Sharing a story outperforms delivering a message


Do you meet people at events and wonder "so what's their story?" You might even ask. What you expect in return is not a fairy tale. It's not a presentation. It's an account of what matters to them and why it matters.

"What's your story?" is how we say: "We see you have an emotional investment in something here. What matters to you and why?"

Do you know how to answer the question. You can just tell people: "I'm here because this matters to me because. . ."  You might even say out loud "this matters to me and I think it should matter to you, too." But you might not. Because we want to be invested but we also want to be cool. We want to be passionate, but we also want to be inoffensive. It's hard to tell your story without caring about what the other person is thinking.

That's the brilliance of telling a story instead of giving a speech. If you answer the question (real or implied) with a story about how you came to care about something, you're likely to get heads nodding and you're likely to create an impression that lasts. Because by giving a real story when someone wants to know "what's your story" you can help them experience what matters to you in a way that builds connection before it requires commitment. One person's story does not negate or argue with another person's story: they just have different stories.

So when you're at an event where people will look at you and want to know, "What's her story?" start the way stories start. Begin with a situation where what you wanted wasn't clear. Allow people to connect with the search, and sometimes they will connect with where the search led you. At the very least, you'll be able to show them your path and walk it with them for awhile. 

Your story won't be for everyone. But when you start with uncertainty (where we all start), you can build understanding one step at a time.

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