S. 2 Ep. 33 – The You, It, And Them Of Storytelling

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 2 Ep 33 - The You, It, And Them Of Storytelling with SpeakerFlow and Kelly Swanson

In this week’s episode, we’ve brought in Storytelling expert, Kelly Swanson, to share with us her 3-part storytelling framework, The Persuasion Principle.

Now, we’re not just talking about sales here in the context of persuasion. Persuasion simply means guiding people to take action, to believe in what you’re saying, and to be moved by it.

As speakers, your entire job is to master the art of persuasion so that when you’re up on stage, people transform, so that your clients by from you, and so that you change lives.

After decades of perfecting storytelling and helping thousands of people refine their stories, Kelly’s found the blueprint to all amazing stories and today, she’s breaking that down for us.

So, without further ado, let’s do this thing, shall we?

See you in there!

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Show Notes 📓

✅ Check out kellysfreegift.com to download Kelly’s story resources. Seriously, click the link!

📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/

🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking, we’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin, and today we are talking about the ‘you’, ‘it’, and ‘them’ of storytelling. Now, we’ve brought in storytelling, expert Kelly Swanson to share with us her three-part storytelling framework, The Persuasion Principle. Now, we’re not just talking about sales here in the context of persuasion. Persuasion simply means guiding people to take action, to believe in what you’re saying, and to be moved by it. And as speakers, your entire job is to master the art of persuasion so that when you’re up on stage, people transform, and so that when your clients buy from you, and so that you change lives. 

Now, after decades of perfecting storytelling and helping thousands of people refine their stories, Kelly’s found the blueprint to all amazing stories and today she’s breaking that down with us. So, without further ado, let’s do this thing, shall we? As always stick around until the end for some awesome resources and we hope you like this one.

Austin: I think we’re live. We’re live.

Taylorr: Yay. Woo. We made it so good to be here. Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kelly: Nice to be here.

Taylorr: Do we have some stuff cooking today.

Austin: We do. Man, you guys, very excited. We usually are. I’ve noticed that we have this pattern.

Taylorr: Yeah. We always say excited, right? Is that what we say?

Austin: Yeah. We start our podcast, we’re like, this is and always is a great episode.

Kelly: Well, what if you started your podcast by, well; this is the best we could get on short notice.

Taylorr: Why don’t we start over, that’s what we’ll say?

Kelly: It’s going to be alright, it’s probably going to suck, but we do the best we can. What else are you going to do?

Taylorr: Yes, what else can you do? Do the best we can with the time and energy we have.

Austin: That’s right. Is this a storytelling mechanism? Maybe we need to create some drama, like, you don’t know what you’re going to get today, you guys, this could be an amazing show, or it could be horrible.

Kelly: No, I hate it when people introduce me on stage and they’re like, she’s so funny, she’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m like, why did y’all do that? It’s like building media. You go, eh, it’s alright, and the people are like, no, it was great. It was great.

Taylorr: Under-promise, over-deliver. It’s very simple.

Austin: Yep. And this is true.

Kelly: I had one guy introduce me and say, this is Kelly Swanson, and she’s the best we could find for 50 bucks. And then he stepped off.

Taylorr: Nice.

Kelly: And that’s whoever’s the best intro ever.

Austin: Oh, yeah.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah.

Austin: Noted. Wow. Taylorr, we have to take that to the bank right there, because that was a good tip.

Taylorr: Okay, let’s do it.

Austin: Okay. So, Kelly.

Taylorr: Back to our next guest.

Austin: Right? Yeah. Me too. Yeah. God bless them. Thank you for whoever it is. Shay Wheat, I think, Shay. You heard it here first. Okay. So, we want to talk about storytelling, obviously. You’re a guru in this space, but lots of the people listening.

Kelly: Wait, I thought this podcast was my body and myself.

Taylorr: Oh, we’re switching it up on you, sorry. Putting you on the spot.

Austin: No. Yeah. Probably a bunch of our listeners already know you, so no introductions may be needed. But anyway, before we get into that, we work with you, so we kind of have some insider knowledge, but on your website, there’s a whole section about Prides Hollow. Which is so cool, it’s like you living out your expertise in a lot of ways, so can you just fill us in, what’s up with Prides Hollow?

Kelly: Okay. I’m glad you think it’s cool and y’all rock, by the way, I love you, I just cannot love Speaker Flow enough, I know I’m probably not supposed to plug, but I just have to say that. And hopefully, you’ll help me, I have total brand A.D.D., whoever’s listening. As I refuse to pick a lane, I refuse to pick one place to be, I want to be a trainer one day, I want to be a coach one day, I want to be Prides Hollow the other day and it’s all over the place and y’all are helping me get clarity, but I’m not going to change anything because it’s what I love to do. 

And anybody listening knows storytelling is in my blood, I am an artist, and from day one I created a town, and all these characters who live there are very, don’t say they’re not real, it’s very real in my head. And I’ve always wanted to be like Garrison Keillor’s, ‘Lake Wobegon’. And I just, I am alive, when I’m in that town as editor of the Gazette, telling you their stories. Yes, I’m part of it. Weaving it into a keynote is where I’m really moving with it. And, yeah, that’s basically, it’s weird, it’s different, I don’t know if I was a consumer, if I’d want to listen to that, but I am having a ball, living my best life. 

And for speakers, listening, maybe some of you can really resonate, because I always say, I’m the artist first. I’m that artist who offers coaching, who offers training; I will never look like a full-time trainer. I always want to live in that, what do they say? The place of your highest energy and your highest joy is writing stories, telling them, getting on that stage and Prides Hollow’s delicious, things like the dead body in the sanctuary or Granny [Jane – 4:58] just had an episode in the antacid aisle of the Piggly Wiggly. And I don’t have time to tell you all about it, but her medication, I’m just going to say one line, her medication that they put in this big font so she could read said, take one pill daily, whore.

Austin: It’s dicey.

Kelly: W H O R E, whore. It said that right there, she about had a hissy fit. Anyway, long story short, it was a mistake. It was a typo, it was supposed to say, take one pill whole, but we all thought the pharmacist said, call my Granny Ray a prostitute.

Taylorr: Man, Austin, I’m really glad we added the explicit label lately. So.

Austin: Yes.

Taylorr: Free and clear.

Kelly: Oh, is that a bad word?

Austin: You’ve been warned.

Taylorr: No, it’s not a bad word. No, no.

Austin: Not here at least.

Taylorr: So.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Kelly, how did storytelling come into your life? Can you just fill us in?

Kelly: It’s weird.

Taylorr: Why did you end up here? Yeah, I would imagine, but.

Kelly: And none of us, I bet on this call, set out to be, especially if you’re a motivational speaker, I’m going to motivate people, and that’s like an 11-year-old saying, I’m going to be an influencer. Okay, yeah, that’s great, go ahead. You’ve lived 11 years.

Taylor: Go do that.

Kelly: Yeah. No. It was a weird series of events, Taylorr and Austin, and I’ll cut right to it. I was an English major, with no idea what I wanted to be. A business future for me and a career were not part of the plan, I was going to get married, have kids, whatever. So, I majored in English, because what else should I major in, okay, that’ll be good enough. I took a writing class with a bunch of teachers after I graduated college. And I was telling them the stories of the people in this town. And they said, wow, your story is, but with the way you tell it it’s even better, would you come tell it to our school? 

And I was like, eckkkk. Hey, kids are great, but telling stories to kids, whatever. They’re like, we’ll pay you. And I’m like, okay, beer money. So, II went and told it to the kids and the teachers were lighting up in the background, they were getting the jokes, they were getting the, and a lady just said, you’re a storyteller. And I’m like, what does that even mean? Fell into that whole world, saw Garrison Keillor, saw the National Storytelling Festival. I was like, oh my gosh, that’s what I want to be, when I grow up, I want to be a storyteller. Well, that doesn’t pay anything, or very little. It’s a hobbyist. And then 18 years ago I met Jeanne Robertson at an event.

