February 2014

Volume 3, Issue #2
In This Issue
Is Your Story WORTH Sticking To?
About Lynne Franklin Wordsmith

Quick Links  


Know the What and How of Telling Stories

Choice Words

"fora do pinico, mijar"
[FOR-rah doh pin-EE-coh, mee-JAHR]
 In Portuguese, this literally means "to pee outside the pisspot." The English translation is "to miss the mark."
 This is what happens to us as storytellers, when we don't have a clear goal for sharing a tale, or a focus on what our audience needs to hear.  

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In the Next Issue ...

Learn How Business Leaders Screw Themselves Over Every Day and what you can do to avoid this.


Here's the thing about stories: we want to make them all about us. "This is how I helped my client." "This is the difference our not-for-profit makes." "This is how our company gives back to the community."


Frankly, no one cares.


Stories need to be about the people hearing or reading them. It's what I say about websites. "No one comes to your website to learn about you. They come to see themselves. They have a problem. And if they see you have already solved it for someone else, that reduces their perceived risk in working with you."


Do the same with your stories, and you'll be amazed how captivating you become!


Is Your Story WORTH Sticking To?

Here are the final three of the six types of stories that Annette Simmons shares in her book Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins. (Last month you saw the first three: conta.cc/1dmMSw9 http://fb.me/1f938S9vQ). 

Vision Stories

Goal: To inspire hope

Use: You stimulate action and raise morale by reminding people why they are working together

Example: A professional whose mission is global cooperation to save the planet from ecological disaster was at an airport. Her plane was delayed for the third time. Rather than taking her frustration out on the airline staff, she used the importance of helping others work collaboratively to calm her frustration.


Values in Action Stories

Goal: To explain what a value really means


Use: You clarify an intangible (such as integrity) in a working relationship or situation


Example: An optical chain values customer service. Its advertising campaign offered to replace glasses with a new style if customers didn't like their frames when they got home. This increased the cost of the transaction. A store manager told his staff about a customer who -- apologetically -- took advantage of the offer. This person remained loyal to the store for years and also recommended it to family and friends. This small loss on one transaction bought the store many profitable purchases.


"I Know What You're Thinking" Stories

Goal: To show respect for others' viewpoints while sharing your own


Use: You recognize objections and then show why they don't apply


Example: A saleswoman in children's shoe store convinces a mom to buy a pair of premium-priced shoes. She does this by explaining that if her child doesn't find his new shoes comfortable after a week, the mom can bring them back for an exchange or refund. This is the case even though the shoes would be worn and couldn't be resold. The saleswoman backs this up by telling about one customer who did that just last week, although she was the only customer whose child hadn't loved the shoes.


Now What?

I was lucky enough to create a retreat on storytelling for a regional law firm. After showing how this could make all of them better rainmakers, each practice group created a story to share with prospects and current clients. This process worked for them:


Step #1: Think about why you want to tell a story. Here are three good examples: 1) build rapport with a potential/new/current client, 2) illustrate a core belief to differentiate yourself and your company, 3) "break the ice" at a networking event and lead to a deeper conversation.


Step #2: Consider your audience. The first tip centers on you. But don't linger too long there and risk boring or alienating the people. Become a "method actor" and put yourself in their place by answering WIFFT: what's in it for them?


Step #3: Determine the best type of story to meet Steps #1 and #2. You now have six: 1) who I am, 2) why I'm here, 3) teaching, 4) vision, 5) values in action, and 6) I know what you're thinking.


Step #4: Brainstorm stories that fit. You can do this with others (good ideas are energizing and contagious!) or on your own. If you do the latter, consider using freewriting: getting a pen and paper, setting a timer for five minutes, and writing every story idea you can think of -- non-stop and without grammar/punctuation/sentences. Go back and pick the best ones.


Step #5: Outline your story. The easiest way to do this is to think about it in three scenes: 1) what was the issue/conflict, 2) what was the action taken, and 3) what was the result.


Step #6: Add local color. Details help listeners picture a story as you're telling it -- and make it more memorable. Think about the characters (including you) and settings involved. Flesh out your story by adding these.


Step #7: Practice with purpose. Pay attention to these factors and get feedback on them: 1) pace (speed of delivery), 2) voice quality and tone, 3) body language and hand gestures, 4) eye contact, and 5) story delivery (descriptions, use of emotional context, progression of beginning/middle/end, final context).


When you take a strategic approach to story, you become a person worth listening to -- which will help you better reach your goals.


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