When the story is right, people listen

listen closely By twenty_questions on flickrIt been quiet here this week as I’ve been traveling.   I spent the week in Chicago talking to clients and refining the story of what I do.

Its fun to talk to new people…especially when they are receptive to the story you are telling and when that story is authentic.

When the story is real and right, people listen. When the story has holes or isn’t backed up by facts and experience, people tend to stop listening – or worse – never start to listen.

I sat through quite a few meetings this week and it was clear after about 30 seconds that the story that we were telling was interesting.  We were peppered with questions. We were asked about deliverables, schedules and processes.

Contrast that with other meetings where the story isn’t heard.  You spill out your story to blank faces and glazed-over eyes.  You try to connect with the people in the room but nothing works.  You continue talking but never connect. Why? Well…it could be that you suck at storytelling and presentations…or your story sucks.   Or…you are presenting to a room full of mannequins.

How can you know that your story is right?  How will you be sure people will listen?

You can’t be sure…but with practice and refinement, you can get close. Ask for feedback from friends, neighbors, colleagues and clients.   You’ve also got to take the time to make sure that you story is worth telling.

That said, I think most stories have an audience. One of the hardest things to do is find that audience…but once you do, practice the story.  Get the story right and people will  listen.

But…be careful to not take advantage of that audience. Make sure you can deliver on that story. Make sure you don’t change the story in mid-stream either.  There’s nothing worse than believing in a story (or person) and then finding out half-way toward the destination that it was a big fat lie.    Remember…you want to tell a story of truth…not one of fiction.

Once people listen, watch out…because things will start lining up in your favor then. Whether you;re selling SEO services, photography, technology consulting or widgets…get the story right and people will listen.

Image Credit: listen closely By twenty_questions on flickr

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  • benclonts

    Eric,

    Great post! The power of storytelling is vastly under utilized. Have you noticed that when you switch from facts to a story, everyones’ eyes light up and there is a connection? I have switched my format from 80% facts/ 20% story to 80% story/ 20% facts. Also, shorter is better. Impact is higher and rarely do people complain when you give them more time.

    • http://ericbrown.com/ ericbrown

      @benclonts

      Thanks for stopping by Ben and thanks for the comment. I agree with you….the story is key. I’ve always tried to tell stories of some form or another here (and in life). The key for me is getting those stories to be focused, simple and short….which is hard to do sometimes :)

      Thanks again for stopping by!