And she came up to me and said, you need to take who you are, and she knew about the characters and the town. And she said, you need to go in the speaking business, this is the world that’s going to pay you to do this. And y’all, this is a sad story with a happy ending. I stepped into our association and into this industry 18 years ago with this whole delicious town, all these characters, a clear vision of what I wanted to do. And I said, uh oh, it’s too different, it’s too weird, nobody’s going to buy this, and I buried all of them. And I became a canned package; now, I became very successful at it. 

But how sad is that story that I thought it’s too weird, it’s too different and during COVID, even though the characters would peek out in little ways, during COVID I went, you know what? Life is short, the clock is ticking, I’ve been blessed by having enough business to keep the lights on. I’m going to do what I want to do now. And I’m going to dig all these dead people back up and I’m going to go rebrand this, at however old I am, Bill, how old am I, 53, 54? I might be 55. No, I think I’m 52, maybe 53. And it’s maybe starting over or whatever, you didn’t know that was going to be such a long-winded answer, but that is.

Taylorr: Oh, I love it.

Kelly: The truth of where I am in my life today.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: Such a great story.

Taylorr: What a great story.

Austin: I know.

Kelly: Well, and as it turned out. Here’s the twist I didn’t see coming. Speakers kept coming to me 18 years ago, going, well, how do we tell stories as you do? How do we make them cry? How do we make them laugh? How do we do what you’re doing with that audience? I was like, I don’t know. I’m at the mercy of my muse and then I would help them, and they’d end up sounding like me and 18 years later, it turns out I’m really, really, really good at showing people what I’m doing. 

And figuring out, well, what are the patterns? What are the formulas? What are the pieces? How do they do it in their way? How do they do it in their way? How do you do it? And anyway, I’m sure you’ll get to that, but that’s where I stumbled into this, oh my gosh, my art has turned out to be something of amazing value to people.

Austin: Man.

Kelly: Other than just entertainment.

Austin: So, powerful, man. That’s what you want, right? That’s the whole point of this whole experience is to create lots of value and do stuff that you love. You’re riding that sweet, no better way.

Kelly: And change lives.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Kelly: Everybody on here, everybody in your audience wants to go have an impact in this world and everybody listening wants to do more than just give them a PowerPoint full of data. We are all fully invested, or we would be doing something else. We are all fully invested in making sure that our people, we leave everything on that stage, and we do what we can to change the way they think about something. And that’s big, that’s powerful. And y’all are doing it as Speaker Flow, you know?

Taylorr: Shucks.

Austin: Well, we’re doing our best, but for all of you listeners go back and listen to those last 30 seconds again, because amen, that’s right, we have a lot of power and responsibility to deliver with that power. If we’re going to get up on the stage and influence people, that’s the contract that we sign with the universe when we undertake that, it’s also why it’s so intimidating for people, because influence requires a level of self-awareness to make sure that you’re influencing the world in the right way. 

But anyway, so I go on and on about that, I love what you just said there. I also love that you’ve taken the gifts that you have and analyzed them to the point where you’re able to help people with it, that seems difficult. Was that process of unpacking what you actually do naturally hard for you?

Kelly: Yes. Yes. It’s very hard. And anybody who’s an artist, how do you go explain what you do naturally? And yet, when people say, oh, you’re just a good storyteller, I can never be that way. I’m like, oh wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, you didn’t see me 20 years ago or 25 years. You didn’t see me when I started, we can definitely get better, you may not be able to make somebody funny or a standup comic, but you can make them funnier. You can make somebody better, so, yeah, it was really hard. The job that did it for me was when I got asked to speak at Amway headquarters and I was so excited because I thought they were going to have me come speak to the salespeople when they called. 

