29 Jul: Setting the stage

We so often forget the importance of how we begin. How we begin discussions, how we begin meetings, how we begin making decisions.  A couple days ago I was running a workshop with the executive leadership team of a healthcare company and was instantly reminded of this. We were tasked to help them position their company as they burst onto the market place riding the waves of some very interesting clinical data. Right at the beginning of the workshop, the CEO opened by noting a few important points to make sure his executives were fully engaged and understand the significance of this moment and why we were gathered there. Simple words, but highly impactful. It set the tone for the rest of the day and we were engaged throughout the session. An astute leader never misses the chance to raise the performance of the team, and I’m always excited to work…

01 Jul: Go the other way

We hear the word “differentiation” in the world of marketing and branding very often. How can you differentiate from the competition? What is your secret sauce? In the land of brown cows, the “purple cow” stands out, as marketing guru Seth Godin puts it. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you want to become more successful, become more fulfilled, you need to take risks, you need to be different. This idea of swimming against the tide, doing the opposite in order to stand out is a very intuitive one. So why don’t most people or most organizations dare to be truly different? Because being different requires a vision. Because being different means we need to know who we are and be ok with it. Because being different attracts scrutiny. Being different is hard, but being different means you have a shot at being heard. In todays infinitely cluttered environment,…

09 Jun: What silent films reveal about great storytelling

A recent trip to the Castro Theater during the Silent Film Festival immersed me in a surreal experience. It was simple, delightful and innocent. It was back to the basics of storytelling. We watched movies made by the Amazing Charlie Bowers, a comedian that used animation and invention themes to tell his stories. The single most powerful way great stories are told is allowing the audience to fill in the blanks. Michel Hazanavicius, the French director of the award winning film The Artist, which took home 5 Oscars including best film and director in 2012 said it best in an interview with The Atlantic “The less you do, the more the audience does”. He recounts a film by Fritz Lang called M, where the killer in the movie grabs a girl with a balloon and the camera follows the balloon. There is no violence, just the balloon. What happened? What…

30 May: Storytelling tips #7: Use it to motivate

One of the biggest factor of productivity and retention for employees is feeling connected to the organization. By constantly telling stories from your customers, you help the organization understand their purpose and how each individual contributes to the customer experience. In the medical device industry, patients are often brought into the companies to share how the products have touched their lives through touching and thoughtful stories. Use those stories, we all deserve them.

24 May: Storytelling tip #4: What’s your AIM?

The purpose of a story is to influence. In order to craft a story that can elicit a desired response, work from your audience’s perspective. Who are you talking to? What are their beliefs? What do you want them to do? What do they need to understand in order to take that action? Answer these questions as a foundation to building your story. A clear message means a compelling story. You can find other storytelling resources on the #9story9 page. Enjoy!

15 May: Storytelling tip #3: Use your experiences

It’s tempting to write about an alien civilization or a mystery happening in the Amazon, but Ricky Gervais, in an interview with Fast Company talks about how it is best to stick with what we know and find something extraordinary to build a story around. Focus on the story and skip the spaceships… You can find other storytelling resources on the #9story9 page. Enjoy!

06 May: Storytelling tip #2: Words matter

The most memorable parts of a story or performance is the beginning and at the end. To really leave a lasting impression, focus on specific words to kick off your presentation strong and with the right tone. For your ending, make sure it’s impactful and addresses your promise at the beginning for a powerful cathartic ending. JD Schramm: Youtube video You can find other storytelling resources on the #9story9 page. Enjoy!

02 May: Storytelling tip #1: Start in the middle

Grab the attention of your audience by jumping into the story. A slow buildup is boring and expected. “The house was eerily still and quiet that afternoon…” is much better than “Hi, I’m really happy to be here today… blah blah blah”. Try it for yourself, start in the middle. You can always introduce your topic later. JD Schramm: Youtube video You can find other storytelling resources on the #9story9 page. Enjoy!