Make Your Story Worth Listening To

“I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone’s imagination.” – Hunter S. Thompson


The most influential people move us with a powerful story. The art of storytelling has been used to control, liberate, manipulate, entertain and enlighten. We all have free will and choose to listen to, watch and interact with people that capture our attention and somehow address our inner most desires. But in our modern society with technology as the prominent vehicle that delivers much of our communication; how can we make our stories more effective?

In the good old days of three martini lunches and big expense accounts, there were big marketing departments to find the compelling stories and refine presentations for the executive to deliver like a revered sage of all-things-business. But with today’s ultra lean organizations; we need to find more new & efficient ways to make our stories stand out.

Define Your Objectives 

HeartOnTarget_REALIMAGE_MEDWhat is the desired outcome? Why are you valuable?  What is the best way to deliver your message with impact? Those were some of the questions we revisited when we recently updated our website and sales presentation. Along the way to defining the objectives of our message, we were reminded of the importance of providing meaningful content that was relevant to the needs of our ideal audience and to demonstrate the quality of our work in a more experiential way.

Just as we would go through the client needs analysis process with our prospective clients, we need to sit down and be thoughtful about our motives and goals when it comes to telling our story.

Who is your ideal audience? Before trying to feel out the room or even entering a room, create a profile of your ideal audience. Start with an exercise with people you already know. Let’s say your goal is to convince a decision-maker to invest in you and/or your services, you can think about your friend Ethan, the venture capitalist or your colleague Cynthia, the chief marketing officer and ask yourself these questions:

  • How would they respond to this aspect of this story, this anecdote, etc?
  • Is this concept familiar to them or would it require some explanation?
  • What are the two or three most important objectives they have right now?

If you have any colleagues or personal friends that are in a similar role as the decision maker to whom you will be presenting, set up a meeting to do a mock presentation. You can also offer to treat them to lunch as a token of appreciation for their time and feedback.

Sometimes you may have to get creative and make them up. You might consider looking to market segmentation profiles for inspiration. Market research firms have put a lot of resources towards studying lifestyle demographics. We had some fun with Prizm Lifestyle Segmentation for some of the work that we’ve done in the past. As another exercise, discover what you can come up with using this wealthy, “Young Digerati” as your muse:



Keep developing your personal credibility. In her course: Public Speaking Fundamentals, author Laura Bergells advises us to build up credibility in a few seconds by demonstrating confidence and competence. Prepare to be dressed as the expert that you are. Keep up or develop the habit of standing up straight and making eye contact with an audience member. Get into the habit of making the first words that come out of your mouth carry the tone of boldness, clarity and strength with a focus on assertiveness rather than aggressiveness.

Continue to enrich yourself both professionally and personally. Lifelong learners stay sharp and current. We have found that subscribing to, has been a good investment towards professional development. You can also explore this useful list of 20 places to educate yourself online for free. Another useful piece of advice is to explore a few strong openings such as a compelling open-ended question, a bold statement that has their minds working immediately or by guiding your audience to imagine something. You can also see this at work on the provocative headlines on or the captivating titles on The

After being thoughtful about your direction and making sure your content is relevant, it’s time to put those ideas into action.

Involve Your Audience to a Higher Degree

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” – Confucius

HappyBusinessPeopleEngagedInPresentation_REALIMAGE_MEDEngagement. Connection. Interactive. The impact that social networking has made in the lives of the masses and the fact that the video game industry has recently surpassed both the movie and the music industry in revenue is proof of this. There are a few things to consider such as their business model but on a simple human level, many have demonstrated that they want to be a part of the story.

Here are a few things to consider as part of your content and delivery:

Stimulating the modern, sophisticated and tech-savvy audience. When investing time and attention, many if not all of today’s audience want to be awed or be educated and learn something useful. After all, there are many other distractions we can choose from. So tap into your natural enthusiasm and bring the energy. Be straight forward and transparent about your intentions and try to add some levity to the presentation. If you aren’t a natural comedian, try including personal references of the people you know that are going to be a part of your meeting. You can also do this verbally but it’s even more powerful when you include it in your visual presentation, such as pasting their social media profile picture within the presentation to illustrate a point. The point being, you are including them into your story. This should go without saying but be respectful and put them in a favorable light.

