Yes, your job is to learn from the masters.
This means that, to start to tell better stories, you’re well-advised to study the storytelling techniques of great storytellers – whether Martin Luther King, or Ken Robinson, or Hans Rosling, or Bryan Stevenson.
And, to make sense of all of that, you’ll want to unpack how to give a great TED talk by learning from speaker coach Nancy Duarte or from TED Curator Chris Anderson (special for blog readers: use the REFERAFRIEND discount code to save 80% on Chris’ course).
You may even take things a step further when you realize that it’s not just storytelling that interests you, it’s really about creating a broader framing of an authentic narrative, in which case you’ll bridge to the work of Marshall Ganz and unpack the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.
Or perhaps you are more of a writer than a speaker, in which case you’ll want to start with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Stephen King’s On Writing, and Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car, and grow from there.
(And no matter what you do, you’ll want to get your hands on Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist)
But at the end of the day, technique will only take you so far.
At the end of the day, what the world needs from you is not a dim reflection of one of your mentors, not the echoes of someone who inspires you, not the loose parroting of someone else’s words, approach or demeanor.
What the world needs from you is your voice, your truth (here, now, at this moment), your honest language.
Because what we crave most of all are glimpses of humanity. What we long for are glimmers of the unique perspective that only you bring because of the combination of experiences and attitude and character that come together in you, right now, on a stage or in the written word.
To begin this exploration, ask:
Who are you when you are speaking to a close friend?
How do you sound when you give advice from the heart to your child after an argument with her best friend?
How do you show up when an old colleague asks for advice?
How do people say they experience you when you are at your best?
This real, true, honest you – the one who is brave or humble or funny or grounded or clever or bold or quirky – that’s the you we want to see most of all.