And I was like, oh, yeah, about story. Eventually, people started to seek me out for that topic. And I was like, oh, yay, salespeople, I love it. They’re my jam, da, da, da. And the lady’s like, no, we’re in research and development, we’re the scientists. And I was like, what? And they’re like, in the lab. I said I don’t understand. Well, does not compute. How? And they’re like, we have to get out from behind this computer, we have to sell what we create, we’re the techy people who’ve been commissioned to get in front and sell it internally and teach people how to sell it and we don’t know how to do that. 

And that was the job, Austin and Taylorr, that switched it for me and made me write the story formula, because I thought to myself, how do I get in front of a room of scientists and teach them story in a way that they would understand, which is formula. And I hit on it, I reserved the right to 10 years from now, come up with a better one. But that changed everything and went okay, how do I teach the left-brain data-oriented people or the introverted people or the IT people. And it’s really not about, story is your tool, story is the vessel. What it is about is connecting emotionally in a short amount of time with the words that you use. 

So, there’s a philosophy, I won’t get into it, but that’s why I morphed into the persuasion principle, and it became broader because everybody wanted to jump into story. Okay, tell me how to tell. And I was like, no, if you don’t understand the connection between you, it, and them and emotional connection, then what’s the point in writing a story, I need you to learn this foundational piece first.

Austin: Wow.

Kelly: But yes, it was hard.

Austin: It sounds really hard. I love that you.

Taylorr: It’s totally the journey.

Austin: Contextualized it that way though. So, cool. And I know that you have the book, the story formula, but I didn’t realize how literal that actually is. You wrote it as a formula for people that think in terms of formula. I’m that way actually, so I appreciate that.

Kelly: And there’s even more than one. It’s like the story has a formula, there are other equations involved, but it gets kind of complicated. I’m trying to make it simpler; I think the persuasion principle will boil it down. Even for people who don’t have time to craft and write a story. You can still create story-driven connections anyway.

Austin: Well, we have a bunch of questions around the persuasion principle.

Kelly: Alright.

Taylorr: For sure.

Austin: And in fact, we’re about to get into that. I have one question though, that I think is a segue, maybe a bridge between these couple of things, but you just talked about the story itself, meaning maybe the path, the progression of what happens in the story is less important than that emotional tie. It seems part of storytelling is manufacturing emotion and you see that when you’re watching TV or a really compelling movie, you get sucked in; you feel what the characters are feeling. You feel people can learn that that’s not something that just is a personality thing that has a dynamic enough personality to pull those emotions out; somebody that’s very logical could bring emotion out in a story. Do you know what I mean?

Kelly: Oh, most definitely.

Austin: I’m Kind of surprised that is something that can be learned.

Kelly: Definitely. There is a structure, there are pieces, and many have come at that, I’m not the first one to put a structure to story. I’m putting it to persuasive story, not the hero’s journey and we’re not writing a novel, our whole entire goal is to persuade somebody to do something. But, yes, one can learn to do that, it’s sort of writing an essay, in school they’ll teach you, here’s your outline, here’s how you put it together, here’s how you should open, here’s how you should close. Is that going to make it an A essay? 

It depends on how good of a writer you are. You can then go, well, let’s make the character better, or let’s add humor. To me, a story is like a piece of music, and every note, every word is a note and where you place it and where the timing is and anybody here who is a humorist or a comedian, knows full well, every word, every syllable, everything impacts the piece. Now, everybody doesn’t look at it to the depth that I do, that’s the advanced level. What I call my story makeovers is let me get you to get the structure right. 

You need a character, the character needs a problem, the problem needs an emotion attached to it, it needs a resolution; there’s an anatomy to this story, just as there is an anatomy to a full presentation. Which are in my persuasion principle, I will differentiate and teach both, but to answer your question, yes, there are pieces to that story and I learned that from looking at thousands of stories. Maybe with some of you even listening over the years at different NSA chapters and Toastmasters. That’s how I started to see the patterns. Is wait, the ‘you’ is missing, the ‘it’ is missing, the ‘them’ is missing. 

