peers, they know
you. A minimal intro is all that is needed. Sometimes your intro is much
longer. You're in an environment where you are odd man out. Hardly anyone
knows you - and you don't know anyone.
Timing is also part of your opening - your introduction. I like to intro
myself. Nothing structured or formal ... rather, work in what needs to
be said when I'm ready. In my voice and with my words. See point #1 about
this - it too requires practice.
3. "Something" happened
This is the exact phrase for story telling ... "Something"
The same concept applies to speeches, keynotes, all day seminars - even
group or office announcements. There must be a reason for your presentation.
"Something" happened. Or, in some instances, something is going
Know what your point is. There is always a prime point ... often there
are several minor or support elements, too. Get your message in order.
Get ready to present. Know what happened.
4. Make a commitment
For the last year, maybe longer, AIG, an insurance organization, has
run a television and print campaign with this slogan;
"Your biggest risk is NOT taking one!"
The same thought applies to your presentation. Your dress, your stance,
your action, your support materials and of course your words must all
"look" like you believe. It is inconceivable anyone will follow
your lead unless you give the appearance of complete confidence.
Make a commitment.
5. Appreciative Listening
This is a new phrase for me. Karen taught me.
Oh sure, I've studied listening. And have some strong feelings we should
teach how to listen at the same time we're teaching reading and writing.
Unfortunately, we "assume" you learn to listen when you learn
to speak. Not so.
What does "Appreciative Listening" mean to the speaker? It
means you reverse your position and put yourself in the audience. What
are they hearing? What is their level of understanding? i.e., you think
like your marketplace. You listen from their side of the platform.
It's tough - and yet, something that will make your words meaningful.
And much more likely to be acted upon. Listen with appreciation.
6. "Take Action" Stories
"A man who works with his hands is a laborer;
A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman;
A man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart
is an artist."
This thought is directly tied to story telling. Yet, I feel it applies
equally to every presentation. As, what is in your heart will come through
in your expression, your words, your feeling and emotion.
Stories, examples, case histories - they are all ways to make a point.
Include them as part of your message. Stories help you make your point
- and to be believed.
7. Barriers to the commitment - personal
"Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every
Good thought from Ms. Dickinson. Because most barriers are "man-made".
Vs. an "act of God". Meaning, people put hurdles up - and we
let them hold us back. Stop us.
Often these friends and family are well meaning. They frequently don't
understand our direction, our purpose, our goals and objectives. So, don't
let this happen. Open every door.
8. Barriers to the commitment - business
As we're preparing to present, our "history" and business knowledge
can be a hindrance, rather than a help. We know what's worked in the past,
we know what did not. We have experience, and we apply it.
On the surface this all looks and sounds great. Sometimes it is not ...
especially if we've allowed ourselves to be put in a box. When you've
got a new thought, a different idea, an unusual concept - the last thing
you need is a set of "rules" to follow. You need an open forum,
and an audience, each with an open mind.
Use what you know to your advantage. Still ... don't let it get in the
way of a different way to reach your objective.
9. adApt or adOpt
Years ago I "discovered" the word "adapt"
sometimes worked better when it was changed to "adopt".
A single letter change - and a completely different meaning to the word.
Sometimes it can be best to just do what you know needs to be done -
and do it your way. Not adapting. In other cases it's better to be flexible
- and adopt. Changing your approach to one more readily accepted by your
There is no right way or best way. Your way or no way doesn't work either.
Ask should I adOpt this concept ... or should I adApt?
"The only way to have a life is to commit to it
What a wonderful quote! I like this thought, as it supports my theory
that nobody knows too much. We only know what we know - frequently we
don't have any idea what we don't know. We can always learn more.
Learning happens many different ways. From friends and family. In school,
on the job, in "real" life. Reading, observing and listening,
too. So, commit to it like crazy ... and continue to learn.
And then share your learning with others. That's what presenting is all
I feel strongly about this thought; "There are no failures, only
lessons." No idea where this quote came from - firmly believe it
Yet, stories, cases, examples that share an idea that did not make it
make you believable. So, be willing to share a "failure", too.
My personal direction is based on this thought;
"It's not 'what if' ... it is 'what's next'."
This is the approach I take to commitment.
12. Successes ... and now what's different?
When you have lessons from failures, you can turn them into successes.
And then, obviously, share your successes. They become your story, your
Equally important is to share what's different about your success. What's
different about you, your company, your product, your service, this "new"
way of doing ... whatever fits, share what's different.
It might be "how" you will be different. Or "where".
Or "when". Being "different" is important. Often you
get listened to only because you present a difference. Share successes
- and be different.
13. Celebration ... and Commitment
Success is a good thing. Celebration is an appropriate reaction. Joy
and happiness are a natural response.
So do it.
And then further your commitment by living this most meaningful thought
from Mahatma Gandhi;
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to
A thank you again to Karen Dietz - who gave me the direction for this
Baker's Dozen - 13 "Best Ways" to Tell Your Story.