Back when I was living in the countryside of Ireland, I used to travel to a farmhouse type pub way out in the countryside, seven miles from my home. I had to travel along roads that were barely two small car widths, with twists and turns all along the way. I used to frequent this pub on a Tuesday night because that was when musicians, poets, and storytellers would show up for a fun filled, relaxing evening.
The roaring coal fire would push out the dampness. The characters that would turn up ranged from pretty, young farmer girls, to weathered looking storytellers, to jolly musicians. Just thinking about this place brings fond memories and warmth to my mind. It amazed me the way the old storytellers could tell a story with so much tension, emotion, humor, and visual detail.
As a public speaker and award winning storyteller I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of using stories in keynote speeches, workplace meetings, presentations, seminars, and training. They make your points come alive, they captivate your audience, and they make your information memorable. There is no better feeling than someone coming up to you and saying “I remember you- you were the one who told the story about…”
In this blog, I will cover a methodology for compiling hundreds of your own stories. Once you start compiling your own stories, you will never end up looking at a blank sheet of paper thinking to yourself, “What can I write about?” or “How can I make this interesting?”
Purchase some mini Post-It notes and keep some in your car, in your wallet, and in your kitchen. Anytime you see, hear, or recall something funny, amusing, or interesting, write down a very brief outline within 1 minute. The outline could be just enough to jog your memory when you come to expand the story, or it could be a more detailed description. The reason I have a golden rule to write down the thought within one minute is because it may be lost even as I scramble to find a pen. There is nothing more frustrating than standing with a pen in your hand, looking at a Post-It Note and finding that the thought you had a few moments ago has just evaporated.
Over a period of a few years, I have captured nearly 300 vignettes and observations which I build upon to incorporate into presentations, training sessions, humorous speech competitions, blogs, newsletters, humor, and even books that I am presently writing. Every month or so, I gather my Post-It Notes and transcribe the information into a database. In this database I hyperlink the story summary to a separate page where I stretch them from observations or vignettes into stories that have vivid details. Does this sound like a lot of work? It really isn’t. When I am having a lunch break or drinking coffee at home on the weekend, I might peruse my list of outlines and decide which one I am in the mood to elaborate and write out in more detail. All my blogs started off as a sentence or two on a post it note (or in my database) to remind me of the observation.