Everyone loves a good story. And, we “Southerners” sure do love to tell a story. Stories convey the fabric of who we really are, what we are like, how we see things and our perspectives. And, in the South, we never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Story-telling is serious business.
As a child growing up in the South, if my momma said, “son, don’t tell me a story,” I knew exactly what she meant. I knew this was not the time, nor the place, for a “little white lie” a.k.a. “a story.” I also had to reconcile this notion because my grandmother called the soap operas she watched everyday her “stories.” Those story lines could never be true, could they?
As I consider my own stories, whether personal or professional, I consider three factors:
Make It Personal
Everyone has a story to tell. You know yourself better than anyone else. I find the best stories involve a personal situation that others can relate to. I try to use a relatable example to help “tell and sell” my message. This technique gives a story meaning. And, if you are “foot-in-mouth” prone like I am, you will have plenty of material to craft your own story. However, your story is much more than your name, your job, your marital status and whether or not you like to bowl. It’s your story, so tell it!
Make It Interesting
How you tell your story matters. You don’t have to be an excellent public-speaker to make things interesting. Please don’t begin your story with, “it was a dark and stormy night,” unless it was a dark and stormy night. Try to capture your audience with details that add an interesting aspect to your story. This also helps you know your audience. I wouldn’t tell a story of the best steak dinner I ever ate to an audience of vegetarians or animal rights activists. (Although, on second thought, that particular story in that particular venue might prove to be interesting.) However, I would tell that story at my college football tailgate. It’s all about context.
Make it Relevant
Ask yourself if your story has a point? We’ve all heard stories that fail to achieve a desired outcome. Is there a need to insert your story into the conversation? Your story should add value to make it relevant. This technique gives your story meaning. Your story will possibly result in anecdotes, insights, revelations, helpful hints, and even solutions you never thought possible. Let your story play to people’s imaginations, their hopes and their dreams while balancing a sense of reality and achievement.
There are many other factors one can consider as you tell a story, but these three core basics can get your “story” started. Your life is worth living, so share it with others!