You need, oh, you’re telling it from your perspective, you’re missing their perspective, there’s a definite concrete, you, it, and them. And let me tell you one thing that somebody can take away right now and apply and learn, I don’t want to just tease you with a bunch of stuff, I want to give you something today you could take away. Here is why stories are so powerful in a way that data cannot do this. When you tell your story to me include how it made you feel. Now, story is not a list of facts. So, you don’t get to say, this is my story, I was born in 1968, I was, no, those are facts. 

The story is about somebody who went through something. There was a before and an after, you come on the other side of it. So first, understand that story is about somebody’s experience and there’s a way to put it together. The best tip I can give you though, is when you tell a story and you include emotions, how it made you feel to have this problem, how it made you feel to have the problem solved, how it made you feel to go through the process. And you say it any way you want, your emotions are different. 

From what I understand, and there’s a lot of science and psychology behind it I’m not going to get into, from what I understand, there are only a real set number of emotions. And when you name an emotion, I was frustrated. I felt like I didn’t fit, I felt too weird for my association. Then that listener automatically goes through its brain, through its Rolodex, of a time it felt that same emotion. And automatically, it remembers a time when that happened for them, and now they’re standing in their story and your story at the same time and that is extremely powerful. 

Especially, when you know, and it sounds manipulative because it is, when you know how you can force them on this journey of being in their story and yours at the same time and the emotion is the connector. We don’t connect to each other’s stories based on plot, we are never going to have the same plot and the same journey. But when you name the emotion, I identify with what you’re feeling. And that is where you have that story connection and it’s a beautiful thing. And everybody listening has experienced it when you’ve shared your story and somebody’s come up and shared theirs, and you might have said, oh my God, that wasn’t even what I said, they went somewhere totally different. But the point is they went somewhere. Data can’t do that.

Taylorr: Wow.

Kelly: One researcher at Princeton or somewhere, Psychology Today said, story gives you the ability to plant ideas into other people’s minds. Story is not just a nice little thing you tack on to the end of your presentation, it does the work, and your data brings it home. And y’all teach through story. Speaker Flow, y’all are the Kings and Queens of this. Of, you give me a story I can understand, to wrap your technological or concept that I can’t, you’re using story all the time. When you say, Kelly, it’s like this over here. Oh, I understand that. No, I haven’t brought the emotion piece into it, but you’re good at that too. Alright. That was a mouthful. Y’all need to play that over a couple of times, but that’s your tip for the day.

Taylorr: Oh, man. I just wish I could rewind that for a second. Holy cow. What’s crazy is and thank you for saying that we’re good at that here.

Austin: Yeah, seriously.

Taylorr: But I don’t think I’ve had labels for that. Just in the last five minutes or so of you breaking that down where you say, and I think instinctually it makes sense, emotion is the connector, but I can even imagine just some, maybe let’s go into some sales coaching for example, that I’ve had conversations with people. It’s pretty easy to pick up on when it’s a lot of eyes. I did this, I did this, they’re kind of telling facts, right? You even say facts, tell stories, sell, so, they’re just kind of telling facts. 

And so, I say, you need to kind of make it more about them, but then what happens is they kind of, sometimes will just immediately jump to assuming that person’s position. They’re making up facts about that person and that’s how they’re making it about them rather than making it more blended, and so what I love about what you said about emotion being the connector, is you can still tell your story, but you can interlace emotion through it. That person can still relate to that emotion, even though your plot is different, and you don’t need to necessarily jump to making assumptions about facts about that person, you can still share your perspective in a way that allows it to still be relatable. Am I making sense of this?

Kelly: Yes. And I want to say something too, many speakers have been told, don’t talk about yourself. Nobody wants to hear you talk about yourself, you’re bragging. And I push back to that.

