The Big Myth About Your Story
A common statement I hear from newer speakers is, “I haven’t done anything special. Why would anyone want to hear my story?”
If you’ve ever felt this way, it’s because your story is boring.
You may be thinking, “What a jerk!” Before you exit out of this post, please hear me out. There’s another part to that sentence. “Your story is boring….
A Common Belief
I’ve worked with many speakers. Most discount the impact of their own stories. With every client, I ask them to share their memorable ones. Almost all say something like the sentence above – “I haven’t done anything special. Why would anyone want to hear my story?
The reason they ask is that they’ve never done anything newsworthy. They’ve never climbed to the top of Mt Everest. They haven’t survived a bear attack. They’ve not won an Olympic gold medal.
There’s an interesting point about not accomplishing these types of feats. Few people have accomplished them. The biggest challenge to uncovering your best stories isn’t your stories. It’s your perception of them.
Mom’s Invaluable Lesson About Story
I learned this in 2010. My mother gave me a priceless gift — writing a journal about the first 20 years of her life. This gave me insight and understanding of her at a deeper level. One part in particular that stood out was the narrative of the first five years of her life.
Mom was born in Northeastern France in the earliest part of World War 2. She recounted the extreme conditions her family faced during the German occupation.
For instance, she wrote about their daily struggle to find food. “Every day, your grandmother would make sure my sister and I were wearing clean dresses – the only ones we had. They had been sewn and re-sewn so many times we lost count – but it was the only dress each of us had. They had to last.
“We then walked to the village half-a-mile away to find food. We asked one question every day. It wasn’t ‘what are we going to eat today?’ It was, ‘are we going to eat today?’ Most days we found food, but occasionally we didn’t.
‘Nights were also tough. We had to live in total blackout conditions because we were afraid of the nightly bombing runs. When the air raid sirens went off, we had to run down 18 stairs, across a parking lot and into a shelter.
You’re Too Close To Your Own Story
I read these words from the comfort of my home sitting in a safe city in the midwest of the United States. I was stunned. I didn’t know the difficulty my family had endured during the war. When I had an opportunity, I talked with her about it. I said, “Mom, I can’t believe what you went through during the war. How did you do that?”
She looked at me for several seconds. Then, nonchalantly, with a shrug of her shoulders, said, “It’s what we did, honey.”
It took me a few days to understand the tone of her response. She didn’t understand the power of her own story. The problem for most people is that they’ve lived their lives and their experiences are ‘normal’ to them. You tend to be unimpressed by your own life because it’s all you know. Because it’s normal to you doesn’t mean that your life isn’t inspirational to someone else.
Everyone has had struggles, strife and setbacks. These are the stories that will resonate with others because they are relatable. Relationship difficulties. Financial hardships. Obstacles at work. Those are situations everyone has faced.
Share these types of stories in your speech. Then tell the audience how you overcame your tough times. You’ll have a talk that others will find compelling and inspirational. And, they definitely won’t think that it’s boring.
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© 2017, Michael Davis. All rights reserved.