Last week I went to Prague to teach a leadership course. When I arrived at the airport, my luggage had gone missing. I panicked. I had no make-up, no clothes and I hadn’t even had a shower that day. The handouts for the workshop were in my bag and all I could imagine was myself looking like a ragamuffin standing in front of a high-powered group of professionals without any notes. Nightmare!
I decided to share the story on Facebook. This is what I wrote:
Within seconds, friends and clients had posted positive affirmations, suggestions and support. I experienced a swell of good feeling inside as I realised that I’m surrounded by people who believe in me.
The point is that I’d found a story to share about a particular moment – one that told the world I was teaching leadership in a European country without me boasting about it.
I didn’t intend to use it to promote myself, but ultimately that’s what it did. If I compare this post with other blogs I have written in the past, this had a much more immediate response. It was a compelling story.
It also led me to write a follow-up.
This time I got even more comments and likes. It also gave me a story to share on my leadership course that enhanced the message of my workshop and gave it a more meaningful context.
One of the things I’ve learnt over the years of coaching creatives is that one of the biggest blocks to self-expression is when we try too hard. If we try to be entertaining, impressive or clever, it can often be repellent. I used to spend hours coming up with ‘top tips’ or writing analytical posts and it simply didn’t connect.
When we share everyday stories of our working lives, it gives our audience a flavour of who we are and what is important to us. When we find stories about our challenges or our lessons in life, it can add nuance to our brand and to the work we do.
You may be wondering how you find the time to tell stories when you’re already flat out creating your work – and I completely get that.
If you’re not in the habit of thinking about stories, then it can feel like a burden.
But let me explain more of the benefits.
By reflecting on stories about what you do, it can also give meaning to your work.
It feels motivating to find the essence of what you’re doing.
It’s also quick and easy. Things happen to us all the time and telling a story is the quickest way to find content to share and promote your work.
Here are some ideas of where you might find everyday stories.
Idea 1 – What sort of things do you do every week that are unique or interesting?
I travel a lot with work – so sharing my stories about other countries add a different perspective to my life. Perhaps you go on location, meet interesting people or even work in a dungeon! Reflect on your work and life and share something that people may not know about you.
Idea 2 – What’s intriguing about your process?
I remember a musician telling me a fascinating story about how he comes up with music for adverts. He showed me the silent film he would receive from the advertising agencies and would always start improvising with his guitar and humming tunes. This was normal for him, but this sort of detail could be engaging for your audience as they feel like they are learning something new.
Idea 3 – What’s different about you or your life?
Perhaps you’re a Quirk of Art, Maverick, Provocateur or other archetype. Perhaps you pride yourself on thinking differently or live in a way that’s unorthodox.
I know of a lady who teaches people about wearing wellbeing and creates stories about her shoes. She’s obsessed with shoes and takes pictures of them all the time. It makes her unique and memorable.
Idea 4 – Tell a story about your art
This is the best tool for self-promotion. What inspired a picture, piece of jewellery or song? What led to you creating it?
Ed Sheeran is the master of story telling. His first breakthrough song A Team he describes as being inspired by a homeless woman called Angel that he struck a friendship with.
You can find stories in everyday situations. They are moments to share that highlight who you are and what you and your work stand for.
When I realised how powerful stories were, I decided to keep a story diary which I use to inspire my work.
Do share a story below.
P.S. On April 19th, Bev and I will be hosting an exclusive private party in Shoreditch where we will be sharing stories and celebrating our Trailblazing Creatives community: