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The DNA of Storytelling

by admin

November 10, 2014

I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck tingle, as I listened to Ben talk about the miraculous rescue he received one snowy, frigid night as he sat buckled in his seat submerged upside down in his truck in the Nepisiguit River. The sincerity and emotion filled the room and held us spellbound as we listened, transfixed as this gentle, powerful man told his story.

When Marjolaine told about how clearly she remembered the chickens in the yard the day her best friend was killed by a drunk driver, she captured our hearts as well as our heads as she made a passionate plea against driving while under the influence.

Then there was Greg who trudged into our minds as he talked about the incredible loneliness of being lost in the forest in northern Quebec and the determination and focus it took to find his way out a week later.

The thing I LOVE about my work is the incredible sense of completion I get as I listen to and coach people to tell their story.

And everyone has a story… yes, even you.


Stories are our Brands

If you look carefully enough when people tell their story, you see parts of them they have hidden, or forgotten about, probably for years and it’s held them back from reaching their full potential. As a coach, my role is to help them to see this gift they have forgotten about and encourage them to give themselves permission to access it. That is when the transformation buds and sends out fruit in the way of poise, courage and confidence. When we feel comfortable with the telling of it, our story has the potential to change lives and fuel movements. In effect, our stories are our brands.

They’ve always been there; we just didn’t know it or how to use them.



Each story has it’s own DNA that is unique to both the teller and the audience. It’s the way the storyteller moves, his actions, his congruence with his message and conversely, it’s the way it (the story) makes us feel, and how it invades our thinking until we can think of nothing else except the point that the teller left us with.

This is mental and emotional dynamite, when used in the right way.

When telling a story, you must examine its structure and purpose and discover the DNA within:

Details – make sure you include the who, what, when, why etc. to set the scene, explain a point and create an image. Stories are most powerful when they outline the “how” and “what” through talking about the “why”. It provides the listener a reason to care.

Narrative – This is the context of the talk where you bring in the conflict, how it was resolved, the complications and the conclusion.

Action – What points do you want us to take away, what do you want us to do as a result of your story? What actions do you foresee your audience pursuing as a result of witnessing your talk?

But, knowing this isn’t enough. It’s what you do with your story that determines its worth and your authenticity.


Why Tell A Story?

In the 25 plus years I’ve had the privilege to be a story-coach, I’ve seen literally thousands of people tell their story and be totally unaware of how powerful it actually is. Every civilization and every faith structure of this spinning rock has its groundings in the stories that have been told and retold over millennia: in fact, they count on it! Without stories, there’s no emotion, passion or belief: all we have are limp words decomposing before the sound of them dies.

Even your business, which has products and services to sell, has a story that people connect with, and if you are not telling the story, people will make up their own based on facts that they either invent or assume. If you are wondering why people don’t shop at your store or purchase your products, examine the story that you are telling with the words or actions of your employees.

A finely crafted story could actually make a business, a career or even a relationship. It all depends on what your say and how you tell the story.


Own Your Story

Don’t leave your future to chance. Own your story: It may sometimes seem like everyone else’s, but it is unique to you and no one else, and only you have the right and the ability to tell it the way it needs to be told.

As the singer Amanda Marshall so brilliantly said in her song “Everybody’s Got A Story”, So dig deep, Deeper than the image that you see, Lift the film and let your true self breath, Show the world the beauty underneath.

And if you’ve ever heard someone tell you a passionate story about how they overcame adversity or illness or even climbed a mountain, then you already know that there is really beauty underneath the surface waiting to be told.

It’s completely up to you to unearth and discover the story you want to tell about who you are and what you stand for.

Your story can move mountains; after all, it moved yours didn’t it?

Will you choose to tell us?

We need to hear you.

I need to hear you.

~ Paul Kearley
Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie Business Group – Maritimes Division
(506) 432-6500 / spaulkearley@gmail.com

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