One woman raised her hand and said she’d been having trouble getting her own TEDx idea accepted. She assumed it was because she didn’t have a book. (Actually, you don’t need a book to give a TEDx talk.)
Her topic? Choosing the right career. She says that the world of work has changed dramatically, and you can’t choose the right one if you don’t know yourself.
Ok, fine, I said. But we were missing something: Her story.
That’s when she told me she herself had had SEVEN careers. Aha!
Then I said, “Does that mean you as a person kept changing, or did you not know yourself until now?”
She dismissed it quickly: “I don’t think my story would be helpful to anyone.”
Wrong, I said.
The fact that she doesn’t think her story matters is the very reason this talk hasn’t found its heart yet. She has a topic, but she has not tapped her own story yet.
So, what role does personal story play in your talk?
HUGE. Talks without story are dry as a bone, and leave no impression. But when you share something real, it changes everything.
I think of story, anecdote, examples, scenes as the FAT of a talk—an essential fat. Ideas and data are like fat soluble vitamins—you can’t digest them without the fat. And that’s why story-less talks slip right through your system, undigested.
You can also have a story—an amazing, terrifying, moving, amazing story—and not have much of a talk. Because a talk isn’t just storytelling, either—you must extract meaning. You need both if you’re going to knock it out of the park.
Sarah Montana (below) is a writer and performer. She does not yet have a book. She does have one hell of a story, though, and it took her years to be able to tell it.
In the TEDx talk you absolutely must watch (“The Real Risk of Forgiveness—and Why It’s Worth It”), Sarah tells the story of how two members of her family were murdered in their home.
It is, hands down, one of the most powerful talks you will see.
But it’s not JUST “hey this happened and it was terrible” (which of course it is). It’s about how you wrestle with forgiving the unforgivable.
She challenges the very notion of forgiveness, and changes the way we see it. Do you have to have endured traumatic loss to tell a worthwhile story? Wrong again. You just have to have lived on the planet a while and experienced something, anything. (Seriously, watch it.)
So, how does YOUR story challenge how we see things? Think about it.
And who better to learn the power of personal story than from Sarah herself?? Fact is, Sarah will be a presenter at Tapped to Speak LIVE, the live in-person workshop I’m hosting in Boston April 4 & 5.
You’ll not only start writing your talk right then and there—you’ll learn how to wield your own personal stories responsibly (and how to know you’re ready to tell them).