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Storytelling Tip: Know when to shut up

 

Storytelling Tip: Know when to shut up
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: Know when to shut upToday’s tip is inspired by the end of campaign season: Know when to shut up. Or, more politely, when to keep quiet.

No matter how interested you are in the outcome of the election and no matter who you’re supporting, you probably won’t miss all those ads and robocalls.

Politicians are always going to campaign right up until election day. We expect that. And we expect them to keep pushing their message at us over and over and over. It’s the tone and the length of the campaigning that wears most of us down.

For most of us, there’s not a day set on the calendar when it will be time to quit telling our story. It’s an ongoing saga that won’t end until we leave the world of business.

But there are times when we’re better off keeping quiet. Or limiting what we have to say to things that don’t have anything to do with selling.

I’m a big advocate of telling your story clearly and often. Repetition is important because most of us won’t hear you the first time you deliver your message.

But we don’t want to be hounded by your message. And we don’t want you pushing yourself on us every time we see you.

So, tell your story. Tell it well. And tell it often. But know when it’s time to keep quiet. Or at least when it’s time to talk about something else. Sometimes silence really is golden.

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

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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: Your message is more than the words you say

 

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you say
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: Your message is more than the words you sayThe words you use when developing your message and telling your story are important. But your message is a lot more than the words you use.

Your message also includes:

  • The optics of your story. That includes photos and other images you use in telling your story. We’ve become a very visual society. Limiting your message to words alone will limit its visibility and its appeal.
  • The tone of your story. What do you want to emphasize? Your professionalism? Your friendliness? Trustworthiness? The fact that you care? Your prices? Two companies in essentially the same business may tell their story quite differently because of the tone they choose.
  • Who you are and what you do. If you’re in business, the words you use to tell your story are usually about attracting our interest, getting us to check out what you do or what you sell. But who you are and what you do are equally important to your message. If our experience in doing business with you doesn’t match your words, we probably won’t be back. And instead of recommending you to our friends, we may warn them to stay away.

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: Use Anecdotes, Analogies and Examples

 

Storytelling Tip: Use Anecdotes, Analogies and Examples
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: Use Anecdotes, Analogies and ExamplesAnecdotes, analogies and examples are powerful storytelling tools. Use them whenever possible.

Anecdotes humanize your story. Humanizing your story makes it more appealing to the rest of us — and more likely to get our attention. They make it more likely we’ll hear what you say. But go easy on anecdotes that paint you as the hero. And stay away from anecdotes that criticize or poke fun at someone else.

Analogies simplify your story. Analogies make it easier for the rest of us to understand your story, particularly when used to explain and simplify a complicated point. I learned to love analogies as a journalist and a speechwriter because they’re a quick way to explain things.

Examples help explain your story. Examples are also useful for complicated stories that are hard to explain or understand. Using examples to make an abstract idea concrete makes it more likely to be remembered.

Anecdotes, analogies, examples help get your story heard, understood and remembered. Use them regularly to tell your story.

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: Just Do It

 

Storytelling Tip: Just Do It
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show

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

Storytelling Tip: Just Do ItYou want to tell your story. But you’re having trouble getting started?

Just do it. Start writing, even if you’re not quite sure what you want to say.

Sometimes putting words on paper — even if you go back and change them later — can help you clarify in your own mind what you want to say.

I’m talking about this tip on the Experience Pros radio show this week.  And it’s inspired by Angel Tuccy of the Experience Pros.

If you’re a regular listener, you know Angel and her business partner, Eric Reamer, have written several bestselling books on business.

Angel’s advice to other aspiring book authors: Just do. Start writing.

That’s good advice. And it’s good advice if you’re struggling to put your message into words, too. Just start writing and see where it goes.

One additional piece of advice. Before you’re done you want to know the answers to three very important questions:

  • What’s your objective. What do you want to happen as a result of telling your story?
  • Who’s your audience? Who do you want to hear your message? Why? And why will they care?
  • What’s your message? What’s the one thing you can tell your audience to improve your chances of achieving your objective?

