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Archive for August 2012

Storytelling Tip: Treat Us Like We’re Six Years Old

 

Storytelling Tip: Treat Us Like We’re Six Years Old
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Treat Us Like We're Six Years OldWant to tell your story so it has maximum impact? Then treat us like we’re six years old when telling it.

I’m not suggesting you talk down to your audience. Kids are smart. And they want all of your attention, not some of it, when they’re talking with you.

So, here’s what I mean when I say talk to us like we’re six years old:

  • Give us your full attention. Have you ever tried talking to a six-year-old while trying to do something else? Forget it. It’s no different with your audience. If you’re multitasking while talking to me in person or even on the phone, I’m going to pick up on that at some level. And I won’t like it. You want my full attention for your story? Then give me your full attention while telling it.
  • Be clear. You have to be clear when talking to a six-year-old. Start throwing in all that extra “stuff” we tend to include when telling our stories and a six-year-old will tune you out. You know what? So do the rest of us. Be clear. And stick to your point. Save the “stuff” for another time. Or lose it altogether.
  • Use concrete examples. Six-year-olds typically aren’t interested in abstract ideas. They want concrete examples. Concrete examples are easier to understand and remember than abstract ideas. Your story may involve talking about ideas. But include examples to help the rest of us understand and remember what you’re saying.
  • Be honest. Kids know when you’re not being straight with them. They’ll either call you on it or tune you out. And they’ll be less likely to believe you next time. Your audience isn’t any different. We may not call you on it. Adults are less likely to do that than kids. But we will tune you out and learn not to trust you.
  • Be prepared for questions. Kids ask a lot of questions. Your audience will have questions, too. Welcome the questions. And give us honest answers.

Treat us like we’re six years old when telling your story. Are you up to the challenge of doing that?

That’s my two cents’ worth.  What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Don’t Let Facts Get in the Way

 

Storytelling Tip: Don’t Let Facts Get in the Way
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Don't Let Facts Get in the WayOne of the first lessons I learned as a journalist was never to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

It’s a lesson you should keep in mind when telling your story, too. In fact, it’s a rule every good storyteller knows. And follows.

It’s not about playing fast and loose with the truth.  Far from it.  Being honest with your audience is important.  It’s about knowing what to include when you tell your story — and, equally important, what to leave out.

A good story is interesting and memorable.  It has a message.  And it has a narrative — a beginning, middle and end designed to get your audience to pay attention long enough to hear what you have to say and understand and remember your message once they’ve heard it.

What should go into your story?  You need to answer several other questions to answer that one:  Why are you telling your story?  What do you want to happen as a result of telling it?  That’s your objective.  Who’s your audience?  What will they want to know?  What do you want them to know?  If you want them to do something, how do you motivate them to do it?

Once you know the answers to those questions, craft a message — make it short enough to remember — that will tell your audience what you want them to know or persuade them to do what you want them to do.  Then build the rest of your story around that.

Humans have been telling stories to communicate with one another since prehistoric times.  We all know a good story when we hear one.  So, why do so many of us have trouble telling our story?  The two main reasons are too much information and being too self-serving in what we say.

A good story has enough information to be credible and tell us what we want to know without being so bogged down in facts that we miss your message and forget what you said.

People often pile so many facts into their stories that they forget to tell the story.  They let the facts get in the way of the story.  Include enough facts to make your story credible and to give your audience the information they really need.  But don’t get so bogged down in facts that your story feels like nothing more than a compilation of facts.

Make your story interesting or, better yet, useful to the rest of us.  But skip the purely self-serving stuff.  You’re the only one who cares about that.

That’s my two cents’ worth.  What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Beating Writer’s Block

 

Storytelling Tip: Beating Writer’s Block
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Beating Writer's BockStuck! Anyone who does even a little writing eventually comes up against writer’s block.

If you write a lot, it may be a problem you face a lot. As the late journalist and playwright Gene Fowler put it: “Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

So there you are: Beads of blood on your forehead and you’re still stuck. Now what?

Start by listening to that little voice in your head that will tell you why you’re stuck. Not the one called Rationalization. The one called Honesty. With yourself.

