How to Unlock Your Storytelling Genius

Last night I had the high honor of hearing Michaela Murphy speak at my favorite place to connect with like minded professional women, Cindy Tortorici’s The Link for Women’s monthly event.  Michaela is a master storyteller whose work has been featured on NPR, Off-Broadway, The Moth Mainstage, and the Clinton White House and in The New Yorker, while her talents as a digital storyteller and social media guide have produced both happy clients and measurable results.

What I found the most fascinating from all the juicy tips that I am about to share from her was her observation that we often dismiss the part of ourselves that we are most gifted. This is a lesson she learned when she first began her career. She believes that what impedes many of us from being more vocal and forthcoming about this one particular ‘gift’ is our fear of being dismissed and as a result being ‘crushed’ by this rejection (because we know it is our core strength). Michaela went on to explain that as she has matured and developed a stronger ‘ego’, she is now very comfortable sharing her gifts and not being wounded by potential rejection or dismissal, etc.  What do you think?  Do you think that you refrain from deeper and more revealing storytelling in order to protect and cover parts of yourself that you are perhaps ashamed of, don’t understand or are protective of?  Well, read on…..

Here are some of the key takeaways that I learned from her:

Every story should have a CONFLICT, CLIMAX and REUNION

Begin with a hook-and establish it and the tone of your story in the first three sentences.  After delivering the first three lines, pause, let the audience ‘come in’

SHOW rather than TELL-tell a descriptive story rather than give an example.

Keep it ACTIVE

Make every word COUNT

Communicate from within to my audience WHY I do what I do, what the work I do DOES for me on an emotional level. What’s the tipping point of my work-where people get what I do?

Every story should have a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning is the set up and hook (only share what the audience needs to know, which may mean omitting characters and condensing time). The middle is where you spend the bulk of your story-delivering the action and the climax.  The end is the climax and the denouement.

When you tell YOUR STORY, start with what scares you. Where is the resistance? What is something you have done that you can’t understand? Share something risky for you.

Thank you Michaela, Cindy and Natalie Molina Nino for making this event happen!

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3 Responses to How to Unlock Your Storytelling Genius

  1. Michaela says:

    Thank you, Katie. It was such a pleasure to be in a room with so many amazing women. Loved meeting you and can’t wait until next time. Awesome blog post!

    • You were beyond inspiring. It reminded me of a course I took at Smith College called “Narrative Therapy” that I took to become a psychotherapist. So powerful. Look forward to staying in touch. Be well Michaela!

  2. Nathalie says:

    You’re very welcome 🙂 I love Michaela and her inspiring story!

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