03 May 3 Things To Make Your Stories Better
Our oldest daughter Allison loves to tell stories. Sometimes it seems like there is no end to the amount of words that she has to speak. She comes home from school and starts talking and doesn’t stop, EVER! She has always been this way, when she was a little girl we would put her to bed and she would fall asleep mid sentence, as if thats not enough she would wake up and finish the sentence and the story. In fact right now she is doing dishes with her mom and telling stories. Listening to her stories there are a few things I have realized that she needs to do to make them better, in fact they are things that we can do to tell better stories.
1) Eliminate the Unnecessary
Allison fills her stories with “like”, “um”, “so”, and all sorts of other unnecessary words. She also throws in all kinds of details that aren’t really important to the story, but she found them interesting so she includes them. Don’t get me wrong, this is great when you are doing dishes with your mom and telling stories, but to make the stories better we have to get rid of it. When we tell stories there are always parts of it that we love. They are the details that mean something to us, but have little interest to others and don’t make the story any better. When you are telling a story whether it’s while speaking, writing, or on video, don’t be afraid to make hard decisions on what to cut out.
Get rid of the fluff and make more room for the great stuff.
2) Make It Clear
Sometimes Allison talks so fast it’s hard to understand what she is saying. There are just so many words to get out she just can’t get them out quick enough. The problem is that when you are telling a story people have to be able to understand it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the story ourselves we make it hard to understand. This problem may be the pacing of the story, like it is for Allison, or it may be in the content. Are there parts of your story that include information that is known to you but not to the hearer? Are there words you are using that don’t make sense to your audience? If you want your story to be impactful and powerful, make sure it is CLEAR.
3) Work On The Ending
Sometimes we tell Allison that she needs to say “the end” when she is done with a story. We tell her that because there are lots of times that we are not sure if the story has ended or not. There are two things that cause this problem. The first instance is when there is no point to the story (at least no point that matters to the audience). Make sure your story has a point that it drives home and drive that point home with the ending. The second instance is when you haven’t worked on your ending enough to make it compelling. Someone told me when I was young that telling stories is like flying planes, the “take off” and “landing” are the hard parts, the stuff in the middle most anyone can do. Telling a great story means spending time working on the ending. The ending is what makes the audience love your story. Few times in life will you hear “I loved that movie, the middle of it was amazing.” Think of how often the ending of a movie is what takes it from good to great, the same is true for your stories.
We all have stories to tell. Let’s tell great stories.