A “Good” Bad Girl – What Ameera is doing right!

Ameera Chowdhury tells a great story that reveals there is more to her than her good girl, unassuming appearance might indicate.   Please listen to the story first, then see if some of her techniques might work well for you, too.

“I know what you are thinking”

In the first seven seconds Ameera describes having “delinquent taste in music.” It immediately adds depth to her good girl looks. It also creates curiosity to some hidden secret. People can’t help but judge a book by it’s cover, so if your audience has a one dimensional and therefore inaccurate picture of who you are, why not let them in on a secret that makes them curious again.

Props

Ameera doesn’t just tell us about the card she received from Iggy Pop, she shows us. The legitimacy of bringing the real thing enhances our ability to visualize in a microsecond the envelope as it first appeared, where she might have been, how long it took before she began “freaking out” and what she did next. Highly engaging.

Dialogue

There is a vast difference between saying something like “he had a strange message on his answering machine,” and reciting with a sneering Iggy-ish voice: “This is that thing you throw peanuts at. Take a shot, sucka.” Using first person dialogue makes your story feel more realistic to your listeners.

Just for fun, watch it again and notice the listener’s face in the lower left corner.

Please add your own comments below, which of the six stories this might be, what you like about Ameera’s story, what her story tells you about her, or how this story might work in an organizational setting.

 

The Story Factor – “How to” Series

Sam Thurman’s story is short (5 minutes) and delightful. Please listen to it before reading my comments so you can have the full listener experience.

Imagery and Present Tense

One of the things I really like about this story is that Sam uses present tense from his first sentence: “I am in Tokyo, Japan.” Suddenly, we are too. Thirty seconds later we are in a mosh pit at the Fuji Rock Festival listening to a Jamaican Punk hardcore band the “Bad Brains.”

Authenticity

“I’m timid.” Stories need contrast and Sam’s level of authenticity invites trust. Don’t be afraid to reveal personality traits that you fear might be misinterpreted. This is the nature of bringing humanity back into your communication. It is oh so human to have flaws.

Metaphors and Similes

Sam uses some wonderful metaphors, but my favorite (I wear glasses) was “the crippled corpse of my glasses.” There are others if you pay attention, “carried like driftwood” and “like a human ladder.”

If you were Sam, how would you use this story in business? Which of the six stories might this story be? Please comment on other successful storytelling techniques you admire (and may want to use) in Sam’s story.

Exercise in Empathy

owpUSw2SnI-3000x3000Anna Deavere Smith is a wonderful actor who “performs” stories by taking on the personality of the original teller. She brings people from Studs Terkel’s collections back to life and takes her audiences on a tour .  Here she is pitching a workshop on Empathy but this little clip reminded me how to really pay attention and I thought it might be a good reminder for you as well.  She points out, “There is someone else going on when you are really paying attention.” [Read more…]

Sinking Ship

The guy on the right drew this map.  He is bailing out the boat that is sinking.  He is doing his job in spite of a bad situation.  I asked, “Who is the guy on the left?”  He said “That’s my boss.”  A few heads turned toward his boss sitting up front.  I asked “So what is he doing?” He answered, “He’s pissing in the boat and not doing much else.”  There were guffaws from his cronies and the rest of us couldn’t resist smiling.  [Read more…]

Metaphor Maps

Using Art to Create A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths

When you walk into a room and see people leaning back with crossed arms, responding to words like “teamwork” with rolling eyes and cynical smiles, or worse, staring into space with blank faces of apathy, it is hard to expect you will accomplish much.  Yet, you risk — if you ask about “the problem”— potentially hours devoted to a vitriolic bitch session that can demoralize the few previously happy people and intensify the cynicism of the unhappy ones. [Read more…]

The Big Secret

o_i-ve-got-a-secret-50-s-game-show-ca441 . Nothing works 100% of the time. A machine can have a motor replaced but a sales manager can’t have a personality transplant. Maybe a new story about who he is and why customers need him will mean he sells more, but maybe it won’t.  Successes of 70% or higher are good. Expect more and you kill good ideas as heartlessly as killing imperfect children.

2 . Tiny details can deliver great power and huge gestures can mean nothing. One plus one doesn’t equal two anymore.

3 . Since the situation, emotional state, and time context are unpredictable the outcome is always unpredictable. [Read more…]

Four Ways to Find Your Story

In t4storieshe beginning, finding good stories is difficult. If only because your brain keeps saying, “I can’t tell stories.” or “I’m not a storyteller.” Trust me; if you are breathing you tell stories. The problem is that on a bad day, our stories are about being stressed out (who I am) barely surviving stupid decisions (why I’m here) and counting the days until we can retire (vision). We blame politicians for self interest (values-in-action), repeat stories that prove there is nothing we can do to change things (teaching) because we’ve already tried and failed (I know what you are thinking). Okay…it’s not that bad (I hope) but you will have to work a little harder to find good stories. There are four reliable buckets that are full of good stories. [Read more…]

Exercise in Empathy

Anna Deavere Smith is a wonderful actor who “performs” stories by taking on the personality of the original teller. She brings people from Studs Terkel’s collections back to life and takes her audiences on a tour .  Here she is pitching a workshop on Empathy but this little clip reminded me how to really pay attention and I thought it might be a good reminder for you as well.  She points out, “There is someone else going on when you are really paying attention.” [Read more…]

Episode #17 – Capturing Wisdom with Storyteling

madelyn-blair-essays-in-2-voices-3

Madelyn Blair’s company name Pelerei represents two root words that mean “lifting people up.”  She made up the name as a hidden reminder of who she is and why she is here.  Learn more about Madelyn’s books: Riding the Current and Essays in Two Voices.

In Essays in Two Voices Madelyn offers a simple process for two people to better understand an issue with by examining an issue together by sending short essay responses back and forth.  We have so little time for pure inquiry, this process occurs when you have time for it, minimizes hidden agendas and gives permission to think a bit deeper and take some risks. [Read more…]

The art of seeing the story…

popup1Joe Dager of Business 901 and I begin by talking about the similarities between storytelling and art in this podcast.

I promise to send out a new Story Factor Podcast soon. I’ve been writing and editing the second edition of Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins and there is so much I want to add! [Read more…]