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Great Stories Are Simple

Great stories are simple

In episode #439 of Negotiations Ninja, Mark Carpenter shared how storytelling makes leadership more credible and increases the all-important “know, like, and trust” factor.

But how do you get better at telling stories? What do great stories look like? Let’s start with the basics.

What do great stories include?

Great stories consist of three main elements:

  1. Introduction: You have to introduce the situation and share what you’re trying to accomplish.
  2. Conflict: What got in the way of what you were trying to accomplish?
  3. Change: What helped you overcome—or not overcome—the challenge, and what did you learn from it?

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be relatable. Because if your listeners can’t relate to your story, they’ll tune out.

Simplify your storytelling

How do you help your listener connect? Make your story realistic. It doesn’t have to be an epic tale. Everyday experience is what people relate to the best. Engagement happens with simplicity. The intention of the story is to make a point. We get too caught up in creating a great tale. It’s about the lesson you’re trying to convey. What can your listener learn from your experience?

How to turn an experience into a story

Look for an example in your life where you had an emotional reaction to something. There’s usually a lesson embedded. What did you learn from it? What could others learn from it? Create an introduction, conflict, and outcome. How can you combine them to show the point you’re trying to make?

Mark was driving down the freeway toward the airport when he looked in his rearview mirror, and a cop was following him. Every time he changed a lange, the cop followed him. He was convinced that he was going to get pulled over and got agitated. But when he exited to go to the airport, the cop continued on. He’d let his thoughts spiral out of control. He worked himself up over nothing.

The moral of the story? You have to be careful where you let your thoughts go because you’ll create problems for yourself. People can relate to the moment, and they remember the lesson.

Mark heard a story from someone who had an employee that made a $10,000 mistake. The employee was terrified and wouldn’t answer questions, saying, “Well, aren’t you going to fire me?” The boss said, “Why would I fire you? I just made a $10,000 investment in your education.”

How to get comfortable telling stories

The only way you get better at anything is by practicing. Practice the story with someone else. Record yourself telling the story. Listen back to it and make sure it makes your point. It’s easier to tell stories that are an example from your life because you lived it. You don’t have to memorize it. What can people learn from your real-life experiences?

Learn more in episode #439 of Negotiations Ninja!