“I think stories are extremely important…I’ve made a good living with (them) for decades.”—Dan Kennedy
Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Dan Kennedy to get some of his best material out of him as part of a very special event—celebrating Dan’s 40th Anniversary in Info-Marketing.
(If you’d like to be a part of this spectacular evening—and listen in on the stories, see the “Best of Dan” video, and all the other fun stuff, you can be a join in this historic occasion from anywhere in the world by registering to attend online FREE. Get the details and register here.)
As I was preparing for this, one word really stuck out… the word “story.”
Much of the evening will be made up of stories… from hearing the inspiring, amazing and often amusing true stories from authors, speakers and master info-marketers about how Dan helped them birth, launch and skyrocket their business to hearing Dan’s stories about lessons learned, insights gains and even some that reveal a few of his most embarrassing moments.
Stories can be compelling and powerful and it seems we are wired to respond to a good story. In fact, a lot of great marketing is built around skillful storytelling.
Dan once wrote, “Every really persuasive, influential speaker I’ve ever been around has been a masterful storyteller.”
Maybe that’s why he’s worked so hard to learn how to take a basic, simple event and build it into a useful, detail-rich, entertaining story. Working to get better at storytelling is something that will serve you well too.
While preparing for Dan’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, I learned that Dan has been putting together a story bank over the years that now stands around 100 strong. Plus he has a bank of jokes that he pulls from –some more frequently—which have also helped him make a good living over these many years.
You may even have some “Dan stories” that come to mind…such as his “Annoying Pest, Welcomed Guest story” or about the “Cat that licked stamps.” If you are familiar with these stories, you likely can even remember the points the stories made just by those references.
Here are five reasons why you should work to improve your storytelling:
1) Stories create camaraderie. (Tweet this!) If you tell a story about your life—be it about having kids, getting divorced, struggling in business, playing golf, etc.… creates a bond with your audience when you talk about something that resonates with them.
2) Stories can inspire people to take action. Tell a story about overcoming an obstacle, challenge… the hardest thing in your life…about something greater than you…people coming together for a common purpose – and you will inspire people to take action.
3) Stories teach in a memorable way. I can give a presentation with charts, facts and figures or send a sales letter filled with bullet points, but if my presentation or sales letter tells a story, you are more likely to remember the story than a figure or bullet point.
4) Stories allow you to interpret things. A good story won’t explain everything, but instead lead the reader or listener to ask questions, form ideas, and create a launching pad for new ways of thinking.
5) Stories can help you position yourself or pitch a new idea, product or service. Relaying an experience or painting a favorable picture through story can cause people to transfer that picture to your product , service or idea. For example, a very successful sales letter sent out by the Wall Street Journal used a story lead about two people who start their careers with equal prospects and opportunities. But 25 years later one is very successful and the other is not. The story goes on to tell the strategy that made the difference—positioning The Wall Street Journal as the reason for the success. To give you an idea of how powerful this technique can be, this particular story lead continually made more money over any other letter sent out by The Wall Street Journal for 28 years and generated 2 Billion dollars in revenue.
So how do you get better? Here are some techniques you can use:
Read good stories. Don’t just read non-fiction stories, but include good fiction on your reading list to understand good story structure.
Keep it simple. Don’t make your story too complicated or include too much information.
Concentrate on mastering the opening and closing. Use your strongest material at the beginning and at the end as this is often what the reader or listener retains the best. (Remember that sometimes your strongest material might mean starting your story in the middle, instead of at the beginning. )
Pay attention to the details. Look for relevant, pertinent details to include in your story.
Beware of tangents. If you find a section of your story that strays from your original topic, cut it. Wandering off topic will distract your audience and cause you to lose their attention.
Create stories that stem from the truth. The best stories come from a true story and are more believable. While I do know that some great storytellers use some creative licensing and exaggerate some, a story that is closer to the truth will be more believable and effective.
Storytelling is just one way of communicating your message, but when you get good at it, you likely will always have an audience.
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