The Hidden Value of Your Stories

Do you have a secret stash of dinner party stories, or stories you tell friends in a bar, or to entertain a date?

I'm talking about those stories that you know inside and out; the really good ones that people beg you to tell over and over. And after you pretend to NOT want to - you turn a tale loose and leave people laughing, crying -- or sitting in amazement.

All good storytellers have these -- but what many don't realize is all the hidden value that a collection of stories with a common theme can have.

My speaking students are often amazed to find out that their crazy boss stories, the drunken family vacation stories, or the story of how they survived an illness (or their childhood) often have a message that goes much deeper than just entertaining a few friends. And, when they harness that message, and frame it properly, it can be a message that businesses will pay a lot to hear.

In the speaking class I'm teaching now, I have a student who works in the transit system. She has hilarious stories about nightmare bus riders. And now she's putting a collection of them together to create a fabulous speech about using humor to deal with difficult people. Her speech is not only hysterical, but it's got great on the nose content that would be of value not just to bus drivers -- but to ANYONE who has to deal with the public. So her potential audience would be ...hmm, let me see...everyone?

Another student is an actress, with wonderful stories about auditioning for commercials. Appearing in over 200 commercials has made her an expert on how to interview to win and wow all the audiences of your life. Once we framed what she knew with that "just right" wording in that last sentence, she realized how valuable her experience is -- not only for actors - but also for anyone who wants to get a job, land a promotion, win over a jury, or just impress a date. (That would again be... everyone!)

We've all learned something from our years on this planet. Even small day-to-day struggles of overcoming obstacles and having success often have hidden treasure in them that can be of value to others -- and that corporations and organizations will pay to hear. I call that the "Message of You," and when we share that message (whether we get paid or not), we all can make a difference in someone else's life.

Are you ready to find your message?

Here's a quick exercise from my new book, "The Speaker's Bible: Make a Career Out of the Message of You" (St. Martin's Press, 2013):

EXERCISE: Discover Your Message by Asking Your Tribe

In this exercise, I want you to ask your closest friends, your family members, and your co-workers two questions:

"What have you learned from me?" and "What are the stories I tell over and over again?"

When you ask the people in your life these questions, you're going to be very surprised by the responses you get. Try it and find the theme - and the value -- of "The Message of You."
- Judy Carter

Author of The Comedy Bible, Motivational-Humorist, and Comedy Coach. Coming in 2013 "Make a Career Out of The Message of You." 

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.