Ideally, you should know the answers to those questions before you start writing your story.

But sometimes you don’t. If you’re stuck, just start writing. But be sure you know the answers to those questions before you’re done. And by the time you’re done, make sure your message speaks clearly to the audience you’re trying to reach in a way that will help you achieve your objective.

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: Skip the Spin

 

Storytelling Tip: Skip the Spin
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: Skip the SpinHave you ever listened to someone flawlessly deliver a perfectly honed message — and you don’t believe a word they say?

We all have. Chances are they’re practitioners of “spin.” Skip the spin if you want the rest of us to believe your story.

You’re entitled to a point of view — and to express it without presenting the other side. And it’s okay, when appropriate, to try to persuade us to buy what you’re selling.

But skip the spin. By that I mean don’t alter or misrepresent the truth to make your story sound better than it is.

As a public relations practitioner, I sometimes come across people who think my job is to make stuff up or bend the truth to convince the rest of you that stinky stuff smells like roses.

Not so. My job is to help my clients tell their story clearly and credibly to the audiences important to them. My job is to help them get their stories heard, understood and remembered.

But I prefer to skip the spin. Because it doesn’t matter what you say or how well you say it if the rest of us don’t believe you because we don’t trust you.

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: 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: 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.

Storytelling Tip: Use the Big 4

 

Storytelling Tip: Use the Big 4
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: Use the Big 4

Today’s storytelling tip from JerryBrownPR

Not sure how to tell your story so it gets heard, understood and remembered?

Use the Big 4 — four ways to tell your story that increase your chances of grabbing our interest:

Solve a problem / create an opportunity: Flip sides of the same thing. What problem can you help us solve? Or what opportunity can you help create for us. If it’s a problem that affects a lot of people or an opportunity a lot of us are interested in, then a lot of us will be interested in hearing what you have to say — and maybe acting on it.

Provide useful information (tips): Offer useful tips to increase interest in your story. Five ways to lose weight. How to conduct business on the golf course. How to avoid long lines at the airport. Providing tips the rest of us can use is a good way to establish your expertise.

Identify a trend: More specifically, tell us how the trend affects us and how we can take advantage of it or avoid being hurt by it.

Help the community: Charity events, for example. If your event or organization helps enough people, some of us may be interested in contributing to your cause.

When I’m trying to find a way to help clients tell their stories, I ask myself if there’s a way to fit their story into at least one of the Big 4 — and how I can do it in a way that will interest as many people as possible.

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: Listen to What You Write

 

Storytelling Tip: Listen to What You Write
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: Listing to What You Write

Today’s storytelling tip from JerryBrownPR

Listen to what you write. Good writing, like good music, has a natural rhythm. If it doesn’t sound right, start editing.

Some poetry follows a specific pattern of rhyme and meter. So, it’s easy to tell when a line is off even if you don’t know why. You can hear the problem. For the same reason, you don’t have to be a musician to tell when a singer hits the wrong note. It doesn’t sound right.

I’m not suggesting you become a poet, using rhymes and iambic pentameter — or whatever. I am suggesting you listen to what you write. And change it if it doesn’t sound right.

What are you listening for? One place to start is punctuation. Do your periods, commas and dashes provide natural breathing spaces for someone reading out loud? If not, it’s time to consider whether your writing is out of rhythm.

Short sentences are usually better than long ones for a lot of reasons. One reason is rhythm. Many times, long sentences are undisciplined sentences. When reading out loud, do you need to breathe more than once per sentence? Then your sentences are too long. Consider breaking some of them into two or three sentences instead.

Short or long, don’t make all your sentences the same length. That’s boring. Short sentences are easier to read. But too many of them lined up back to back can sound a bit abrupt.

One more thought about rhythm and writing. It’s a little trick I learned as a speechwriter before I knew it had a name: The Rule of Threes. Truth, Justice and the American Way. Red, white and blue. For some reason, listing things in threes usually sounds better than listing them in twos or groups of four or more. And lists of three are easier to understand and remember. Why? I don’t know. But it works.

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