It’s the way I tell ‘em (why it matters in business)

(blog from Andrew Thorp)

Frank Carson passed away today. One of the finest comedians of his time, the Irishman was widely known for his catchphrase, “It’s the way I tell ‘em!” I couldn’t agree more, and it’s a principle that business people need to embrace when they’re presenting themselves. It’s not just the facts of what we say that matters. It’s the ‘story’ and the way we say it that creates impact.

Here’s something that happened to us at MojoLife last year:

We were exhibiting MojoLife at Olympia. TV Dragon Peter Jones came by the stand. He asked us about what we did. We explained it for a few minutes and then he left.

That’s what happened, but it doesn’t constitute a story. Try this…

We had a stand at a business show at Olympia in London last July. It was our last day and there was a rumour that TV Dragon Peter Jones was in the building. Being fans of the show, we really wanted to meet him and when some advance security men bustled nervously nearby, speaking into their wrists, we suspected our moment had come. This skyscraper of a man rounded the corner and walked down our aisle. Now I don’t like mithering famous people, and when he walked past our stand looking the wrong way I thought our chance had gone. But my business partner Sara has no such qualms. “Oi, Peter,” she yelled (not quite but words to that effect). He ambled over, and while Sara explained what we did I admired his expensive suit and tie and wondered when my moment would come. Turning to me, he then said something that utterly threw me. “So your business shrinks,” said the Dragon. My mind was a whirl. “Oh God, he’s spotted a flaw in the business plan…this is what his sort do…see through the cracks, spot the weaknesses…we’re doomed, DOOMED!” In fact, what he’d said was “So you’re business shrinks.” (ie psychologists!). We all had a giggle about it, I wrote a blog about the encounter and lo and behold he forwarded it to his followers – 300,000 of them! That’s the power and reach of social media.

I know it’s longer than the factual version, but if you have the floor for a business presentation and want to incorporate stories to make a point, the audience will lap up a well-told story that makes an insightful point. Think about a 5-stage process.

  1. Mine your experience for interesting encounters.
  2. Establish a link (perhaps a metaphorical one) with a point you want to make (eg the business relevance of social media).
  3. Craft the story.
  4. Practise telling it and weaving it into a presentation.
  5. Start doing it, learning and improving.

It’s sad that Frank Carson has passed on, but he’s left a tremendous legacy behind him – a lot of happy people and some memorable stories. As a skilled storyteller he would add texture, embellish, use great vocal timing, dramatise scenes and entertain. If we could tell ‘em like Frank did, we’d be more persuasive when we present.

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About Mojo Your Business

Mojo Your Business is an innovative training & consultancy company based in Manchester, UK. We're passionate about helping businesses and individuals perform better through effective communication. We specialise in corporate storytelling and how it applies to internal and external communication (employee relations, employability skills, leadership, relationship building, sales, marketing and public relations). More at http://mojoyourbusiness.com/
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