Tell Your Story Concisely!
Can you tell your story concisely? A popular anecdote about Ernest Hemingway says he made a bet with friends that he could tell a story in only six words.
Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.
Whether Hemingway authored it or it was falsely attributed to him, it is nevertheless a story.
The golden rule of storytelling says, “Stories are always about people.” We don’t know who the sad parents are, but this narrative isn’t about shoes.
A story must have conflict. Someone bought those shoes and ended up disappointed.
The story is incomplete as it lacks transformation. We don’t know if the shoes were ever sold or to whom. We never find out whether they’re ultimately received by a baby who grows up to have some magic connection to the baby who never wore them, but the story captures our attention.
Is our journey any different? Few of us know how our own stories are going to end. The journey in that story is a metaphor for our own. It’s authentic.
While walking from my car to a local restaurant, a poster taped to the wall of a building caught my eye. If the message is as fascinating to you as it is to me and others I’ve shared it with, that’s the power of story.
If we filter out the data—the date, the color, and the contact information—we’re left with a five-word story that one-ups the challenge Hemingway supposedly issued.
Found Bird. Keeps saying “Erika.”
How do we know it’s a story? Stories are always about people and this one’s about Erika. Erika has lost her bird and that’s the conflict. Or we could argue that the story is about the blue bird—a metaphorical person by virtue of its ability to call for its lost owner in English. Stories about aliens and talking animals are still about “people.”
And the conflict is authentic, we’ve all become separated from loved ones and hoped to be reunited. The story inspires questions: Who’s Erika? How long have she and her bird been together? Is the “blue” bird a tiny budgie or a big macaw?
What about your story—the one you share when you’re asked to introduce yourself?
Do you talk about prices, processes, ingredients, and data or do you talk about people?
Do you talk about yourself or about those you help and serve?
Do you address a conflict your prospects will identify with or do you ramble about the functions you perform?
How concisely can you tell a story that communicates your value?
Success Story? Hot Air? You Choose!