How to Tell a Good Story

Today is Thursday, so this post is on dynamic communication.

Last Thursday, I did a post on how to become a dynamic story teller.  I described the four step process for creating and telling good stories that I have developed. 

  1. Identify one, two or three things you “know to be true” about the topic of your story.  If you can’t do this, you probably don’t know enough about the topic to be speaking about it in the first place.
  2. Think of the life experiences that have led you to this knowledge.
  3. Use these life experiences to create stories that make your point.
  4. Create a generalizable point that people can take away from your story and apply in their lives.

I promised that I would share an example of how I use this four step process to create and tell good stories.  Before I begin, I’d like to mention that it helps if you are observant, and pay attention to what’s going on the world around you.  Having said this, it’s on to the example.

Step 1

One of the things that I “know to be true” about relationship building is that assumptions can kill conversations and relationships.

Step 2

I know this from a variety of experiences, but one in particular stands out.  Rob Likoff, my friend is a basketball fan.  He lives in New York, so he is a Knicks fan – something a little tough to be these days.  He is such a fan that he has a Knicks vanity license plate.  It has the Knicks’ logo in the middle surrounded by these letters: “SLM DNK.”  If you’re a basketball fan – or even if you aren’t, you are likely to know that SLM DNK stands for “Slam Dunk.”  It’s a safe assumption, right?  Wrong!

One day, Rob was taking a client to lunch.  As they approached his car, she asked “Have you met a lot of women with your license plate?”  Rob was somewhat taken aback, so he asked, “Why do you ask?”  She said, “Because of what it says.” 

Now Rob was pretty confused.  Remember, his assumption was that everybody knew the licenses plate stood for “Slam Dunk.”  So, he asked her, “What do you think it says?”  She responded, “Simple – Single Ladies Man, Divorced No Kids.”

This story proves my point about how assumptions can kill conversations and relationships before they begin.  Rob was pretty sure that everyone who saw his license plate would get its message.  He was reminded that this is not the case.

The woman in question was in her mid thirties.  She is unmarried, but would like to be married and have a family.  She had mentioned on previous occasions that she was worried that her biological clock was ticking. 

When you look at it from her perspective, it makes sense that she would confuse “Slam Dunk” with “Single Ladies Man, Divorced No Kids.”

Step 3

You can probably imagine how easy it is to tell an interesting and compelling story about assumptions based on Rob’s experience with his client.

Step 4

However, as entertaining as the story is, whenever I tell it I always make the generalizeable point that it is a vivid example of how one should never make assumptions about what another person knows or thinks.  Because, as the story illustrates, assumptions are often wrong.  And, incorrect assumptions are conversation and relationship killers.

I hope this example both entertained and enlightened you.  That’s what good stories should do.

Just like last Thursday, the common sense point here is simple.  All dynamic communicators are good story tellers.  Good stories put a human face on your points and they are uniquely yours.  There are four keys to creating good stories: 1) Identify one, two or three things you “know to be true” about the topic of your story.  2) Think of the life experiences that have led you to this knowledge.  3) Use these life experiences to create stories that make your point.  4) Create a generalizable point that people can take away from your story and apply in their lives.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Bud   

PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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