Once upon a time… The power of your story.

I’ve been to many conferences and talks and I’d love to able to tell you about them (assuming you had the time) but I simply can’t because I can’t  remember them. The ones I can remember are the speakers that used a story to draw me in and capture me, engaging with my emotions and my soul. I’m sure you can think of similar situations?

We all have stories and are part of a story and what I want to demonstrate in this article is the importance of your story and how / why you should be using it.

The story of story, or at least its decline.

Writing was invented roughly around 3000bc. Before that storytelling was the only way to remember and retell important information and teachings and to pass them on through the generations, either verbally or pictorially. Of course the art of story telling didn’t literally stop there it carried on and indeed in some cultures is still a much utilised form of communicating events.

As paper and scribe developed information could be stored without having to be remembered and later retold. The printing press came along and then later the computer allowing more and more information to be stored and the need to retell it in order to teach has lessened and lessened.

The question is has the basic human need for emotive engagement lessened any? Of course the answer to that is no. So what is the end result of all this information? Information overload, our brains are stuffed full of information, messages upon messages most of them meaningless.

No longer do we need sales patter to tell us stuff or a man behind a podium listing off facts we’ve heard it a 1000 times before. If we haven’t heard it before then we are confidently sure that a quick google search will turn it up so we sub consciously think we don’t need to listen and the end result is we simply switch off.

Facts cannot speak for themselves. Facts are dependent upon context. Context is everything – Anette Simmons

(Re)Discovering the narrative.

Narrative – noun – a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.

The yearning to be engaged stirs deep in our soul and the moment we hear an interesting story we’re glued to it and we take it with us and in some cases remember it for the rest of our lives.  How many stories do you have that you heard from years ago and still remember and yet I bet you can’t remember most if not any of the facts you learnt yesterday?

Story can take many forms, it doesn’t need to be words and it doesn’t need to be long. Photography and video can tell extremely powerful stories, often gut wrenching and tearful without saying a single word. A picture paints a 1000 words the old adage goes.

We all have a story we’re all part of stories and our story collides with countless other people’s stories as we go about our every day business. It’s amazing to thing that those people that cross our path are desperate to hear great stories to top up their soul.

In Mark Miller’s book ‘Experiential Storytelling’ he says this:

“Storytelling is powerful because it has the ability to touch human beings at the most personal level. While facts are viewed from the lens of a microscope, stories address us on every level”

Give them what they want – become the story teller.

Granted the role of the story teller might seem daunting but these days you can tell your story in written form via your website or on a bio across various social media platforms. If you’re a speaker then you can shorten it for introductions to talks or wrap your talk around your story.

You need to sit down and carefully think what is your story. If you’re self employed or a business owner then I’m 100% sure you have an amazing story to tell about your business with all its highs and lows of the the journey to get you to where you are today. If you think your story is boring then I’d be happy to prove otherwise.

So get thinking and get writing and get telling. People want to hear your story so go and tell them. Content is no longer king, context is. Your story could be your most powerful underused marketing tool.

Truth was naked and cold and had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened people. When Parable found her, Truth was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the villager’s doors and was readily welcomed into the people’s houses. They invited to her to eat at their table and warm herself by the fire. – Jewish teaching story.

I’d love to hear your comments on this and help out with any questions about your story, please do leave them below.


I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

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  1. “Context is everything” what a brilliant reminder Gary. If anyone doubts it, here is a story:)
    He slapped her.
    “What a brute”
    No, you don’t understand. He slapped her because she was hysterical.
    “Oh, so he’s a hero then?”
    No, you don’t understand. She was hysterical because she discovered he was having an affair.
    “So he’s a real bastard?”
    No, you don’t understand. He only pretended to have an affair to make her jealous because he thought she didn’t love him anymore.
    “So he really loves her?”

  2. John Wilson Smith

    I like Ann’s contribution. To which I would add (and this gleaned from a highly entertaining seminar I attended in 1978 (!):
    It’s important to remember that if you are trying to get across a concept – which could be a single word – your audience doesn’t head off along myriad false trails. In other words, be specific. If I say to you “cheese” I may have Dolcelatte in mind. You may immediately think Stilton, and your next-door neighbour thing mousetrap Cheddar. If it’s Dolcelatte, say so!


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