Some people would rather act first and leave the talking to others. But leaders are only leaders if they can inspire followers.
Stories are the best shortcut to synchronize minds. A colorful example can cut through misunderstandings and illuminate a leader’s hopes, fears and instructions. A great story can inspire people to zig where they might have instead zagged.
“One of my strongest beliefs is that how we communicate directly links to how we operate,” said Ryan Avery, a speaker at the 2021 MDRT Annual Meeting Virtual Event. “If you have poor communication skills, you’re going to have poor operations skills.”
A champion speaker, Avery has literally built a career out of telling stories. He says storytelling is a skill that can be learned by anyone. All it takes is practice.
“How can we be the most motivating person in the room?” Avery asked. “First, we can be better storytellers.”
Avery recommends developing a story bank of examples that capture key lessons essential for success. Imagination and experience are two rich veins to mine for story material.
To give stories impact, center them around universal themes. Avery singles out fear, failure and family as especially salient themes to build around. Every story he tells will touch on at least one of these three.
Avery recommends taking time to brainstorm a new story idea every month, or at least jot down ideas on an app or in a notebook whenever they occur.
“At the beginning of the month, I pick my story,” he said. “Am I good when I begin telling it? No, I’m developing it, but why do I do this? Because at the end of the year, I will have 12 great stories.”
Force yourself to return to the idea and expand it out into a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. The final product becomes a hook to capture the imaginations of listeners and keep them reflecting on your message long after it’s been delivered. If you’re a leader and you’d like to join MDRT Global Services or learn more about the 2021 MDRT Annual Meeting Virtual Event, please click here.
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