Which Comes First- The Story or the Point? Storytelling in Business

Which Comes First- The Story or the Point? Storytelling in Business

Doug, sometimes I have a story that Iíve
realized over time could be a good story, and other times I have a point that I need
to make. But when you are putting it all together, which comes first ñ the story or the point
that youíre going to make with it? Thank you for that question. That was a great
question, and itís a challenge that many people have. Hereís my answer: it depends.
Itís really situational. Sometimes, something is going to happen to you in your life and
within a day or two afterward youíre going to be thinking: this is a good story! You
immediately have to ask yourself, whatís the point? Is there a lesson here I can use
within the context of my topicÖwhat I want to talk aboutÖwhat Iím going to say in the
next meeting that I am going to be leading? So sometimes the story comes first but we
immediately go to whatís the point? More often than not in my world I am looking for
a story to fit a point. If Iím developing a leadership program, Iím going to sit down
and strategically chooseÖI want to talk about this, this, this, this and this. And Iíll
choose my five main points. Iíll immediately go to Phrase that Pays and then Iíll start
looking for what is the story that will teach this? What is the story that will teach this?
Do I have that story from my life? Now if I donít have a story from my life I go out
into the world and I start doing some research. But 80% of the stories that I tell, if not
90% of the stories that I tell, are personal from my life experience. Regardless of whether
the story comes first, or the point comes first, there has to be a point ñ otherwise
whatís the point? So it really depends. As an example: when
I had the airport story happen to me and I missed the shuttlebus – and I was really frustrated
and I got a ride in a limo – because I live in story, the metaphor of what took place
was immediately evident to me. Literally on the plane the next day Iím thinking, now
thatís really interesting, I was really frustrated about missing the shuttlebus and now here
I am getting a ride in a limo. Now thatís a metaphor for something. And when I came
up with Look for the Limo, itís like, the story came first, the point evolved later.
When I went streaking in Hollywood, I can tell you for a fact, the next day, while I
was hanging drywall, I was thinking, I finally have some standup comedy material. Now unfortunately
I did not know how to tell it. And this is the truth of the Story Theater Method and
the evolution of it. After the streaking story I finally took everybodyís advice and I went
to the Comedy Club up on Sunset Strip and I did open mic night and I told the streaking
story. I stood still at a microphone, microphone on a stand, microphone right here. I stood
still at it and I told the story and I did not move and I took about 4 minutes and I
told the story and nobody laughed and I thought, I need a better audience. So I went to the
improv on Melrose the famous improv comedy club, open mic night. Now you might not know
this about open mic night but you donít get to choose your time slot. You know what time
slot I got? 1:50 am. 10 minutes before closing, 2 drunks sitting way off in the dark I did
my streaking story. Of course no laughter because they werenít paying any attention
to me they were drunks in the back of the room, everybody else had left. Ok Iím speaking
to a dark room. I need a better audience for sure now. I went to another comedy club same
result. I went to another comedy club same result. I did five comedy clubs standing still
at a microphone telling the story and I never got a laugh and I concluded from that experience
Iím not funny. Iím just not funny, the storyís funny but Iím not. If Iím in Shakespeare
and you give me a role I can be funny but if its just Doug I donít know how to be funny.
So what happened is 10 years later Iíve left Hollywood Iím not an actor any more Iím
giving a speech on presentation skills at the Pikes Peak Library in Colorado Springs
and out of my mouth pops the words you wanna hear a funny story? It was a hot, sticky Wednesday
night and all of a sudden Iím doing the story and Iím running around Iím going through
all this activity and while Iím doing the story people are laughing so hard they are
crying. Tears are coming down peopleís faces. They are loud. And here I am doing this and
at the same time I am going, this is pretty cool I donít know what the heck this is but
this is pretty cool. That night on the way home I realized in Hollywood I told the story,
at the Pikes Peak Library District I went streaking. And that was the beginning of Story
Theater. I didnít know it but I realized this is the Genesis. You donít talk about
going streaking, you streak. You donít talk about riding a bike, you ride a bike. You
donít talk about getting your luggage at the luggage carousel, you get your luggage
at the luggage carousel. And Story Theater was born. Now the streaking story happened
and I had to figure out whatís the point. The point has changed over the years. The
airport story happened and I had to figure out whatís the point. The point evolved over
the years. Iíve done each of those stories at least 600 times. But they are not set.
In most cases for you I want you to consider this. Think about your speech, think about
your presentation and decide what are the learning points that I need to teach? The
challenge with far too many of my students is they start out and they go I got this great
story and I go okay good what are you gonna use it for? But itís funny! What are you
gonna use it for? Weíre talking storytelling in business, weíre talking corporate America,
weíre talking associations that are paying big money for this kind of stuff. They want
results. They donít really want stories, they want results. What are you gonna use
it for? Whatís the utility? Story is a tool. So which comes first, the story or the point?
It depends. However you better know that this story is a strategic tool that I can use to
do this one thing brilliantly. Nobody else can do your story. They can try. But they
canít outdo your story. Differentiation in the marketplace, uniqueness of content, thatís
what its all about. Content is not king, uniqueness of content is king. Originality of content
is king. You can be amazing if you have your own stories.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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