Quick. What’s your story? [part 1]
Do you ever dread going to parties or work events? Dropped into a scarily unfamiliar postcode, far from your comfort zone, you are forced to converse with people you don’t know very well or at all.
Fear not! I have just the tip that is even more effective than getting drunk and talking so much no one else can get a word in edgewise (and trust me, I’ve tried both).
Maybe the drinking helps but, I’ve never been much of a wall-flower. Once I warm up, I normally enjoy nearly all gatherings. However, in the past, when faced with a roomful of people or a cornered by one person I don’t know, I have been known to armour up with an loner persona that is about as far from the usual me as I can get.
The good new (for me at least) is she hasn’t reared her frosty head for quite some time ever since I had an epiphanous moment thanks to my husband.
My other half is by no means exceptionally confident in social situations or anywhere close to being an extraverted show off but he will always leave any such an event knowing a shed-load about anyone there. He’ll also usually end up having a pretty good time regardless of whether or not he wanted to be there in the first place.
And here’s why: he asks questions. Lots of questions.
He’s a details person and the more detailed details he finds out about other people, the more questions he asks. ? He doesn’t worry whether or not his questions seem too personal, dumb, politically incorrect or uncool (they aren’t), but it wouldn’t matter if they were because he gets people talking about themselves and telling stories. And who doesn’t love that?
It’s not unusual for my husband to come home with a boxset of interesting stories about the careers, families, art collections, car troubles, meat curing hobbies, you name it ... of someone he met that day. It’s kind of novel, really.
I miss stories
It’s rare to hear a good story in everyday life. Information today is disseminated in packeted snippets: tweets, SMSes, sound bites, click throughs, bulletins, summaries, bullet points, at a glance, voice mail, acronyms, DM, IM (overwhelmed with information!)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a fan of snippets and short blocks of wording. Despite the fact I make my living from writing things for other people to take notice of, I tell every single one of my clients, ‘Less is more. People have too much to read today. Don’t give them any more than you need to.’
But, a story is a different thing. Theoretically, a good story could be just a click, an email or a cuppa away. But it rarely is. A good story is hard to find.
And parents, whether we like it or not, our stories about our kids are very rarely riveting. Depending on who we’re talking to, little snippets about our moppets might be interesting (at best) or informative but they’re seldom spellbinding narratives. Just because I want the world and its Twitter followers to know that my children are ridiculously cute and highly, intellectually advanced (yeah they are), unless I can illustrate my claims with a story that entertains or builds intrigue, anyone that is not my immediate family may struggle to actually even want to hear what I have to say.
Same goes with your business. You might do what you do better than any of your competitors but to reel in clientele you’re going to have to come up with something a little more compelling than a big statement of your (alleged) greatness.
Next time you’re feeling unsure of how you could put your services out there, consider the possibility that a little story might help throw some genuine curiosity your way.
The first question to ask is
what’s your story? what’s your customer’s story?
Tomorrow, I will share a few simple ways one business is making All About Me, all about their clients, and they are looking good.