Some like it hot. I do not.

Or at least, not anymore. When I was a kid, swimming was my passion. Those hot, muggy New Jersey summer days often meant time splashing around at the beach or in the pool. Alas, my thermostat reset after I moved to the Northwest, and I no longer tolerate super hot and humid weather. I wilt at 82 and retreat inside, to hibernate and read.

With heat stress in mind, I’ll share just one short idea about storytelling, then invite you to kick back with your favorite reading, including three recent blog posts you might have missed.

Short tip: How to make your story a little richer

I just taught a class on Creating Your Signature Story for a group of professionals within the wonderful King County Library System–where I’m a big fan, hoping I’ll someday qualify for a “frequent borrower” award.

Working with the class participants, I was reminded of how everyone has a story, and how easy it is to start sharing it when we know that someone else is listening.

However, in today’s busy workplaces, we’re taught to be concise, and that can often lead to a way of speaking that’s abstract and detached. We preface an anecdote by saying “the customer needed information.”

By adding just a few interesting details, a brief story will become a little longer but a lot more memorable.

Engaging people’s interest is more time-efficient than boring your listeners with business-speak.

One way to come up with these details is to activate your imagination and remember the scene where the story took place. (You can also do this when talking about the future, by standing in that future and describing what you see.)

Observe through your senses.

If you’re describing an interaction with a customer (the library calls them patrons), invite us to see the world with you. Let’s stand together in that crowded library. What does your patron look like when he (or she) first enters the front doors of the library? What does he look at? What’s her expression?

When your patron approaches you for information, what does she sound like? Is he stammering? Struggling to ask a question? Sweating? Speaking, slowly, quickly, or in broken English?

As you try and listen to him, what other sounds do you hear in the room? Loud voices or the tires of a book cart?

Is the room dark and back-lit by a vivid sun? Or is it bright?

Even a few specific sensory details, chosen to reinforce the point you’re making, can transform your anecdote and make it vivid and memorable. If your story needs to be short, you may only have time to add one or two details. But they can make the difference between just “talking about”  an incident and engaging people’s interest and curiosity.

Now for those recent posts…

How do you balance your head and your heart when you’re making a decision? I wrote about what I went through before deciding to foster an abandoned dog. (For last week’s readers: Riley’s vet check showed nothing major wrong (good), while indicating a host of old dog ailments as well as some neurological problems (oh dear).

When your mind is buzzing with unwanted, and sometimes unkind thoughts, what do you do? I shared three words that helped save me and turned around a situation. Lots of readers offered ideas about how they tame their wild minds. I’d love to hear more of your ideas!

Stories matter, and in today’s world we need to hear the stories of people at the margins (frequently referred to as “them.”) The best way to do that is in an open circle, where everyone is invited to have a voice. I shared a trailer from Hannah Gadsby’s much-talked-about “Nanette” in which she ends her evening of stand-up comedy with a stirring message, “I want my story to be heard.”

What stories are moving you? If you don’t feel like sharing your own, just grab a book and read. Especially when it’s hot.

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