Last week I led a two-day intensive for my Advanced Group (a 10-month program for six high level coaches). Occasionally I invite guest coaches and speakers to enhance the experience of the participants.
For this session, motivational speaker and author, Tricia Downing, joined us. I’ve known Trish for years. We used to be speakers with the same speaker’s agency.
Tricia went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for her mobility. To say her story is deeply moving is an understatement. The coaches in my group were struck by her attitude, resilience and commitment to being her own inner champion.
Mostly though, they were taken by her story.
Your Story Matters
Becoming a thoughtful storyteller is important for success as a professional coach.
Stories connect us to our humanity. They zing right into our hearts and bypass our rational, logical minds. Stories inspire us to see ourselves differently—to heal, move forward, be curious, bring closer, right-size our problems, see we aren’t alone, live into new possibilities and more.
Your story doesn’t have to be as life-altering at Tricia’s to make a difference. You have your own life-altering history—and, sharing your journey will serve others.
Are you sharing your story?
If you aren’t sharing your story in enrollment conversations, with clients, while leading workshops or giving talks, on social media/in newsletters (if you like those things), you are leaving money on the table and missing opportunities to connect and serve.
If you are sharing your story, have you carved out time to work on how you share it?
How you share your story can draw people in. It can lead people to want to know more. How did you create the transformation? What steps did you take?
How you deliver your story is just as important as the story itself.
FOUR GUIDELINES FOR SUCCESSFUL STORYTELLING
1. Be the hero/heroine
In general when you share a story (be it yours or a clients) you want to be the hero/heroine of the story. The transformation that unfolded is because of you, your input and/or actions.
When it comes to your clients, of course their transformation unfolded because they took action—and, those action steps were accompanied by your encouragement, guidance, insight and support. You want to own your part fully and share how you helped your client succeed. Specifics can be helpful.
Example: In my Fierce Loving Mini-Series I share a client story where I highlight a practice I had him do daily. We called it Compassion Time—and so much of his life transformed because of this assignment. When I share this story and mention Compassion Time, people are often curious about what that means—which leads to more engagement and connection with them.
2. Highlight external/goal-line transformation
Most people are interested in transforming something outside of themselves. They think the key to their happiness comes through a number on the scale, a number in their bank account, a ring on their finger, a house, car, child, title, degree, etc.
When people hear that I went from $44K in credit card debt to earning multiple six figures in a year and a half, they often want to know more. When I speak about how I transitioned from a Broadway career to a professional coach with a thriving practice, their ears perk up. When I share about my clients who bought their first house in Los Angeles, booked their first major television gig, are living abroad for six months, restructured their team and brought in a new $1M project, or got pregnant naturally and had their first child…people listen differently.
Sharing the external win often (not always) invites someone to lean in. And, leaning in is what we want. Our profession is one that requires connection and nurturing relationships.
This doesn’t mean you leave the inner transformation in the dust. You absolutely want to include the intangible wins (emotional state, new beliefs) as well.
Side Note: If you don’t yet have a client story that features an external win, that’s ok. I didn’t have that for a period of time. Instead, you can feature the internal transformation, as well as share your own story that highlights both internal and external transformation. The time will come when you have client stories that highlight significant goal line wins.
3. Be a story collector (Over time)
You will likely talk to many different people from many different backgrounds throughout your life as a professional coach. Having a story ready that speaks to someones experience facilitates ease in connecting.
If you’re going to an event for parents, a story about a client’s parenting journey (or your own) could be helpful. If you’re attending a conference for entrepreneurs, you want to talk about your own entrepreneurial journey or that of a clients. If you’re in a meeting for executives…you get the picture.
Building your story repertoire doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. The longer you serve as a professional coach, the more stories you have to share. Having a focus on collecting stories will be an asset in your work.
How we get good at anything is through practice. Storytelling is no different.
Choose a story that speaks to you—could be yours or a clients. Carve out time to think about the key parts of the story. (What is the point? What do you want people to take away from hearing it? What was life like before? What was the inciting/triggering incident? What was the result?)
Taking time to be thoughtful about your story development is essential. Knowing how to structure a story so that it’s the most impactful to the listener is super valuable. (Resources on that below.)
I did more dedicated story development in the beginning of growing my practice. Now I revisit the steps of story structure when I’m preparing a talk, scripting a video or wanting to be more intentional about the impact of a story.
CRAFT YOUR STORY (AKA STORY STRUCTURE)
Storytelling is an art. One that takes time to master.
If you’ve never spent time learning the most effective ways to structure a story I highly recommend checking out one (if not all) of the resources below.
- Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling by Michael Dicks
- Do Story: How to Tell Your Story So the World Listens by Bobette Buster
- How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth by The Moth (Many Contributors)
I hope this article is causing you to think about your story differently—and how to use it to more fully serve your clients and community.
If you’re inspired to take action after reading this piece, tell me. What are you taking away from this article?
Wishing you greater ease and confidence in sharing your story.
With Fierce Loving,
Photo by Courtney Lindberg Photography