Does your content address how to meet their goals? Depending on the stage of your relationship, you may have to discover that on the spot by simply asking them. Try asking them about general goals that you have solutions for such as sales growth, awareness, or expansion. If you don’t have something that fits, you either need to spend more time uncovering the benefits of your offerings or be ready to accept that this relationship may not be the right fit and allow everyone to move forward with mutually-beneficial partnerships.

The wisdom in play. Find a way to have your audience experience what you are talking about such as including an audience participation segment. For example, if you have invested in give-away premiums, have a quick and simple trivia game that rewards people for remembering the most salient points of the presentation. Or have an interactive component to your visual presentation such as Poll Everywhere. This is used in classrooms to engage 21st century learners by using a real-time polling app. The audience can answer via text message. The answers can be displayed on the web or on your PowerPoint presentation.

If you have an awesome, multimedia presentation such as (brace for shameless plug) our AgileDECKS™, you can go to a site such as Educaplay and create a free crossword puzzle or other types of educational games for another Q & A method to embed into your presentation. Let’s see if you have been paying attention to this section or just a natural at crossword puzzles:

Involve Your Audience

Start Strong, End Strong

SuperHeroBusinessWoman_REALIMAGE_MEDLeave a lasting impression that demonstrates your integrity, intelligence, confidence and competence. People feel safe in the hands of someone who personifies respect, success and evolved being. So align yourself with these qualities as you leave them with one more story of how you can contribute to their business’ as well as their own well-being and growth.

Remember that you share the same core human drives as your audience, leave them feeling inspired and empowered but most of all deliver on your promises with honesty and genuine care.

So how do we make sure that our story is worth listening to? Know your goals, know yourself, keep learning, know your audience as best as you can, inspire them to get involved and end strong leaving a sense of connection. In other words: Put some love into it.




With much gratitude to our sources: | Business Story Telling with C.C. Chapman | Public Speaking Fundamentals with Laura Bergells| 20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free | Prizm Market Segmentations | Why Video Game Companies Win Where the Movie and Music Industries Fail
With great thanks to these artists (Photo Credits):
Businessman writing |  violetkaipa / 123RF Stock Photo
Businessman pulling back his shirt to reveal target |  solarseven / 123RF Stock Photo
Smiling business people looking at blue map interface | wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo
Businesswoman flying up into the sky | nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

How Effective Leaders Inspire Themselves and Others

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau


Whether it is for business or personal reasons, inspiration is at the core of all great creations that withstand the many tests of time. A healthy balance of brains and heart gives anything engineered the breath of life and purpose. Or else it results in short lived passion and projects. Effective people share the traits of success and influence as well as a story of how a spark of inspiration set them afire; that surge of power that can move people to move mountains with you. These are some of the ways they accomplished aligning themselves with that power.

Trigger Your Epiphanies 

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There has to be a better way to do this. This is the statement that can open many great doors. It is expressed when people have admitted to themselves that they are stuck on something or exerting energy that feels inefficient and are now open for a solution. This is the moment when we let go of the thought that this solution can come solely from our own efforts. The trigger to your epiphany here is to be receptive.

  • Reach out and connect. Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur extraordinaire, wrote an insightful blog on not going it alone. Inspired by his time spent at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he shares the value of connecting with colleagues, like-minded individuals and those chance meetings that turn into your most important relationships. He quotes another innovator he admires, the late Steve Jobs, who was known to be a recluse at times yet expressed appreciation for collaboration: “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

Someone I care about needs a solution. This moment has been the driving force of many innovations. Whether they are from our home, our social circles or office, people confide in us about their frustrations because we have demonstrated having insight in favorable directions. Or we witness someone or a community we care about suffering, and are motivated to help them find a solution. We, in turn, are gifted with an opportunity to tap into our ingenuity with meaningful purpose. The trigger to your epiphanies here is to genuinely care about other people.