Taylorr: And how do you balance that, right?

Kelly: Well, I know what they’re saying. We don’t need you to be the superhero who does everything right and look how great you are and I, I, I, I, and it’s a book report. However, this whole thing can be about you, because you’re the one standing up there, you’re the one we brought in there, it is your perspective, and here is how you balance it. We don’t need you to be Superman, but if you’re the hero of the story, meaning you’re the main character. We’re totally okay with that. Here’s why it matters so much. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

In sales, we all know. And I’ve said this until I’m blue in the face because it’s the truth. We all know that people buy from people, they like, trust, believe, and feel they know. Nobody’s going to buy from you if those things aren’t evident, like, trust, believe, feel they know. I broaden that to not just selling a product but selling yourself on that stage. They are not going to buy your information; they’re not going to buy your credibility. And this happens before you even get on the stage, this isn’t just about giving a good speech. 

Like, trust, believe, no, your information, in my humble opinion, and we’ll argue about it another day, will never give you the ability to be likable. It will never create trust; it will never make them believe what you’re saying. The numbers don’t sell enough. But when you tell me your story, then you’re allowing me to see who you are. And like, trust, believe, story is what shows who you are without having to tell people. I’m going to give everybody a great because they’re probably seeing all this swirl around their head going ah, ah, what do I do with this? How do I do?

I tell people in business and we’re in business. Now, I know we’re all speakers and we are the ultimate storytellers, but I tell everybody this, in whatever business you are when they say, well, I’m a photographer, I have no idea, what stories do I sell? Your customer testimonials are the best stories you can tell. You should have a whole portfolio of the people you have helped. Not just, and those stories don’t tell how great you are. They tell how great your solution is and how wonderful it felt for you to be a personal part of this process. 

And so, every single one of us should have an endless amount of people who’ve sat in our audience, people who’ve bought our product. Don’t tell, somebody said to me, I feel they don’t care about my story at this insurance company. I’m like, they don’t. They care about theirs. So, go tell the stories of your customers and weave yourself into it as almost a secondary character. And that is a beautiful combination; they can be peppered all through your speeches. And we know this, we see internet marketers do it all doggone day long. That’s what they’re doing. 

So anyway, I’ll shut up there, but there’s another good piece that somebody could take and go, oh, I know what to do. I can go take this right now and start writing the stories of my customers or my audience members, whatever.

Austin: Yeah. Wow. So, it sounds to me like this is kind of one of the core principles of the Persuasion Principle. How does this tie into that framework that you’ve developed?

Kelly: I stumbled on persuasion, and I can’t believe we got it trademarked. Can y’all believe we got Persuasion Principal trademarked?

Taylorr: With the alliteration. Wow. Well, done, that’s impressive.

Kelly: Well, and only in sales and training category, but I’ll take it. But anyway, and that’s a whole story in and of itself. But the reason I broadened is I used to be about everything story. And I can go all day into that module, how to put the stories together, why they work, what types of stories you should be able to tell, I have a whole in my free gift, remind me to tell them about the free gift. I have a whole Madlibs book of templates for stories. And that used to be where I would stay, but to get them ready, I was like, wait a minute, they need to understand connection ‘you’, ‘it’ and ‘them’. 

That’s the true equation to that to me is at the bottom of everything, your website, your marketing, your sales, are you telling the story of you; the speaker, it; your brand, and them; your customer, all at the same time and using the language for each of those. So, I broadened just the story module to, okay, we need to have a piece on connection. So, now it was two pieces, the connection module, and then there’s the story piece. But then there was one more and that’s, wait a minute. 

Many of my buyers are having to put this into an entire presentation. There is an order. There is an anatomy to a speech. You don’t, well, you can do whatever you want, there’s no right or wrong, but a persuasive speech also has a formula. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the problem we face? There’s a structure to that. And that’s the trilogy, the trifecta, whatever goes with three, those are the three modules upon which the persuasion principle is based. Is that you have the right connection piece, the right structure, and story, connection, structure, and story. And what I also love, oh, this sounds like a plug for the Persuasion Principle. Hey, thanks, guys.

