Hey there! Since you’re back for “C” in our 3-part ABC themed series- let’s take the next step to check out our stories. Let’s go live!
If you have taken on the lessons of A for accept, and B for the business stories to outline as your toolkit in talking to an audience of one or many, then we move on to C. Here is where we ‘test talk’ the story to see if works. The effect we are going for is a business story that is memorable to the listeners and one that is repeatable by your audience. How else are you gonna know – if not to test them out loud?
Time to stand and deliver!
Take the stories you crafted and try them out with an audience. You can do it in person or you can present your stories in online platforms. Tell them, even in a quick summary and go for smooooooth. Your practice lends consistency to your message and connection to your audience. Gotta start somewhere.
To be right and ready, stories should be told. Practice builds your confidence. You’ve got two practice options: Private or public
Start by reading your notes out loud. Get feedback if you can from a reliable listener.
That listener is important, but guess what? Even when you read your notes aloud alone, you will detect those sneakily long sentences. Your breath will tell you even before your rational mind counts up the words and agrees. You will hear the words that crept in and need a fix to keep momentum and interest going on the page for our readers or in person for your listeners.
Practice telling and you’ll reduce any awkward bits that might come up when you present. It could be feelings evoked by the material, or stumbling blocks over pronunciations.
For me, as kooky as it sounds, it’s conversations my inner self decides to have with me, while I am talking in front of folks, about my preparedness or the quality of my content. Imagine! When I take time to rehearse and refine my message I reduce the risk of such an invisible obstacle asserting itself between me and my audience. Maybe one of these story time saboteurs have come up for you?
2. Public practice
The best way, even the only way to build your confidence is to tell, tell, tell and to refine your stories.
Get what I call ‘air time.’ These are speaking opportunities to test your message and improve your delivery. When I first moved to Vancouver and I was without my ‘halo’ all shiny from hometown successes known to my market. I knew I needed to get in front of people and acclimatize to the new community. Staying solo and silent would only erode my ‘gift of the gab’ and the ability to connect by sharing stories. I would soon rust when what I really needed to do was reach out in a new place where no doors were opening to me by reputation.
Luck, if you understand it to preparedness meeting opportunity, led me to become a ‘step-on’ guide. In one speaking gig I was motivated to get to know my new city AND to organize and craft a story that would seamlessly draw in visitors for 2 or 4 or 6 hours under my guidance.
It gave me the opportunity to hone my skills and exercise my voice and strengthen my confidence. Same city. Same routes. Yet, with each ‘gig’ the practice made the stories feel like a spontaneous conversation appealing to different kinds of listeners. Up to 56 passengers being driven through a constantly moving stage, getting loads of information – yet they felt engaged and entertained.
How to practice publicly?
Do tell your story to a willing ear in full. Share it in summary on the phone. Text the basics. Anyway you get it out, in bits or as a whole, you reinforce your order of telling, the details and the confidence that you can go from A to C in the story, and get it right.
Cumulative practice gives you the power to customize on the spot. It helps you be responsive to your listeners. To stand with confidence while you present the consistent message to reinforce your brand or to be recognizable to your audience.
Nervous? It’s understandable, but know this:
A) Listeners are cheering for you to succeed. They hope to learn, laugh, improve or be assured – whatever your message and stories promise.
B) In this buzzed up high-speed world, a listener is giving you their most precious and sought-after resource: their attention. They care about you.
So, be authentic and relevant. Have confidence in knowing that story works in business. Put some work in and match your message and purpose.
Practice telling your story and adapt it to any platforms that represent you 24/7 such as your website, sales letter, blog, social media posts and so on.
Your voice, your story will come across and be consistent. Have confidence in that. Think you’d like a boost towards a better story telling experience as you move from A to B to C in your story preparations? Drop me a line via the contact page. I’m always game to give someone 20 minutes to hear their story and see if we can work together towards a memorable ending!
Helena Kaufman creates content and coaches business bloggers through her Vancouver based service, Story Market. It’s her passion. She invokes 25 years of experience in public relations and an award-winning writing career to interpret and present the stories of people, programs and organizations. “It all starts with a story,” she says.