Have a crazy story no one would believe? Did you bump into a celebrity and have an awkward encounter? Have a brief fictional story you want to share with the world? Here’s your chance! I decided it would be a lot of fun to start a weekly storytelling post. This is YOUR chance to tell us your story.
I want to us to share the little stories and antidotes you tell at party and networking events. Or better yet a story about what went wrong at party or networking event. It can funny, sad, inspiring or embarrassing. I’m not looking for perfection, I just want to give folks a chance to stretch that creative muscle they don’t get to use very often.
Every Tuesday I’m going to open a post like this one and invite all you folks itching to share your stories. There are no prizes or awards, just the undying admiration of ones of people. I’m hoping with a little luck and your help we can get that up to the undying admiration of tens of people soon!
As with any good endeavor, there are some ground rules.
Keep it clean! This site is for folks of all ages, anything not suitable for a PG audience will be removed (sorry, but my kids can read this blog and my 6 year old is a great reader – there are just some things I don’t need her sounding out!).
Keep it fairly short! This isn’t the place to write the next great novel. Let’s see how short stories go before we move into long form writing.
Nothing Copyrighted Please! Please make sure that you’re telling your own story and not someone else’s.
No bashing other people/companies/political parties/ethnic groups/sexual orientation/career choices/physical appearance or ability/musical tastes! Again, this is a “Troll Free Zone” – leave the mean and nasty at the door. It’s one thing to have a funny encounter in a strange situation or a strange encounter in a funny situation. Using your story to insult others is another thing all together.
I reserve the right! This is my blog and my face to the Internets, I reserve the right to change the rules, or remove content that break the rules. Sorry folks, but I’m sure that if you can find someone willing to let you post a story about a liberal Republican that walks with a limp and listens to Yani while sheep herding and why you hate them. I am not that someone, and this is not the place.
Grab your quill and pen. Or your mouse and keyboard. Spend 5 minutes telling us a story. Don’t be shy!
Stanford Smith makes some great points this post about “preaching to the choir” if you will. And he’s right. It’s great to have the support of like-minded people, but if the right people aren’t getting your message the right way, you’re getting nowhere. I’ve talked before about how it’s important to know your audience. And, whether your marketing a university, developing adult learning content, or producing a killer video, you need to make sure the audience you’re creating your story for is the audience that gets it. It happens all the time. We write a marketing piece in a way that appeals to our executive, but is it written in a way that will appeal (and sell to) your audience? Will your learners love the content as much as the other instructional designers do, or will the be confused and turned-off by it? Those special-effects and artistic edits are awesome, but are you doing it to show off your favorite skills or to reach wedding and corporate clients? It’s so easy to study your audience and develop something for them but do it in a way that appeals not to the audience, but to ourselves or our peers. I think we’re all guilty of it from time to time. I’ll be the first to admit that I have. I’ve done promos and videos that I thought were great but missed the mark with the audience because they just didn’t get it. But, I’ve also done videos that I didn’t really connect with that were exactly what the client and the audience needed to see. I challenge you to go back and take an honest look at the stories you’re telling. I have and I’m going to be doing a few rewrites on a project I’m working on where the target audience is very different from the people involved. I did a pretty good job in the beginning, but I can see now that I lost that edge a bit. Now that I’m aware I can make it right. If you’re in the same boat I’m in, here are a few suggestions to help you stay on track:
Get out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to the interests and environment of your audience. Remind yourself where they’re coming from. Don’t assume you know.
Do a focus group or have an informal chat with folks from your target audience. What story do they want to hear from you or your client?
Look for outside experts. Don’t just listen to the usual people get opinions from, find someone from outside your circle to give an objective opinion.
I’ve been known to put up signs up around my desk to remind me about the audience I’m trying to reach.
Take a minute. Think about the stories you’re telling now. Are you telling your story in a way that will move, excite or affect your audience? Is your story being told in a way that’s too “inside” your environment to reach that target audience out there? Are you telling the right story, the right way, to the right audience?
The answer to those questions are the difference between telling your story and selling your story.