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Got the Story? Tell It!

It’s one thing to have a good story. Delivering it live or is the difficult part. I find storytelling is all in the specifics. Here’s an example of what I mean:

A client of ours had this short line in her 2 minute story: “We teach children financial literacy.” When I asked the client for an example of what that meant, she said, “We show them exactly how much they can save if they buy a large bag of potato chips at the grocery store and bring a small baggie of chips to school each day instead of buying the single serving packages in the cafeteria.”

I told her that her explanation to me was what he should be saying (even though it was longer). When an audience hears your story, especially for the first time, they don’t have the necessary context and color that you, the storyteller, has. If all the audience has is the words coming out of your mouth, you have to be sure to add details to make the listener care enough to engage with you.

Recently, I was talking with a man whose story had started when he was a teenager and then jumped to when he was in his thirties. His transition sentence between the two eras was five words: “When I was thirty-seven…” When you read these words in print, they seem enough to understand the span of time, but in spoken form it’s too quick a transition.

I made a simple suggestion: take a breath when you’re done talking about your teen years. Just a moment of silence really to signal the end of one chapter of life (teens) and beginning of a new one (adulthood). And then say, “It’s twenty years later. I was thirty-seven.”

By just adding 2 seconds of quiet and then 3 more words, he will help his audience make a jump of 20 years with him.

As Mark Twain once said, “The right word may be effective,” but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

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