A few days ago I received a message from a network marketing professional named Paula who described how a story I had told at a Mastermind event seven years ago had inspired her to take action and changed her life.
You can read my story in Beach Money Chapter 3, “It rained on my dreams that day.”
I was at a low point in my life. Nothing was working. I was feeling so depressed that I decided to walk the railroad tracks behind the rental I was living in. It was raining and cold. I wasn’t going to take any desperate action, but was trying to figure things out. I had remembered reading about the importance of writing out your perfect life as if it had already happened. I had never done this. The next day I took the day off from work and went to the Grand Canyon. The beauty of the place inspired me to write...
When Paula heard me tell this story, it moved her. At a low point in her life, the day after the event she took the same action I had taken, and three years later her life was transformed forever.
What are some of the components of an impactful story? I’d like to cover nine of them. No need to include all these traits; two or three will suffice to create a memorable story.
1. Share the Drama
People are riveted by drama.
“She had never experienced success in network marketing.”
“He had been in eleven companies and never signed up a single distributor.”
“She took the bus to work for three years because she couldn’t afford to fix her car.”
2. Make It Personal
“I didn’t have the money to sign up, so I had a garage sale.”
“I sold my TV, which turned out to be best decision I ever made.”
“My whole family told me no!” (There is drama here, too.)
3. Stimulate the Senses
When I wrote the Venice Beach story in Beach Money, my intention was to stimulate your senses so you could experience the fullness of the moment:
As the sun was setting, an intensely cold wind started wildly blowing the palm trees around. The sun was fading and orange as it made contact with the ocean. Two homeless men, one on a grand piano and another on a guitar, soulfully and loudly played Hallelujah. A crowd of about 500 people gathered around some sort of event on the boardwalk that had attracted four police cars and what seemed like the entire Police Department. As all of this was occurring, a loud helicopter hovered a few hundred feet off the ground circling the whole event. We experienced the deepest feeling of life upon us as a mixture of music, weather, machine and humanity converging in a moment of intensity like neither of us had ever witnessed...
4. Align, then Challenge
First position yourself so that the listener or reader knows you are just like them. People will be more engaged if they feel you know them. Next, challenge them with new ideas.
“I realized the plan I had been following for over ten years wasn’t working. The model I had been taught in high school and college was a complete flop. I began to study people who had college degrees and had been working jobs for forty years. Their lives were a financial mess.”
5. What’s the Point?
Ask yourself what message you are trying to convey. For this article, I wanted to show you that a story is the best way to get a message across and what components make up a great story.
6. Use Metaphors
A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated subject.
Your business grows as an oak tree grows. It starts as an acorn. Not all acorns germinate, but if you sow enough seeds and the ground is fertile, a few will take root. Some will turn into giant oak trees and others will wither and die. With enough sowing, you may end up with a forest. You can count the acorns in a tree, but you can’t count the trees in an acorn!
7. Amazing but True
When you experience something amazing, share it. Movie director Ron Howard uses the amazing-but-true formula to determine if he is going to take on a movie. He does focus groups with young people who don’t know the true story he is thinking about directing. Only if they tell him the story is not believable or sounds too good to be true does he feel it will be dramatic enough to move forward.
8. Meaningful to You
If a story is meaningful to you, then you’ll have passion for it. Passion is always a component of a great story. When something moves me, I share it if it’s relevant to my audience.
9. Relevant to the Listener
If I tell a young person that network marketing is a great vehicle to prepare for retirement, that’s not relevant. But if I say that network marketing is a great way to retire before they hit the age of twenty-six so they won’t have to be in a rocking chair before they can enjoy life, that’s much more relevant. Consider your audience when telling a story.
Did you notice how in the beginning I borrowed Paula’s story (with her permission) to make my point? People remember stories. If seven years ago I had just told the attendees at the Mastermind event what to do, Paula probably wouldn’t have done it. But because I shared my personal story and the impact it had on my life, she was moved to take action. The story was meaningful to me and many people in the crowd connected to it, including Paula. She created her own personal story, shared it with me in a post, and now I have shared it with you. Telling a story is the best way to make your point and inspire others to act.
JORDAN ADLER is a network marketing leader and bestselling author of Beach Money: Creating Your Dream Life through Network Marketing.