I was able to interview my friend Katie Quesada recently. I got to hear her speak at a conference a few months ago and she was so amazing, I knew I had to talk to her more on my podcast and for my blog. If you’ve ever wondered how to share your story and grow your business, this post is for you! She’s going to tell us about the importance of stories and how we can use them in our businesses.
Katie started in ministry but recently made some big changes. She was listening to a speaker at one of the women’s events she organized for her church, and realized she needed to teach women how to share their stories. Through this process, she’s coached women to share their stories for the first time in front of hundreds of other women. After a few years, she left that position and decided to move into a tiny house trailer with her family, and became a full time story coach. She helps companies craft better stories and individuals tell their personal stories in a concise way that serves their audience.
What gave you the confidence to quit a job you loved?
The biggest thing that helped was knowing that that part of my life was over. But I had been contemplating leaving for nearly a year before I quit my job. And there comes a point where you just have to do it. Sometimes I do want to wait for a magical sign, but sometimes you just have to do it. Confirmation comes in the process. You have to first be willing to let something end.
I totally agree with Katie on this. You have to be willing to say goodbye to who you are right now in order to let something new happen in your life.
Why is telling your story as a business owner important?
A study came out that said that storytelling is more effective in persuading opinions than fact or logic. And it’s true. People and processes tell great stories, not numbers and facts. What stories are you telling with your product? How do you create an environment where the customer is the hero of your product? Your product needs to be the helper, not the hero in the story. (This mode of thinking has been popularized by Donald Miller of Story Brand)
Again, I love what Katie shares here. If we are leaving our story off the table, then we are leaving impact off the table. We aren’t able to sell as much or reach as many people who need what we are offering if we don’t share ourselves.
How do we get over our fears of sharing ourselves?
- Really great story tellers are interested before they are interesting. How do you create a community where you are wildly interested in your clients? You listen to what they are saying, and you are interested in their lives and stories. After you reach that point, then you have a platform to share your story. The first thing you need to learn is this phrase, “Tell me more.”
- We are in a weird world where we think we only need to have one story. But every person is a collection of stories. And sharing those stories can help you connect to a much broader audience.
You need to know the difference between a macro and micro story. For instance, you may be a cancer survivor ( this is your micro story), but your macro story is that you are a person of resilience. I may not have/had cancer, but I can relate to being a person of resilience because of experiences in my own life. Remember, it isn’t about finding the exact people that had the same experiences as you it’s about recognizing the values that took place through those experiences. Some of these may be courage, hope, bravery, resiliency. It’s about looking at the bigger picture and inviting more people into your story through sharing these common values.
Yes! I love what Katie shares here. I think it’s so important to take the time to dissect our story ourselves before we share with others so we can make it more powerful. You need to translate your story into how people can grasp it and relate to it.
What are the basic elements of a good story?
I specialize in short stories. I teach people how to tell their stories in a concise and easily digestible format. Like a Ted Talk, a keynote, Instagram post, etc. The first step is to take a second and look at your own stories and write them out. I always have the women I coach do this exercise when they are learning how to tell a story.
Write down your five senses- then write down a list of five favorite things. Now draw a line from a sense to a favorite thing and write a story about that.
These exercises will help you learn how to tell a short story and make it relatable. The basic building blocks of any story are: context, tension, releasing tension, and revelation. Most people do one of these way too long and they lose people. Most of the time it’s context that we spend too much time on. The hard work we have to do is take what we have learned from moments in our life and share that with people in a way they can relate to the feelings you had. Invite them into your story.
Michelle here– What I see as I’m working with businesses is that they apologize for their story. They apologize for the hurt and the hard. We are afraid to be vulnerable. The great thing about crafting your story is that you get to tell it in a resolved way. You can say this is what this experience taught me. You need to take your story and digest it for people and say this is what I learned and this is how we can connect. That’s where you will see the connections happen.
What do you tell women who are apologizing for their story?
I heard this saying from Nadia Bolz-Weber, “We speak from scars, not wounds.” I love this quote. We have to have a season of healing before we can craft a story that is honest and true. Otherwise we are still in a splash zone of hurt. We absolutely want to tell stories that we have come through, and that we aren’t in a place of pain about.
What about those that say they don’t have a story to share?
I ask those people these questions:
- What do you care about?
- What are you passionate about?
- What have you feared?
When you ask yourself those questions and you write down the truths you learned, you will come up with powerful stories that people can join in on. Women need to harness their story. Part of the process is the ownership of your experiences. Your experiences are your expertise. This is so important in business. You become more of an expert in something when you’ve experienced it. When you become more of an expert you can harness that for your business
How do I know what stories are the right ones for my business?
First, you need to figure out your own core values. Think through what you really care about. Honesty, courage, vulnerability, or is there another value you care about? Figure out a way to incorporate those into your brand.
What we, as consumers, care about is how you and your journey led you to start this business and how this business supports your family or your town. Or how your product helps someone in their life to live a better life or find joy.
Michelle again- I see this so much nowadays. People care about your story in your business. It’s an amazing time in history. No matter what kind of business you have, your story can be incorporated into it because people care, and they want to know more about you.
People want to know the stories behind the business. You gain trust with your customers when you share your stories. People want to know who’s behind the product. It’s important to create a personal brand. People want to be connected with you and your business.
How would you start practicing storytelling as a business owner?
Instagram is tricky for storytelling as a beginner, because of the need for good photography. Most people tell good stories or take great pictures. But Instagram is a good platform to practice on to help you learn how to tell a story. But, don’t overthink it. I’d recommend telling a short story about yourself and ending with a rhetorical question. Creating a story and ending in a question is a great way to create a conversation and to force yourself to come up with a value based narrative.
How do you get someone to just start talking about themselves?
Do not start in front of your most important audience. Great stories and great storytellers are born at dinner tables. Start there. I think the process of talking about your experiences with safe audiences really important. Another exercise I have my clients do is to talk about yourself in 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 3 minutes. Record yourself doing this. All of my speaking clients get told to record themselves talking about your story. Everyone hates it. But you need to do it anyways to see how it feels to connect your story with your brand. Also, don’t forget to ask someone for feedback. It’s a scary thing, but it’s so important to the process as you learn to share your story.
I love how Katie shares the importance of practicing telling our stories. It’s so important for us to remove ourselves from the story. And to remember that if someone doesn’t like your story it does not mean they don’t like you. I fully believe that if God has given you this stage, people need to hear you.
Last thoughts on storytelling from Katie
Don’t have a scarcity mindset when you share your story. Let the audience go through the story with you. We have to trust that people are listening. And be interested first.
I loved talking with Katie. I know that the better you get at storytelling, the more power and impact you can have. God has given you experiences good and bad so that you can use them to bring people happiness, peace, empathy etc. So I challenge you to do these exercises that Katie has shared here and practice your storytelling. I know it will make a difference in your business and in your life.