#095 – Storytelling – Tell What Happened

I am reading a book by Murray Nossel, “Powered by Storytelling”. As straightforward as the title sounds, it is about storytelling. Everyone can tell stories, we are designed to do so and attracted to stories. But how to tell a good story, it is another story.

Today I find something very interesting and useful in the book, so I am going to write this down and share with you.

Many times, we are just saying out the facts, for example,

“I don’t like the way this client addresses me. It’s disrespectful”.
What if we can rephrase it to be: “I walked into the boardroom, and the client didn’t look at me. He gestured toward the chair and said one word: sit!” 

Do you notice the differences? Okay, one more example from the book.

“I tried not to show that I was angry. But I was so pissed off.”
My hands were shaking. I clenched my jaw. I didn’t say anything after he cut me off and told me, “That’s a stupid idea.” 

WAO! The impact! It’s up like 300%.

The writer calls this technique using the WHAT HAPPENED? CAMERA. It’s just like reading a novel versus watching a drama.

  1. Tell what happened according to the five senses. If you can’t hear it, taste it, smell it, touch it, and/or see it, then it didn’t happen.
  2. Take out all interpretations, opinions, judgments, statements of feeling, and anything else that the WHAT HAPPENED? CAMERA would not be able to see.
  3. No morals or lessons learned. Those do not belong in the story. Let your listeners be free to make up their own moral or lesson.
  4. Trust your listeners’ ability to understand your message, thanks to your description of what happened to you.
  5. The goal of your story is to connect with your listeners. Saying what happened allows for that connection to happen.

I would say this idea is brilliant but it’s not easy to change our writing or speaking skill just like that, we need practices. I always tell facts in chronological orders, so dumb. It is time to upgrade my storytelling skills through this CAMERA LENS.

Allow me to copy more examples from the book, so that we can learn together:

“I worked for an abusive manager.”
“My manager throw a book at me. I ducked, and it hit the wall.

“Xander always comes late to meetings because he just doesn’t care about the project or the team, and he’s probably consumed with just his own career path forward – let’s not mention the sloppy way he keeps his office!”
“Xander came to the meeting after everyone else. In fact, the meeting had already started. Earlier, when I entered his office, I saw piles of paper on his desk and on the floor. His computer screen displayed websites unrelated to our work.”

So you can see how these have been improved and added more colors. Just to be careful not to become naggy and long-winded.

In Toastmasters contests, the winners always use a simple and short life story in their speeches, but the ways they describe and elaborate just like what we have learned here, make the whole speech amazing.

Happy to be enlightened by Murray Nossel. Hope you learn something here too.

Image result for powered by storytelling

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