Austin: Let it be, it’s awesome.

Taylorr: Let it be, yeah. And make it simple.

Kelly: But what I love about the process and the journey is that people go, I love that I can take my clients all the way through the learning, but they come out with their first story, which is, who am I? Why do I do the work that I do and why it matters? Everybody listening, and I know speakers are not. I’ll tell people this in healthcare, in customer service, everybody should have their, who am I? Who am I and why the work that I do matters to me, to the company, and to the people we serve? So, everybody comes out of the persuasion principle with that finished piece. 

And this may be a great model if anybody listening is like; this is how I’m going to set up my training or whatever I teach. I’m waiting on the other side as the artist; my wizardry is taking it once you have it in the right structure. That’s where I want to be waiting and sometime y’all need to have me back and let’s do story makeovers. That’s kind of what I’m sort of known for is, bring it to me now and watch the magic really happen as we go, now we get into, ah, if you move this line and if you take this character and what if you said it this way? And the biggest thing, if I could give a message to everybody listening about your stories. 

Many people stop thinking this story’s good enough. It’s not the most, they don’t realize how the tiniest tweak can get three times the laugh, can impact the emotion of your audience in exponential ways. It can be the difference, I’ve had somebody say, Kelly, I made these changes that your principal teaches me. The philosophy is the wizardry, ‘it’ here. And they said the changes we made were the difference in people lining up, handing me their cards to book me again, and selling out of books in the back. They’re like; I’m astounded that this same speech only needed those tiny nuances added to it. It’s like music. You could totally relate it to music, you could have a song that’s just, ah, and then you could have Adele.

Austin: Right. Respect Adele, if you’re listening to this. Hope so.

Taylorr: Fingers crossed.

Austin: Yes. I hear you. Wow, man, Kelly, I just, I feel my mind is actually.

Kelly: I’m a firehose.

Austin: Exploding right now.

Taylorr: Changing.

Austin: I know.

Kelly: I’m the firehose, I’m sorry.

Austin: No, it’s awesome. Well, something that I feel I just kind of took away from this too and I’d love for you to either validate or help me better understand this. Is that storytelling is kind of an iterative thing. It sounds like if you start somewhere, you can tell it and read the audience and see how they react to it and then from there make the little changes. It doesn’t sound like it’s a static thing where you just follow the formula and now it’s perfect.

Kelly: No.

Austin: Is that right?

Kelly: And it’s not about the best story. We’ve fallen into this idea, some of us, that it’s about who can tell the best story, is my story. People come to me all the time. Is this the best story? Is this the best? Should I choose this one? I’m like; y’all are all asking the wrong question. What you need to ask is, is it the right story? Is this the right story that illustrates the point you need to make, that connects, that they can see themselves in and mirrors? It can be the most basic. My scientist story that I tell, about a scientist who learned how to use story to sell his product, is the most unsexy, boring story and yet it does what I need it to do. 

And that’s what you need to be focused on is do I have a story that works? And then when it works, you’re exactly right. You can make it better, you can perfect on it and here, this should free everybody. The fact that you even have a story at all will probably get you where you need to be. As long as you don’t ramble all over the place and you need to understand what the point of it is. But even having a story is so powerful, you almost don’t need to know how to do it well or write for it to work.

Austin: Wow. That’s liberating.

Taylorr: Very liberating. And it’s nice to know that you can just iterate on it to make it better, it doesn’t need to be perfect right away, you just need to find those small tweaks, be willing to make adjustments. Don’t let it sit on a shelf after you feel you’ve perfected your story, because there’s probably not an end gain insight there. The story is always, it’s a living thing. It’s not this static process necessarily, we can add some structure to it, of course, but there’s always going to that iteration.

