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August 2005
Telling Your Story...
By John Paul Galles

      Very often I am asked what makes a good story. I like to turn it around and say, “A person who has a good story to tell.” Telling a good story requires much more than the kernel of the story, though. It requires good communication. And whether telling your own story or speaking in your area of expertise on other matters, communicating information intelligently and entertainingly requires preparation.

As in Marshall McLuhan’s mantra, “The medium is the message,” you are the medium, and the better you tell your story, the better your message will be understood.

The most severe limitations to telling your story will be your audience’s time and attention span. Effective communication of your message will depend on your packaging of that information for the intended audience. You want to be comfortable enough on the spur of the moment to represent yourself/your company in the way that you intend. Telling your story or providing your input will be valuable if you remember these seven points:

  1. Accessibility is important! If you want to be quoted or to be covered, you have to understand that writers and reporters live by deadlines and need or want your feedback when they want it. That may not fit your time frame. More often than not, you must be prepared to accept the interview when the writer/reporter wants your input.
  2. Interview the writer/reporter before they interview you! Verify the legitimacy of the writer/reporter. Make sure you know their purpose in interviewing you and what types of questions they will be asking you. Ask them who else they will be interviewing. Ask what the deadline is.
  3. Set up the interview! Establish a firm time for the interview, giving yourself ample time to prepare. Schedule it well enough in advance of the deadline in case any matters require further clarification or amplification.
  4. Prepare your story or message in definite points! Every business owner has their story…how they got started…how they have grown…what are their products and /or services…who are their customers and/or clients…who are their competition…how are they different…what obstacles have they overcome…what is their future. Organize your story or message around these points in an order that is comfortable for you and demonstrates your message most appropriately. Prepare a “cheat sheet” of main points for reference during the interview.
  5. Practice! Practice! Practice! You want to appear comfortable and knowledgeable. You want to develop your story or message into a few well spoken statements. You want to stay on point. The more you practice, the better you will do, the more comfortable you will be.
  6. Remember that less is better! Answer questions with what you know. Get to the bottom line. Deliver any background information after you have answered the question. Don’t go on and on; don’t go off on tangents. Don’t speak about what you don’t know about.
  7. Enjoy yourself! Be proud and confident about what you know. It will show. Give good access, good quotes and be reliable. Stay on point and you will have a good time telling your story in your way.

      A business owner who is accessible, quotable and knowledgeable is extremely valuable to any writer or reporter as well as to the business community. Telling your story and providing your input to writers and reporters is good for your business and good for others who want to do business with you. If you would like to tell your story in Greater Charlotte Biz, please give me a call or send me an e-mail, but make sure you have taken the above steps in advance of your call.

 

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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