Being raised in the South, I grew up hearing colorful stories that invariably teach powerful lessons. Whether you’re a Southern lady, a beginning network marketer, or seasoned networking leader, you know success often starts with a good story that paints a picture which results in modifying behavior.

Stories that are authentic, founded in experience, and rich with emotion can have a profound effect on the listener. A well-crafted story can help a salesperson, speaker, teacher, or just about anyone else eager to bring people around to their way of thinking.

Once when I was delivering a keynote for a terrific network marketing audience, I was thrilled to see one of my old friends from elementary school in the crowd. He came up to me after the event to share his appreciation for my message and his pride at seeing me “giving my all” to the group before me.

We had a few laughs and then he asked me a question I’ll never forget. He said, “Rita, you’re a great speaker and it’s obvious you enjoy helping others by what you do. But what would you do if you couldn’t be a speaker?”

At that moment something happened that rarely occurs to the likes of me. I didn’t have an answer! It did make me think. This is my life’s purpose and how I earn a living. I realized I did not have a backup plan in case something happened to my primary source of income and fulfillment.

That profound illumination led me to commit to network marketing as my plan B. If I could teach others to share the tools and messages I had learned, I could then duplicate myself. I would have my plan B as I was helping others develop their own plan B. It was a win-win situation. The greatest accomplishment anyone can ever have is to empower others to learn more, be more, do more, and earn more, so they can share more.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to spotlight who you are and the products you’d like to share. I often coach people to stop selling and start sharing. Who shows up at a dinner party with scripted notes? Simply start your presentation with a story. Wrap it around an experience. Involve people in your message. Then give them the solutions you found that will make their lives better.

Make them laugh and they’ll learn more. Retention is improved with humor.

Know how you’re going to close. Once captivated by a well-crafted story, people are receptive to a call to action.

Don’t worry about being perfect—it’s hard to relate to perfect.

Be yourself. Be authentic. Share your stories. Have fun with them. More often than not, your listeners will have fun too and get their own results.

Now find your favorite easy chair, curl up with this issue, and prepare to take flight with some gifted storytellers.

RITA DAVENPORT is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author,
and former president of a leading network marketing company.