Kelly: And it doesn’t have to be super scripted. You can find your own way and I will tell you this, I consider myself a master storyteller. I consider myself very good, it is the one thing I know how to do better than anything else in my world. And I still have speeches where I get up there and pull a story out of my butt and I’ll go back and go, well, that was kind of a train wreck, because I’m more interested in using it to teach you what you need to know or to get a joke in at the moment about what we just did with the audience last night. I am still always, I have some that are, chub-rub is solid. 

Even in my theater show, and then I’ll allow the space to let stories bubble up, I would rather, you be comfortable enough to trust yourself, to just go, let me tell you about a time. And that’s all it’s. Let me just tell you about a time rather than wait and let it be. We’ve seen stories that are too perfect.

Taylorr: That’s right. Yeah, that’s really scripted, kind of pulling back to your point earlier.

Kelly: Yeah.

Taylorr: Holy cow. What an episode. I have gotten an education today. Austin, how are you feeling over there, man?

Austin: Yeah, this has been a lot in the best possible way. I just feel. Taylorr, you said it earlier, having labels for things can be so helpful. And so, what I love about what you do and who you are, Kelly, is you take this thing that is, I feel extremely abstract really, because it’s sort of art, it’s a performance. It doesn’t have to be a set structure, it loses some of the magic if it’s a set structure, so this very abstract concept and you boil it down into at least enough points that you can manage to think about how you’re going to pull it all together, you know? 

So anyway, you’re a master expert and expert by the definition of somebody who takes something very complex and hard to understand and distills it into something that people can actually use. So, I very much appreciate you sharing your expertise with us.

Kelly: Thank you. And I’m still a work in progress myself, it is a very abstract thing, it is a very hard thing to take an art and give it a formula and a structure. And what I love about the simple ‘you’, ‘it’, and ‘them’, it sounds so basic, and yet over and over and over again, it always comes back to that structure. I can see in every single speech and story, and I’ve seen people watch it on the outside and go, she’s right, when we add this piece. So, it’s almost like I found the formula and it just keeps proving itself correct over and over and over, and that’s a really neat thing. And it sounds so basic, ‘you’, ‘it’, ‘them’. Are you serious? That’s all. Whatever, it’s a lot more to it.

Taylorr: It makes it easy to remember though. So, every time listeners you’re out there telling stories, ‘you’, ‘it’, ‘them’, ‘you’, ‘it’, ‘them’. Repeat that to yourself and listen to this episode as many times as you need to. Kelly, this has been a powerful episode, thank you so much for coming on. I can imagine people are just chomping at the bits to understand more. So, what are you working on right now that our listeners can benefit from?

Kelly: Well, something cool is percolating in the fall. A community and you’re going to want to be part of it, if you’re listening, I don’t care who you are. If you love story and you have a message that the world needs to hear, you are going to want to be part of my community, I’ll give you a hint. It’s going to be called Story Impact Academy. So, when you hear that and, yes, Persuasion Principle will be inside of it. You get ready because I am excited to create a community of story ambassadors, I guess, where we are all gathered together with that common interest, that we all know we have a story the world needs to hear, and we want to help each other share it with the world. 

So, that’s what’s brewing, but it’s not there yet. So, I guess, for now, you need to tell them about my free gift. If anybody is not already connected to me, because that’s how you’ll find out when the fall thing is coming is. Right, Speaker Flow guys?

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah, we guess. What’s the website?

Kelly: We’re building the machine behind me, go to kellysfreegift.com. K E L L Y S, I don’t know if y’all give people a link. There are a lot of resources waiting for you, including a free copy of story formula. You’ll never need me again if you come there, but it’s also our way of staying in touch.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah, that’s awesome.

Austin: Go do that, people.

Taylorr: We’ll make sure. Yes. Show notes. The link is down below, definitely go check it out. Kelly, what a powerful episode. Guys, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it, and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources.

Austin: Bye, everyone.

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