"If you're gonna tell your life story, you gotta be honest, or don't do it."
R. Kelly, American Musician
Today, in corporate and professional speaking circles, storytelling is all the rage.
This come as little surprise to me. Humans have been communicating through stories since the first cave dweller put a flame to a twig. Let’s face it, humans are storytelling machines.
People tell stories in all kinds of settings other than after the daily hunt. They tell stories at parties, while networking, in meetings, when training, on sales calls, on the phone, over a meal, and especially during job interviews. Perhaps you do as well.
A story has the power to inspire, motivate and transform its listener. The goal of a story is to convey an experience of value from one person to either another person or to many people. The purpose of the story is to either persuade, inform or entertain the listener in the process.
Regardless of the setting, the basic structure of all stories is the same with a clear beginning, middle and end. When some people speak, it is not uncommon for their story to seem fractured with disconnections between the three basic parts making it difficult to follow and hold your attention. This most commonly happens when the storyteller jumbles the order of the events within the story. It’s similar to hearing the punch line before the joke.
The best stories are the ones we cull from our mind. They’re made truly engaging when the details they contain are placed in their proper and most effective chronological order. It really helps when you are constructing a story to have a method to guide you in this process. So, today, I am offering my C.A.R. Technique to help you create and share engaging stories with your listeners.
THE C.A.R. TECHNIQUE
Whether you look at your resume or a roster of clients, every instance of experience or performance tells a story. The story has elements common to all good storytelling. By using my C.A.R. Technique you will be able to quickly construct an engaging and meaningful story with relative ease.
What does C.A.R. stand for?
C.A.R. represents the three basic elements of every experiential encounter. They are:
By simply recounting these three basic elements you can craft a story that will engage your listeners.
Let’s look at each element.
Every fictional story ever written or told begins with the lead character having to meet a great challenge. Think about the experiences you have had in your life. Without over dramatizing it, everything you have learned or mastered began as a great challenge. From learning to walk to learning to ride a bike. From getting into college to finding a job. Each experience begins with the challenge. So, does your story. So, begin your story with the challenge.
- Think about the challenge you had to meet.
- Think about how you would define the challenge.
- What were the circumstances that created the challenge?
- What was at stake if you did not meet the challenge?
- Why did you take on the challenge?
The beginning is where you build your listener’s anticipatory interest in how your story will end.
Once you have clearly established the intensity of the Challenge you will meet, you will want to move the story along by detailing the Action steps you performed.
Every summer, moviegoers stream into theaters around the world to gobble up the latest action film. Action sells, because it tantalizes the reader, viewer or listener with the possibilities of human achievement. Through the action of your story, you will inspire your listener while demonstrating your creativity, resilience, and resolve. In your story, you may not save the Universe, but you may have surpassed a sales goal, or discovered a new process for doing something, or earned the loyalty of a customer.
Remember, in every story, it’s the action that captivates, inspires and engages your listener.
Once you have detailed the action steps of your story, it is time to bring it to an end with a triumphant Result.
Think about the stories you’ve read, heard or seen. How do they end? Some stories might end with, “And they all lived happily ever after”. Others with, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” The ending justifies the meaning of the story.
Think about how you’d like your story to end. What is the one thing you’d like your listeners to remember about the story you are telling?
The ending of a story should represent a triumph of some sort. There are many varieties of triumph from the utterly spectacular to the completely amazing. The end of your story will detail the effect of the Result that came about due to the Action(s) you took to meet the Challenge you faced.
The Result need not be too long. In fact, the one thing you really don’t want to do at the end of your story is ramble on or rehash the story you’ve already told. Instead, think of how you can wrap it up in one sentences or two. Think about how you can summarize the story with a pithy line, turn of phrase, or tag line.
American Musician R. Kelly said, "If you're gonna tell your life story, you gotta be honest, or don't do it."
One of my executive speaking coaching clients was asked to deliver the keynote address at a trade conference because he had written a paper about a technical process. His first instinct was to deliver a presentation detailing the paper with lots of slides that had a ton of detail on them. After working with me, he delivered a keynote that told the story behind the paper and the process. His keynote covered the Challenge he faced, the Action steps he took and the Result he achieved.
My client’s keynote received a standing ovation and he went on to speak and travel for many years based on this one success. He succeeded because his story came from his mindful truth. He engaged his listeners by sharing the truth of his story without the need to embellish beyond the actual and the factual.
YOU CAN DO IT TOO
Click here to download my C.A.R. Technique Worksheet to help you on your way to crafting engaging stories of your own. This worksheet will help you construct clear, concise and accurate stories to support your speeches, interview responses and networking conversations.
From the beginning to the end of your story, my C.A.R. Technique can help you remain true to the details of your story while crafting an engaging experience for your listener. No speaker is ever at fault for being too truthful. In fact, there is no such thing as being “too truthful”, there is just the truth governed by a level of disclosure deemed appropriate to the situation.
When a speaker tells a story, there is only one way to tell it, honestly. As a speaker-storyteller, you will have to learn to trust the truth of your story as being important and impactful enough to warrant your listeners’ awareness, attachment and appreciation.
I trust you enjoyed learning about how you can use my C.A.R. Technique to create engaging stories for your listeners. Storytelling is a pivotal Content Creation skill enabling you to speak effectively as a thought leader, subject expert, or executive. I am grateful for your support as a reader of my blog and I welcome any comment on this post or suggestions you might have in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz