January 2014

Volume 3, Issue #1
In This Issue
Is There a POINT to This Story?
About Lynne Franklin Wordsmith

Quick Links  


Be Strategic with Stories
Choice Words

"oont kis karwat baitha hai"
[UNT kiss kah-vat bye-tha HYE]
 This Urdu proverb literally means "Let us see which way the camel sits." In desert sandstorms, clever camels face away from the wind to avoid getting sand in their eyes.
 As a storyteller, you need to know which way the wind is blowing, so you can create a story that appeals to your audience while meeting your goals. 

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In the Next Issue ...

Learn Three More Types of Stories You Can Tell to give your audience something of value and share your ideas.


If you're reading this, it's because you already believe in the power of storytelling. Or maybe because you bought the neuroscience I shared last month about its ability to "synch" your listeners' brains to yours and make you more persuasive. If you're like me, now that you know this, your predilection might be to start telling more stories.


But here's the important point. We shouldn't tell stories just so people will like us, and think we're funny, brave, smart, etc. Our stories really ought to have a goal -- because that should drive the kind of tales we tell, and why. Here's more on that.

Is There a POINT to This Story?

Annette Simmons, in her book Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, lays out six different types of stories. Here's my digest of the first three -- in a short story format.


"Who I Am" Story

Goal: You want to break down preconceived notions or judgments about you and your motivations.


Use:  You do this by revealing a flaw or mistake you made, to make you more human and approachable.


Example: An author's audience thinks she's there to sell more books. She tells a story about how her social worker father wanted her to become a lawyer so she could help people and be her own boss. Instead, she moves to Australia. This shows she didn't come from a privileged background (is like her audience), and that she can make foolish choices (this is an extreme way to get out of law school!).


"Why I'm Here" Story

Goal: You wish to replace suspicion and give people a reason to trust you by showing you don't have a hidden agenda.


Use: You show that you're a good person and want to work with others to achieve a common goal.


Example: A new school board member is appointed to a committee that evaluates a head teacher. At a meeting, this director challenges the teacher on whether she has met her objectives for the year. After the meeting ends, the director approaches the teacher and says, "I'm sure you realize that my challenges are not personal. I think you're doing great work. But my duty as a board member is to make sure the education budget is spent wisely, so I must ensure that bonuses are only paid when they should be." In an ideal world, the teacher says she understands and is grateful for a rigorous exchange.


"Teaching" Story

Goal: You want to demonstrate an idea in a memorable way.


Use: You make a lesson clear and help people remember why they are doing something.


Example: For centuries, the fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" has taught children not to call for help unless they need it -- otherwise people won't believe them and come to their aid.


Myths About Story

These approaches help debunk some popular myths about stories.

  1. They don't need to be magical or transcendent. Stories need to be true, relevant and sincere.
  2. Anecdotes and jokes aren't the same as stories. Stories have an arc -- a beginning, middle and end -- as well as characters, pacing, gestures and a purpose.
  3. Storytelling isn't bragging or dumping on listeners about your struggles. Stories invite them to feel more comfortable with you and move forward with sharing their needs (rather than being impressed with or feeling sorry for you).
  4. You shouldn't memorize a story and tell it the same way every time. Stories should be tailored to reflect the audience.
  5. There isn't one universal story you can trot out for every occasion. Stories need to be strategic and fit a particular situation.

During the next month, look for opportunities to use these kinds of stories effectively. In the February issue, I'll share the other three types -- to help you expand your repertoire.  

About Wordsmith
Our mission is to create meaningful corporate and marketing communications experiences that help clients solve their problems and get what they want. That often comes in one of these forms: 

1) Group Workshops, Keynote Addresses and Speeches on fun and practical ways to improve business communication
2) Leadership Communications Training on message development and presentation for executives 
3) Executive Ghostwriting for people who need more hours in their week
4) An Outsourced Corporate Communications Department for those without a full-time need 
5) Special Situations communication plans -- such as crisis communications, mergers & acquisitions, facilities openings and closing
6) Working with Understaffed Communication and Marketing Teams at Fortune 500 companies

Lynne Franklin Wordsmith

2019 Glenview Road

Glenview, Illinois 60025





Do you have a corporate, marketing or financial/investor communication challenge or project? Spend up to an hour with Lynne -- on the phone or in person.  She promises to give you some ideas and tactics you can use right away. The two of you can determine if she's the right solution to help beyond this -- and if not, she will do her best to find someone who is. 
To schedule this, contact her at 847-729-5716 or