Archive for Story Telling

Storytelling Amanda Palmer TED

Are You a Good Storyteller for Your Business?

Do you tell stories to your customers or give them a one-two sales punch right from the start? Are you a carnival barker or a Martin Luther King whose “I Have a Dream” story on the mount of the Lincoln Memorial sold millions on the morality of civil rights?

Amanda Palmer used the power of storytelling on Kickstarter to raise $1.2 million to produce her music album. As HubSpot recounted in a post on storytelling, the singer-songwriter dressed herself a kimono and, flipping handmade signs, explained she was a musician, who had parted ways with her record label because they told her the cost of her next album would be a whopping $500,000.

But she and her partners couldn’t finish producing the record on their own. She needed people’s help to get it off the ground. Read More→

Blogging is Story Telling in Disguise

A Story

A few months back I was telling a story to my parents. It is one I have told many times, and my father especially enjoys it. A good friend of mine, who is nicknamed “Gretel,” was an avid community supporter and always attended the town council meetings. Lisbon, Iowa, is a small community of several thousand. He never missed a meeting.  That is until one day he had a work conflict and there wasn’t any way he could change his schedule.

Brian Meeks

The next day, when walking through town, people kept congratulating him.  He didn’t know what for. Nobody would tell him either. The people of Lisbon did enjoy seeing his confused look. It took him half the day, but eventually he discovered that there had been a discussion, the mayor had resigned, and by the end of the meeting, he had been elected Mayor, mostly because he wasn’t there to stop it.

My Dad always chuckles at this story and I enjoy telling it. But I had told it so many times, I wasn’t sure if all my facts were straight, or if I had made most of it up. So I called ‘Gretel’ and told him that I had been telling a story, of which he was the principal subject, but I couldn’t remember if it was true. So I told him the story, just as I had told it, and he laughed.

“Sadly, that is an accurate account. I served my one term, was done, and now know better than to miss a meeting.”

We both laughed.

Why I Love Stories

A blog post is a story in disguise

I tell this story because it popped into my head when reading a friend’s blog.  I really enjoy telling a story.  I am not sure when I started to become a story teller, probably back in the mid-80’s when I got to know a group of friends who were all great story tellers, Gretel being one of the best.

Samuel L. Clemens, or as some would better know him, Mark Twain, told a great story.  In fact, a 64-page handwritten manuscript of his just sold for $242,500, at auction.  J.K. Rowling knows how to weave a tale.  I know that when her books came out, I stood in line to get my copy and then spent the whole next day reading until I was done.  (The last book took two days)

Stories have value and have been told throughout history.  It is how we pass on pearls of wisdom.  Stories can teach, they are able to persuade, and, if done well, they can motivate and uplift.  If one names a human emotion, one can find a story which brings it out in each of us.

This is why I have found blogging to be such fun.  I get to tell a story, every day, and there are no limits to what one can do, when crafting a tale.  In one of my favorite blog pieces, entitled, My Days as a Ninja, not only did I travel back in time, but, when I was there, I had a Bosch circular saw.  I am not above anachronisms in my writing, in fact, I thrive on them.

Earlier today I read a post which talked about blogging and how it can be difficult to think of material.  I have to admit that in the 187 blog pieces (both my own and as a guest blogger), I have had a case of writer’s block.  When I say “a case,” I truly mean singular.  In nearly six months of writing nearly 900 words per day, I have only been stumped once, and it was more a case of being in a foul mood than being out of ideas.  I ended up writing something anyway.  I think it might have been a piece about how stumped I was, but I can’t remember, and I am way too lazy to go back and find it.  The point is I got through it.

And I guess that is the point of this blog post.  If you blog, and who doesn’t anymore, then don’t worry about what to write about, just try to think of a story you would like to share.  If you were sitting in a pub, with a glass of port and an attractive someone, what might you say to keep her engaged?

We all have stories.  They are buried deep in us, waiting for that trigger which causes them to bubble to the surface.  If the flirty lass in the pub mentioned sports, it would remind me of a story, if she said she liked animals, then I would tell a tale of “Harley the Cat,” if she wanted to talk about how cute she thought I was, then I would let her continue.

If you feel like you are getting stumped, then let your imagination take over.  Picture yourself somewhere else and doing something you enjoy with people you feel comfortable with.  Are you talking about politics?  Maybe a discussion about wine has started?  If you do this, I am sure the old light bulb will turn on. Whatever the topic, I bet you have a story, and then you will have your next blog piece.

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I write a blog at  Extremely Average.  Mostly I write about my adventures in woodworking, but on occasion I delve into photography, social media, or just go crazy and write some fiction.  Obviously I have trouble focusing.  I make my living managing customer relations and social media for Preferred Vendor, in the HR and Recruiting industry.  So basically, I do this all day long, every day.  I love it.  I am thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog piece on Jeannette’s blog.

On a personal note, I like tennis, golf, woodworking, blogging, thinking about woodworking while I golf and then writing about it in my blog.  I also like cheese and think that

How Obama’s Story Telling May Shift the Conversation on Health Care

The debate on health care has reached a fever pitch with both sides — those for and against it – dug in for the fight.  Until now, President Obama, the most cerebral of presidents, has used the logic of his argument to try to communicate to the American people the details of his health plan.  But it hasn’t been working.

So, in a town-hall-style meeting in Colorado over the weekend, he reverted to the oldest form of communication on earth – story telling.  As my friend and fellow blogger Annie Hart in says in her blog Stories Change the World, “Storytelling is the oldest, most powerful form of communication on the planet. Stories create powerful images that inspire us to think and act in new ways. By harnessing the power of story, you hold the power of creation in your hands.”

In his entreaties to the crowd, the President talked about his own grandmother to push back against unsubstantiated claims that his plan would deny care to elderly parents.  “I just lost my grandmother last year.  I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love who’s aging deteriorate, and have to struggle with that.”  He vigorously denied that the notion that members of congress who have to vote on health care legislation would pull the plug on the elderly.

Story telling appeals to our emotions.  And Obama made a direct appeal to the emotions of his listeners – could anyone believe the government would deny care to grannie?

That’s what reporters want to hear – stories with a middle, beginning and end.  As writing becomes more informal, a direct result of the internet, even news stories look more and more like feature stories.  The old shibboleth of starting a news story with the traditional “who, what, where when and why” has given way to stories that begin “American military women have changed the way the U.S. goes to war and they have done so without the disruption of discipline and unit cohesion that some feared.” (NY Times). This is the beginning of a story, and you want to hear more.

Or, “Khalid Khan’s small construction firm (in Afghanistan) was supposed to build a road here that would open his strife-scarred land to commerce and improve its prospects for peace. Instead he wound up in the hands of the Taliban, hanging upside down.” (WSJ).  You definitely want to know what happened to him.

Have you noticed when you are watching local TV, a reporter covering an accident will begin an interview with the question, “What happened?”  Then a bystander will tell the story, “I was sitting on my stoop when all of a sudden I heard a loud crash. I looked over and saw two cars.  They were a wreck.  I ran to the scene of the accident and with help from other people I tried desperately to pull the passengers from the cars before there was an explosion, but I couldn’t get them out.  I was never so scared in my life.”   Here is a neat little story with a beginning: the crash.  A middle:  he ran to scene but couldn’t get them out.  An ending: he was scared to death.

So, the next time you are trying to get a response from a friend, or a customer, try telling a story.  Involve them.  Tug at their emotions.  It often works as you engage your friend in a story that you both create.