A greater good. Remembering that you play a vital role in the interconnectedness of society and the world as a whole, liberates you from shortsightedness and places you in that advantageous position of having a view of the bigger picture. During what began as a leisurely safari around the time of their wedding, Bill and Melinda Gates had an eye-opening experience walking through villages in AfricaWatching women carrying sticks on their heads while carrying their babies, attached to both their front and back, in unhealthy living conditions was the beginning of their philanthropic mission focusing on education and health for the impoverished. They have inspired a movement among their esteemed colleagues who make large contributions to similar causes.

If you would like to get inspired in a way that benefits everyone involved and get access to a different perspective; roll up your sleeves and volunteer. Being in a different environment that is in need can strengthen your bond with your team and fire up your synapses for solution-based thinking. Volunteer Match can help you search for local opportunities by what you care about.


Kindling the Spark

InspirationBLOG_HappySunGroup_REAL_MEDShare it, spread it and keep it going. After feeling alive with inspiration, you are now the tinder that will ignite the spark of innovation. Sharing it with your team or rallying others up, can be the necessary kindling for it to catch on fire. That will require them believing in this cause towards which you will all be putting effort. It is a good time to remember that you both share the five core human drives that influence decisions:


  1. To Acquire: It is the desire to collect material and immaterial things, like a car, or influence.
  2. To Bond: Desire to be loved and feel valued in relationships with others.
  3. To Learn: Desire to satisfy our curiosity.
  4. To Defend: Desire to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our property.
  5. To Feel: Desire for many emotional experiences, such as pleasure or excitement.

It is helpful to keep these drives in mind and relate them to specific aspects of the project as you clearly articulate your common goal.

Simon Sinek gives a compelling TED Talk about how great leaders inspire action. He shares his philosophy on “The Golden Circle” of human motivation and how it correlates with the parts of the brain that influence different types of decision-making. Using examples such as the effectiveness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the success of Apple products to demonstrate that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Effective leaders know that nurturing trust and the well-being of all involved is key to knowing what is at the heart of their team’s motivations. You have to truly care about them for them to truly care about you.

Adding a coaching element to connecting with your team can result in an empowered group of individuals energetic with productivity that understand the importance of their role in the project and enjoy succeeding together. For a little more insight on effective coaching towards making a long-term positive impact, read here.

With the spark and the kindling in place, you have to add the wood; the sustaining fuel. The tools you supply demonstrate the level of innovation and impact you want to develop together. It is also important to continue to nurture a fun and inspirational environment. 

Check out this free, new life-coaching app: Lift. It helps make achieving personal goals a fun social experience towards self-development. Experts and users alike add goals with step-by-step plans covering categories such as health, mindfulness, productivity, communication and learning. Doing this with your team or with other like-minded people can be a bonding experience through personal growth. 

Aligning with the power of inspiration requires being the inspiration, sharing the flame of enthusiasm and collaboratively creating something driven by a sense of purpose and made with great care. More importantly, enjoy uncovering the fun together as you move towards something meaningful that pays dividends on every level.


With much gratitude to our sources: | 3 Reasons Everyone at Google is Meditating | The Big Chill-Out-How Meditation Can Help with Everything| Richard Branson on Not Going It Alone 
The | Gods with Chequebooks
5 Core Human Drives | The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business | Why the Coach Approach Beats the Manager Mentality
With great thanks to these artists (Photo Credits):
Balancing Mind and Heart | nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo
Mountains on Hong Kong, Lantau Island |  Nathan O’Nions via photopin cc
Durdle Door | FuturePresent. via photopin cc
Disguised | bambe1964 via photopin cc
Waitingpoolski via photopin cc
Volcom Taca38 | b@nfy via photopin cc
Smile| samit4me via photopin cc
Sunset over Lake Geneva| kBandara via photopin cc
Migrant Workers| USDAgov via photopin cc
His Hand| Jlhopgood via photopin cc
Happy Sunny People| yanlev / 123RF Stock Photo