#LeadandLift | Episode 83 | Kyle Gray
Storytelling is a skill that can be learned. Uncover the key ingredients to crafting compelling stories that resonate with your audience, overcome objections, and create meaningful connections.
Our special guest today, Kyle Gray, is an expert storyteller, world-class presentation coach, Story Strategist, and author who helps people use storytelling to better communicate their unique value.
He has always been the type to find himself listening very carefully to people who are brilliant at what they do. However, sometimes, those brilliant people get lost in their own forests of experience and ideas. Kyle found that he is able to help these brilliant people through listening and story strategy. He discovered how to listen carefully for those key components in order to communicate one’s value in an interesting and meaningful way.
One interesting phenomenon that Kyle was able to observe in people who began to use storytelling in their presentation is that when people are able to get a hold of who they are, what they are doing, and why they are doing it, then it changes how they feel about themselves. As Kyle had put it, “They could give the same presentation and get twice as better results just because the meaning was there for them.”
“I started to learn the intricacies of how our language influences ourselves, and how the stories we tell ourselves can create energy and opportunity or can create limitations and struggle.” - Kyle Gray
That’s why it’s important for us to create a good foundation in our communication by establishing and empowering the story that we tell ourselves first before we share ourselves to the world.
Storytelling is a skill that can be learned. Kyle says that it’s like a martial art and you start by learning basic moves at first and working yourself constantly on a journey towards mastery. When you reach that point in your journey, authentic storytelling will become a thing that you naturally do without having to think about.
Honing your storytelling skill is not done just by merely talking to a mirror or to an empty room. You get better at telling stories by practicing it with an audience. Seek conversation, and when the opportunity comes, practice telling your story to the person that you’re speaking with.
By practicing with one simple story in one simple situation, Kyle noticed that people started to experience something he calls “the click”. Before they know it, people became more eager to tell more stories until suddenly you’re able to share your positive energy with the people you speak and they bounce their positivity back into you.
Before we talk about the ingredients of a great story, you’ve got to ask yourself a few questions. First of all, what story do you want to tell? You’ve got to start with your intention or your goal. Determine whether it’s to open people up, overcome objections, leave them with an idea or motivation, or any reason
Your origin story is just the tip of the iceberg, it is the perfect place to start. A good origin story needs three simple ingredients:
A painful moment. This painful moment is most meaningful if coming from your own past however it can also be somebody else’s painful moment. What’s important is to reflect back to the audience the problem or pain that they are experiencing in their own life. Ask yourself, “When was the moment that you couldn’t stand living with this problem anymore, and that you knew you had to make a change?”
Crafting the solution or the big process. At the climax of the problem, that’s when you talk about your turning point and what process you went through, and what lessons you had to learn in order to get through the problem. Instead of going in with your big idea, talk about what you wanted at that time based on the circumstance that you were in. Ask yourself, “What are the unique things that make up who you are, and the solution that you started crafting in?
The moment the problem was solved. In this part of the story, you have what the audience desires, you’re experiencing the fulfillment of that moment. You’re giving people a glimpse of what’s possible in their life.
You might’ve noticed that a lot of the ingredients of a good story rely on your knowledge of what your clients are experiencing. That’s how you find these ingredients, by thinking about your clients and keeping a pulse on what are their pains and problems right now.
“What are their pains and problems right now? The better and more clearly, that we can describe that and understand that in our audience, we can use that as an emotional compass to actually navigate and immerse ourselves in emotional moments from our own life.” - Kyle Gray
Kyle says that most of our memories and ideas aren’t accessible if our emotional cars are parked in neutral. That’s why people sit down in front of a blank page and they don’t know what to do. People feel like they don’t have any stories.
Everybody has stories, one just has to bring those out of them by prompting the ideas into motion. The way to do that is to feel an emotion. Empathize with your clients. Step into their shoes and allow yourself to feel.
Competency and authenticity are especially important in our day and age where AI exists and there’s a near-infinite amount of information that’s available. People want to listen to a speaker that’s authentic. Your story doesn’t need to be of epic or heroic proportions, it only has to be
genuine. If it can be meaningful and powerful to you, it can move your audience as well as long as you strive for mastery of your own storytelling skill. Storytelling is a martial art of the mind.
“You can take something simple, and you can craft that into a compelling story also, and teach the audience the message that you wanted to share with them.” - Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath
Always tell a story with an understanding of the audience and the goal. If you’re given an opportunity to teach an audience, remember a few simple rules. Unless they’ve paid money for it, Kyle observed that people don’t actually want to learn how to do something. They may think that they want to learn how, but they don’t.
When you meet people where they are, they would have a series of beliefs about why the solution won’t work for them. That’s why it’s important to make it your goal to have their beliefs and paradigms shifted so that they could be opened up to possibility.
You’ve got to keep trying to open up their minds to possibilities until they are committed. You're doing a disservice if you're just teaching people how to all the time.
Kyle concluded the call by giving out a sample and a pearl of parting wisdom for all of us. He says that when you can get clear on your message, in your “why”, that really resonates and connects with you, you can draw out the big powerful energy that’s inside of you.
In other words, the biggest problem you’re facing right now doesn’t have to stay as a problem, it can be turned into rocket fuel. That is the power of storytelling.
“Storytelling is a skill, it takes practice. The stories that we tell create energy and lift all energy.” - Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath
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