Here is How You Tell It
Today I went to a charity event in Dallas. Now typically how these things go are like this: lots of beautiful women, beautifully dressed, buying beautiful things, on behalf of a charity. All good, right? A bit surface level, but if at the end of the day we are helping a worthwhile cause I am all for it. Today though I went deep, my heart hurt a bit. Why? Well – I typically don’t ask women what they do at these events, because many of them work inside the home and thus they seem to feel awkward when I ask that question. To me, you are not what you do for a living but I can understand the sentiment. So I ask the question, tell me your story? This is more interesting regardless. I love stories. We as humans are fascinated by them, we get pulled into campfires, books, movies, conversations, due to our thirst for an intriguing story.
After all we’ve each been on earth for decades, we all have some type of story, don’t we? I asked this question to a woman at the party and her response was, “I don’t have a story.” I was a bit dumbfounded. Of course you do. We all have a story. It begins at birth, sometimes the thread goes further back even before, and hopefully if we’ve made an impact, it continues after we are no longer here to tell it ourselves. So how could someone not have a story? Maybe the question is, why do we not know how to answer this question? It is the oldest form of communication our words, our stories. So how do we tell our stories in a better way? Whether it is our story at a cocktail party, our company’s story, or our story to snare the hot dude/chick.
Knowing how to speak with conviction and eloquence, slowly drawing in your listener like a spider winding in its web, is a singular power. You literally ensnare people. Haven’t you felt that pull before? When the person you are speaking to grabs your heart by the strings and reels you in to them. I’ve felt it. It’s what moves humans to achieve extraordinary things or terrifying things. The greatest among us know how to grasp you tightly with their words. I started to ponder, how do you tell a compelling story? Here is my story… on how to tell your story.
1) Be good, be brief, be gone
Have you ever been cornered at a party with long winded Larry? You know him. He loves to talk about his kid’s soccer game or even better, his golf match where he par’d 9 because he used the iron instead of the wedge or whatever the f*ck golfers say. Seriously you want to lose my interest immediately, start re-telling me about your round. Unless your Tiger Woods and the round ends with your wife chasing you with a 9 iron. I. DO. NOT. CARE. Ok but here is the point. Be aware of the human you are speaking to. See if they seem interested and watch for body language. Then try to leave them with a little something. Don’t give them the whole story, snare them along. That is what it means to be good, be brief and be GONE.
2) Words Are Like Paint - There Are Infinite Colors So Mix It Up
Let me give you an example. When you meet someone there are hundreds of ways to express your happiness at crossing paths:
- “So happy to meet you.” (BLAH)
- “What a pleasure to sit here with you today.”
- “I am just tickled to get to shake your hand in person today.” (Try not to smile while saying that one)
- “Absolutely enchanted to know you.”
- “My friend, how lovely to meet you.”
In Spanish we say Encantado/a, it means absolutely enchanted. Everything in the Spanish language is meant to bring you close. To love on you a little bit through words, platonically. Think about your words in that way. Consider it a mind game. Instead of starting a presentation with, “My name is Codie Sanchez Baker, thank you for having me today.” Don’t be cheesy, be you, but have fun with it.
- “My friends, what a pleasure looking out at all your beautiful faces this morning.”
- “Hello all you good looking humans, can I just tell you how excited I am to share this day with you.” Wink Wink.
Your challenge today: Try to introduce yourself to someone in 3 or 4 ways that you never usually would or open up your next meeting in a way that would surprise the rest of your team. See them snap out of their normal route. I dare ya.
3) You Are A Person: So Be Personal
I’m in finance, do you even want to know the number of Powerpoint’s I’ve seen in my day? It would astound you. It horrifies me. I’ve seen more pivot charts then Brady’s seen snaps (ooooohhhh football reference, I’m feeling it today!). The thing is people don’t remember what you’ve told them, they remember how you made them feel. Even when we talking money, baby. So weave in your humanity. Even when talking about finance or investments we can talk like this:
“Close your eyes, picture the day you retire, the day you get to take that trip around the country you’ve been planning, the day Europe beckons, the day you never have to put on a tie again. Picture yourself signing on the dotted line for that beach house, your grandkids playing along the beach while you sit in your chair watching the sun go down with a big smile on your face. Waves lapping in the background. That is what happens when you save. Decisions made today to invest, plan and create goals that you stick to means a tomorrow you’ve dreamed about.”
Think they’ll remember that instead of saying,
“If you invest and start saving now we are confident we can maximize your risk/return profile to reach retirement On average our clients receive x return over time due to compounding and downside protection. We aspire to align your risks to your needs, in order to achieve your family’s goals for retirement and life planning.” Dear lord, did you fall asleep too? Remember you are a person, get personal.
4) Catch Them Up Front
Whether it is your opening line, your headline, or your punchline, get a line with some KICK. Here’s an example….
Which headline is better (these are both real BTW):
A. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in October
B. Watch Out: Prices Are Creeping Back Up Again
B, right? It makes them want to open the article. That word creeping has a negative connotation, like a little creepy crawly insect sneaking up on you. You want to know how close it is? When you say CPI, you sound smart but uninteresting. That is often our biggest problem we want to project our intellect and we end up sounding like a robot.
Moral of the story – don’t be a damn robot. You are a human. You have a story. You are interesting. So share it.