Want to tell your story and make real connections? Learn the secret…
What’s the big secret? … The story is not about you!
How can your story possibly not be about you? You’re the one who lived through the events, right? Sure you did. However, once you turn what happened into a story, it becomes about your audience – not you.
This is often the hardest thing for a teller of personal stories or memoirs to wrap their head around. It is also the most crucial thing. Let’s unpack it…
When you tell a story, you’re giving away a gift. Think about the times you have chosen a physical gift for someone else: you considered what sort of gift would be right for that person, yes? You took into account their interests and tastes rather than your own.
But have you ever made the mistake of buying a gift for someone based on what you would like to receive? Remember that blank expression that crossed their face when they unwrapped it, before they managed to hide it behind a smile? Right then, you knew that the gift you thought was so lovely was going to vanish into a drawer, never again to see the light of day.
That doesn’t mean the object itself was awful. It just wasn’t a good gift.
Telling your story is the same. You have to take into account your audience’s interests.
What are my audience interested in then?
Here’s the bitter pill you’ll have to swallow. Ready? Your audience is interested in themselves. Your nearest and dearest are more interested in you than a lot of people are, sure. However, even the most indulgent of parents/spouses/children will get fed up after the first few chapters of being told what to think about every person, place and situation in your story. They probably just won’t say it to your face because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.
On the other hand, I would rather tell you the truth so that you don’t waste weeks, months or potentially years putting together something that falls on deaf ears.
Does that mean my story has no value?
No. No it doesn’t mean that.
Every story has value. That is true whether your story is about raising your children, rowing across the Atlantic, teaching pupils to read, or the journey to becoming a millionaire.
So how do I tell my story so that other people will be interested?
A story that holds other people’s interest is one which allows them to imagine that the story is about them. They need to ‘live’ the story for themselves along with you – either looking over your shoulder or actually being you, especially when the tension of the story reaches its height.
They need to see, hear, feel and smell the experiences. Your job as the storyteller is to park your ego and allow them to do that. Allow them to make the story their own.
In other words, you have to learn to let the story go. Give it away. That might feel scary. It might feel unfair. After all, you’re the one who lived it.
Here’s the best bit, though…
However much you give your story away, you’ll get it back many-fold. By giving the story away, and letting your audience make it their own, you’ll receive so much more.
Decide what it is you want to receive. Sales, respect, the knowledge that you’ve helped others by sharing your story… Then know that the way to receive it is to give the gift of your story.