Whether I’m writing freelance articles or crafting copy for a website, I essentially spend my professional life telling other people’s story. Never my own. And that suits me just fine.
So you’d be forgiven for wondering why I spent one Friday this February at the moSpeaker Academy BIG Day – which promises participants that they’ll “come away with a more powerful story and new tools to help you accelerate your success and performance in a multitude of ways…whether your focus is motivational speaking, keynoting, speak-to-sell, informational speaking and training – or changing the world.”
While the event may not seem like an obvious fit for a non-fiction writer, I promised myself to make more time for professional development this year. I also recognize that as a solopreneur I am required to ‘tell and sell’ my own story each time I meet a prospective client – and that I sometimes sell myself short.
So off I went, intrigued to learn more about a speakers’ approach to storytelling and hoping to pick up a few new skills in the public speaking department.
Here’s what I learned.
According to momondays founder Michel Neray (who interestingly comes from an advertising copywriting background), any spoken presentation should contain at least one ‘signature story’ – something personal that will stick with your audience.
He says an effective signature story must have:
Intention – Why are you telling this particular story? How does it link to your primary topic?
Structure – A cohesive beginning, middle and end that will take your audience on a journey and drive home your message.
Authentic Delivery – Do you have stage presence? Are your voice and movements natural and aligned with what you are saying? Can you ‘go with the flow’ and respond to audience reactions?
Intention. Structure. Delivery. Sounds like the ingredients to any well-written copy!
Then Neray asked everyone to complete a ‘Truth Map’ to identify the challenges we help clients solve.
We brainstormed outward – taking problems like “losing clients due to unprofessional or non-existent web presence” to their most far-reaching conclusion (possible bankruptcy, family upheaval, depression)…..wow…I never realised my words could make such a difference!
This was followed by Paula Morand’s presentation on story structure and timeless plots. You can read more about the seven basic plots here.
Regardless of the underlying structure, Morand said storytellers should ask themselves: What is the moral of this story? What issue is being solved? What is in it for my listener – and how can I make my story engaging?
All good points to keep in mind for a writer.
The day ended with a session on Stage Presence – and this is where I squirmed in my seat.
As an interviewer, I’m used to being (more or less) in control of the conversation, asking the questions, and doing the observing.
I’m not used to having other people scrutinize my body language, facial expressions, and verbal cues. But I took a deep breath, participated in the group exercises, and came away with a new appreciation of how how I say what I say can affect how my message is received.
Something to keep in mind for my next client meeting!
So what’s the moral of this story?
Acknowledge your weaknesses and look for opportunities to improve. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Change is uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to move forward.