How To Tell Great Stories — the MOST important thing you need to know!

If you want to be good at telling stories, there’s ONE thing you need to know above all else, and it’s what I talk about in this video.

Also, I dress up as Rocky, a hacky Parisian tourist and as everyone in The Graduate. So if you’d like to see (no exaggeration) the MOST IMPORTANT VIDEO I’VE EVER MADE , you’re in luck! Click on the play button here or read the transcript below!

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How to rescue a very public disaster (using my favourite psych fact)

Standing in the booth, looking out at the ten people awkwardly dancing in a space that was built for 400, I felt sick.

I’m about to tell you one of the most important pieces of information I know. Then I’m going to tell you the rest of that story in order to prove it’s true and to help you hold it in your brain (because that’s what storytelling does!).

Here’s the fact:

The most important parts of any talk, blog, presentation or podcast is…

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When I’m feeling desperate about life, this is where I go

When I feel desperate, there are a few places online where I go looking.

I’m often not quite sure what I’m looking for because I’m often not exactly sure why I feel desperate, just that I’m in an emotional funk and I need someone to throw me a life raft. I feel certain that, if I read the right combination of words, the solution to everything in my life that feels confusing or unsure or uncomfortable will materialize in front of me, like a bonus in an 80s computer game.

Sometimes, I’ll scroll aimlessly through Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes, I’ll find people I know on Twitter. But usually, I end up at Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly.

Ask Polly (which I once wrote a blog about, here) is a long-form advice column. You may know that I have a mild fixation with the genre — it’s why I started running Yes Yes Questions, my own, quarterly live advice column. But Heather Havrilesky’s is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, mostly because in almost every letter she responds to, she does a magic trick on my brain.

Pretty much every week, I read the latest letter and think, Well, that sounds hard for you, Stranger Who Wrote To Heather, but I can’t relate to your problem at all. I will read Heather’s reply because I like her writing so much. But there’s no way her advice will apply to anything I have going on.”

But then — half way through the response, I’m always like,

HEATHER HAVRILESKY ARE YOU IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW????

Because how else could she possibly know eXACTly what I’m going through in my life at this exact moment???

The best part is, I know that this is a common experience, but not a universal one. I know it’s common, because HH has been writing Ask Polly for almost eight years, so it must be pretty popular. But I also know it’s not universal, because people are not that much the same. But Heather’s people are. People like me. People who read every single new column that comes out (and several back issues). And that makes me feel both seen and a bit special.

This is the alchemy that happens when you’re…

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How to make yourself my instant best friend

Sitting in the audience, I was having wrestling conflicting feelings.

The woman onstage as belting out a number from the musical “Chicago” — one I haven’t seen, and am not particularly keen to. She was a little off-key. And LOUD. I felt like I should have been cringing, embarrassed for her and hating it… but for some reason, I wasn’t. Why wasn’t I?

It was my third night at Camp GLP, a Summer camp for grown ups. When I saw the sales page, what sold it was the talent show. The camp I went to as a kid had one and it was always the highlight. Skits where we sent up the staff, little jokey routines, maybe someone reading a poem. But this was different.

One after the other, attendees from the camp got up to sing. Some of them were knockout. Some of them really weren’t but, for reasons my brain was struggling to understand, they didn’t look embarrassed about it *at all. Being British, I felt like I should have been convulsing with awkwardness on their behalf.

So when I wasn’t, I looked to my left at my new friend Sam. An Aussie, she and I had been hanging around a bit the last few days. I whispered to her,

“Why don’t I hate this?”

She laughed back and whispered, “It’s because we secretly love Americans. If this had been an Aussie or Brit talent show, it would have been 10 rugby guys in drag looking embarrassed. Instead, all these people onstage are totally committed. They really mean it!”

“So?”

“So I think we secretly admire their self-confidence. Because we could never pull that off.”

And I thought, OMG.

Because, when she said that, two things happened…

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The sales copy hack that makes everything easier and less pushy

THIS IS HOW IT MAKES ME FEEL (also I envy this person's hair)

Sitting at my desk, I stared at the floor with my jaw jutted forward.

I swore under my breath and looked back at the computer screen. The cursor on the blank document was blinking at me, like it had a question. I imagined it asking,

MARSHA
WHAT
ARE
YOU
GOING
TO
WRITE???

“I don’t KNOW,” I said, sulkily.

A year after I started my business, I decided to get serious. I spent more money than I’d ever spent on anything hiring Kendrick Shope — the best Sales Coach I knew — to work with me one-on-one. She’d made huge strides into my sales-resistant brain, helping me understand that it was ok to charge people who have money for my services, showing me how to do consults and teaching me the lost art of following up.

But there was one last mountain I was struggling to climb.

Writing sales copy.

Kill me.

The thing was, I knew that the language I needed to write it was in my brain somewhere.

When I was deep in conversation with people, it came out. That was how I’d got my first few clients. The next few came from word-of-mouth. And I was really good at coaching! I got rave reviews.

So… how come I couldn’t tell other people about what I did in a way that made them get it straight away? Whether it was introducing myself at a networking event, writing my About page or… Sales Copy. Ugh.

I knew I was supposed to talk about their pain points and desires. But articulating those felt like trying to pull something out of my brain that was shrouded behind that heavy material people put on furniture when they’re painting. I just couldn’t get to it.

Kendrick and I had a Skype call later that afternoon. Part way through, in her delightful Southern accent, she said,

“Marsha, ah wanna try a thought experiment on you. If ah were to give you $500 to spend on your business right now, where would you spend it?”

Without missing a beat, I said…

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How to get your friends and family to sell for you (without being a slimy creep)

When I first started this business, I thought the best way to sell my services would be to throw money at the marketing. Facebook ads! Celebrity endorsements! Giant billboards! Except, there was a pretty big obstacle…

…I HAD JUST STARTED MY BUSINESS SO I HAD NO MONEY.

What was left instead?

Word of mouth. Here, there was another problem:

Most of the people I’d done sessions with so far had been pro bono. And they’d been happy to do those sessions for free, because those people had no money to spend on coaching. Which meant most of the people they hung out with also had no money to spend on coaching.

You might have this same issue. But you know who does have some money they might spend on your thing? SOMEONE you know. Which sounds easy…. but:

How do you tell people you know about what you’re doing, without sounding like you’re trying to screw them out of their well-earned money as an act of charity?

Two parts to this answer:

1. Remember that the…

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