What you do next depends on what the Honest Voice tells you. For example:

You’re not ready to write

Symptom: You know what you want to write about but you can’t get started because you don’t know the answers to the who, what, where, when and why of your story.

Solution: Quit writing and do more research.

Symptom: You’ve done your research and still aren’t ready to write.

Solution: You may just need to let things settle for a bit. Go do something else and come back to your writing when you’re rested or in a better frame of mind.

I do my best writing early the day. Sometimes I’m just too tired to write. And that means it’s time to step away from the keyboard. Because, when I’m too tired, staring at a blank screen won’t do any good.

You don’t know what to write about

Symptom: Your deadline’s approaching and you don’t have any idea what to write about. A frequent problem for people who write a lot, particularly when there’s a deadline — for a weekly blog or monthly newsletter, for example. Or that big presentation you’re making next week.

Solution: Long-time reporters and columnists are always looking for their next story. Follow their example. If you regularly contribute to a blog, for example, keep an eye out for future topics. I regularly save links to news stories or other things I come across that might make good topics for my blogs. Questions from clients are another source of topics. If a client is struggling with an issue then chances are that others are, too. That makes it worth writing about.

Another thing to consider: Is your deadline self-imposed? Can you bend it or ignore it without anyone else noticing or caring? If so, consider giving yourself a little more time. Not always possible. But sometimes worth considering when you have the option. Just don’t do it all the time or you’ll quit writing. It’s like skipping a trip to the gym. Once in a while is okay. Too often leads to never.

You’re in work-avoidance mode

Symptom: Every time you’re ready to begin writing, you find something else to do instead. Like going to the gym, writing is easy to put off or avoid.

Solution: Just do it. Put it on your calendar. Force yourself to stay at the keyboard until you’re done writing — or at least done for the day. Or allow extra time for your writing because you know you’ll spend part of that time doing other stuff.

The time you spend in work avoidance can actually be productive if the creative part of your brain is working out what you’ll say next.

I often write in spurts. A few sentences or paragraphs. Do something else to avoid writing. A few more sentences or paragraphs. Do something else to avoid writing. Keep repeating until done.

That may not sound like a great solution, but I find it works. It’s like the time spent between sets when lifting weights.

You know what you want to say, but not how to say it

Symptom: You’re looking at that blank piece of paper and have absolutely no idea where to begin or what to say once you do. A frequent problem for people who don’t write a lot and aren’t comfortable putting words on paper.

Solution: Start talking. Who are writing for? What do you want to tell them? Why will they care? If you’re lucky enough to have someone who will listen, talk to them about it. Tell them what you want to say to the audience you’re writing for. Or talk to yourself about it.

What are you trying to say? Talk it out. Then put that on paper.

You need help telling your story

Symptom: You recognize you don’t have the writing skill to tell your story the way you want.

Solution: Admit you need help and get it.

Okay, this is a shameless plug for what I do for a living. Good advice, nevertheless, if you need help.

I’ve worked with enough designers and read enough books about layout and design that I can help clients with simple document designs.

But I don’t have the skill to do complex designs. So I get help when I need it. And a good designer will almost always do a better job than I will on even the simple design jobs I can do when I have to. So, I get help for those, too, when I can.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Storytelling Tip: Be Authentic

 

Storytelling Tip: Be Authentic
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Be Authentic

Today’s Storytelling Tip from JerryBrownPR

What’s the “secret sauce” of your story? It’s you. So, be yourself. Be authentic. Be real.

We all have stories to tell. And each of our stories is unique. I tell my story differently than you tell yours. And vice versa.

One reason we tell our stories differently is because our stories are different.

But even if we had the same stories to tell we’d tell them differently because we’re different from one another. We have different personalities. Different styles. Different perspectives about what’s important.

I offer a lot of tips about how to tell your story — on this blog, when working with clients and elsewhere. And following that advice will improve your chances of getting your story heard, understood and remembered.

But it doesn’t matter how well you implement the mechanics of telling your story if it isn’t authentically yours because it won’t have your secret sauce. And it’s your secret sauce that gives your story its soul and makes it special.

Authenticity also adds credibility. Think about the people you like and trust. Most of us are willing to forgive a few flaws in return for authenticity.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

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Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016