How to Share a Story Your Audience Actually Cares About
You want to make a deeper connection with Your audience but you don’t know HOW.
You’ve worked really hard to build your business and as much as you want to be a storytelling ninja, you’re scared. You’re scared to get up on a stage and not look as polished as you do on your website. You’re scared to overshare and have people think differently of you. You’re scared of possibly tainting the thing you’ve worked so hard to build.
I get it, friend.
That was me as I prepared to take the stage at my first creative conference in 2016. At that point in my career, I had been speaking for a decade. I was comfortable in front of audiences as large as 3,000. I had delivered presentations on stages all across the country and shared my story on major international media outlets like ABC 2020, Good Morning America, The Katie Couric Show and many more.
Something about this talk was different
This presentation was in front of my peers. If I’m being completely transparent, I wasn’t fully convinced that I deserved to be on that stage. Who was I to pour into these incredible business owners?
My business journey didn’t start like theirs. I didn’t leave a corporate job to pursue a passion. I didn’t have fancy credentials and a college education to back up my business title.
What would they think when I told them that I was the girl who dropped out of college so that I could go to prison? How could I possibly be of service to them?
Have you ever asked yourself similar questions? Have you ever whispered, “Who am I to do this work?”
Stories Unite Us
Even though my story was so different from anything these women had experienced (and hopefully it’s far different from anything you have experienced), they were able to connect with my message. They understood guilt, shame, fear, and trying to take the next best step after failure - because we all fall down, right?
Neuroscience has also shown us that when you focus on finding common ground with your audience, they’re much more likely to see the world from your perspective.
Your Story Matters
Maybe you’re thinking, “my story is not enough” or “my story is TOO messy to share”. Stop right there!
Your story matters. It matters just as much as anyone else’s.
BUT Your story isn’t actually the most important part of the equation.
It’s WHY you’re telling your story in the first place that makes all the difference.
Storytelling doesn’t have to be hard
Here’s the secret no one wants to tell you: Many of us struggle with sharing our stories because we’re trying to share the wrong story.
We THINK we should be sharing a particular story (origin, failure, etc.), but quickly start to feel overwhelmed when it becomes time to craft it. We spend hours staring at the blinking cursor of death wondering why our story isn’t effortlessly flowing out of us. We waste away days, weeks, and even years focusing on what stories others are telling only to find ourselves saying, “I’m not like THEM…”
It’s time to keep your eyes on your paper and serve your people. I know you want to leave a legacy. You want to make a difference in the world long after you’re gone. But unless you draw a line in the sand and say, “this is the message I’m leaving with the world” and you commit to actually sharing it, that legacy could be lost.
You're not sharing your story for fame or glory. You want to make a difference. In order to do that, WE HAVE TO START WITH YOUR MESSAGE.
From there, we determine what story best supports the message.
How to share your story
Step 1: Determine Who You’re Speaking To
Who is it that you’re going to be sharing your story with? Who is it that you’ve been called to serve? Who is your audience? If you have a mixed audience, pick one for this exercise (if you’re a wedding photographer who also coaches other photographers - select either brides or photographers)
Step 2: Craft Your Billboard Statement
If Time’s Square was packed with all of your ideal clients (everyone you mentioned in step one) and you were able to put up a billboard for them to see, what would it say? What is the ONE message you want to leave with your audience even long after you are gone? If you could only say one thing to your audience, what would you tell them?
I recently did this exercise with attendees at The Creative at Heart Conference and was blown away at how crafting their billboard statements really helped them stand firm in the value they are providing their audience. If you’ve ever questioned your unique path or compared your journey to someone else’s - I can’t urge you enough to try this exercise.
Take a look at some of their billboard statements below in the picture…
Step 3: Pick Your Story
Now that you know the message you want to deliver to your audience, let’s find a story that supports it. What story can you share that backs up your message? What story best illustrates why this message matters or the difference it can make?
Some things to consider when selecting A story to share:
If you specialize in helping business owners achieve the success you have had, your own business journey is a good story to start with.
If you help individuals achieve a result that is not similar to yours, a story of another client’s success may be a good fit.
If you’re sharing a motivational message aimed to inspire, how can you illustrate what that message has done for you or others?
message and story pairings
“You are GOOD ENOUGH to be the face of your business” - Trena Little
Trena Little is a YouTube Strategist who wants her audience to know that they are more than enough. She shares her experience with facing the fear of imposter syndrome and why we have to stop letting what others might say stop us from going after our dreams.
“Your Business Should be Set up to support your life… not run it!” - Andrea Layne
Andrea Layne is a Business Consultant and Project Manager who helps business owners focus on the right activities to move the needle in their business. She shares her own experience (as well as client transformations) is transitioning from a business that ran her life into a business that supports what matters most to her.
Share Your Story
You have an important message to share and your audience is waiting to hear it! If you feel like you’re trying to ‘force’ your story, try the billboard statement exercise mentioned above. Once you’ve selected a story to share it’s time to craft it!
Most of us overcomplicate crafting our stories
I’ve taken the hard work out of the process and created a “mad-libs-style” process to writing your story, FAST! Just click the link below to download the free workbook that will walk you through a fun, simple process that will have your story crafted in a matter of minutes!
Your Billboard statement
Now that you know WHO you’re talking to and WHAT you message is… I want to hear it! Drop your billboard statement in the comments or share it on Instagram and tag me (@JessicaRasdall) so that I can cheer you on as you share your message with the people who need to hear it the most!
JESSICA RASDALL - THE PUBLIC SPEAKING STRATEGIST
As a professional speaker and public speaking strategist, she partners with business owners to craft stories and presentation that connect with their dream clients and help them grow their business from the stage.