“Tell your personal stories,” they said.
I cringe, mortified. What’s so interesting about my personal stories that people will want to hear them? I think to myself. I’m more of a behind the scenes person, used to listening to other people’s stories, not telling my own. It’s an ingrained habit. I grew up in a family where everyone and everything else came first. As I result, I listen well and am good at figuring out solutions for others, but that doesn’t help me now with telling my story.
Since I’m a little shy about sharing, I’m going to ease into telling you my stories and instead show you how to make your stories amazing people connectors that will connect first, then sell your products and services.
People Like Stories But Hate Being Sold
I can relate to this one. I hate being sold a product, BUT if you tell me a good story, I’ll listen. People connect with emotion before they do logic. So, when you evoke emotion through your storytelling, people hear and join because they understand the feelings. Selling makes us feel slimy, like when the stereotypical used car salesman tries to sell us a broken down car.
Teach Without Teaching
Do you remember growing up with parables, those cute little stories that tell a story while leading up to a not so always obvious life lesson? Make your stories do the same. When you start “lecturing,” unless people have a good incentive to listen (like they paid you to teach them), they will shut down and tune you out. Instead of giving a lesson, just tell your story in a way that allows the person to draw his or her own conclusions, reaching that “A-ha” moment for themselves.
Tell Stories About Your Hardships and Struggles
Have you ever noticed how most of us dislike someone who’s “never” had to struggle for anything in their life? Nope, we almost always pick the underdog! Logically, of course, everyone experiences hardship, but logic doesn’t apply to feelings.
When you tell stories about your hardships, struggles, and mistakes, you become human, not just an expert someone has elevated to “god” status. They realize you’ve lived similar situations and “won.” As a result, you can use your stories to inspire hope and dreams that they can do the same.
Don’t be a Fraud, Tell the Truth
Just the other day, someone in one of my Facebook groups asked about telling truthful or made up stories when marketing. She wanted to know why you wouldn’t just make up a story so you could connect with more people.
You can make up a story. But here’s why that’s not a good idea. First off, you’re lying, and liars usually get caught. Building someone’s trust is essential for lasting relationships. The second easier to evoke emotion in stories that you know whether it’s your own or someone else’s that you experienced with them. So, unless you are a fiction writer, tell your stories truthfully if you genuinely want to connect and build lasting, trusting relationships.
Add a Sprinkling of Drama
We live in a society that thrives on drama, just look at reality tv shows. If you want someone to pay attention to your story, make it dramatic (not overdramatic; just a sprinkle), and they will listen. Let me show you the difference between a story with drama and one without:
Story #1. My sister and I got into a fight.
Story #2. My sister refused to get up off my bed. We started yelling, and after she called me a bitch, I slapped her and knocked a tooth out.
Which story made you pay attention? I bet it was Story #2. Both are the same story; just the second one has drama. It’s a real story. I did slap my sister during a fight when we were young and knocked out her tooth. It wasn’t a permanent tooth (and it was already loose), but I’ll still never forget how horrible I
felt feel about doing that too her. It’s a dramatic story, and I’m sure those of you with siblings are either thinking or talking about sibling fight stories right now, which means my little sprinkle of drama worked.
Use Your Stories to Destroy Misconceptions
While we would like to think the stories in our heads are based on truth, fact, and logic, it’s rare they are. Instead, they are tainted with our emotions, experiences, faulty memories, and just plain bad or wrong information.
For example, last week, sitting in the dentist office, the hygienist asked me “don’t you feel unsafe traveling overseas?” It’s a common misconception that anywhere outside the US is dangerous because the media and government bombard us with fear campaigns. I was quick to reassure her that I used to think the same thing, until living outside the US and learning otherwise, so I understood her concerns. And because I approached her with understanding and stories of my travels, I was able to begin breaking down her misconceptions and paint a different picture for her. Now she’s considering taking her dream trip to Italy.
When you break down beliefs and show people a different way, they begin to transform and change. But you have to do it in a way that you don’t get their resistance up. So you tell stories. These stories show how the myths, disbelief, and misconceptions are wrong. And you keep breaking down those disbeliefs until there’s no more resistance.
Get your stories right, and people will follow you off a cliff. It’s the reason cults work so well. When people can see themselves in your stories, they have a reason to believe in you (and your products). And because when you tell your stories right, you trigger emotions and gain trust, both of which sell products. Which is why you don’t need to sell your product; instead, just tell a good story.