Stand-ups, Stories and feeling Suicidal – some of my most personal secrets!

Marsha's tough

I AM SICK. And when I’m sick, in between necking garlic and vitamin C, I like to lie on my couch and, while feeling terribly sorry for myself, listen to things. In case you’re of a similar frame of mind – here are some audio delights for you, featuring your favourite sore-throated British storytelling enthusiast!

1. The One Where I Tell a REALLY Big Secret About Myself…

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Snugglers, Small moments and Sneaking it in: Lessons from WDS 2017

Happy Marsha on the stage

Even as she was walking up to me, I didn’t break my stride.

I was game for talking to people, but I had an hour to get EVERYTHING done – and I was freaking out a little…

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People assume this is a mistake in storytelling. But it’s an asset.

Movie theater

LET’S DO A FUN MOVIE QUIZ!!!!!

I know you know this!

Guess the movie based on my short story version:

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One of the greatest moments of the last four years.

Screenshot YouTube Video

“I hear what you’re saying.”

He pressed his lips together, and squinted a little in suspicion. “But why? Isn’t that just Misery Porn?”

I was working with my friend Chris on a story he was going to tell at my live show. Chris (who I’ve written about before, here and here) is one of my favourite storytellers of all time, and I’d been excited to sit down with him.

The story is about him reading to his dying mother in hospital. He’d done a version of it at another storytelling show a few weeks before – and there, had played the whole thing for laughs.

As we sat down and talked through the story, I convinced him to pull in the sadness of the situation. To mire us in the grief that he felt, before the funny reveal comes.

Now, he was asking why.

One of the things…

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Teaching new ideas that people sometimes resist? Try this!

a man looking at something

“So guys,” he said, from the front of the large room. “Try this, and you can get to the root of your issue.”

I was on a table right down at the back, so he couldn’t see me rolling my eyes. Jaw set in fury, I looked down at my paper.

It was the Sunday before last, I was at a business retreat, and I was very, very angry.

This year, I’m in a group program, run by Jonathan “Good Life Project” Fields. I’ve been following him for years, and he’s always steered me right. Under his guidance, my business went from doing okaaaaayyy to suddenly making a living doing the thing I’m best at and most enjoy. Working with him again seemed like a good idea.

On this afternoon, 70 other people and I were in a session led by productivity coach, Charlie Gilkey. I’ve hung out with Charlie before – just that morning, he’d been telling me about his recent trip to Hawaii. We get on well and I really like him. I know a lot of people who’ve been coached by him to wild success. He’s a charismatic, clear and powerful speaker.

But, right now, I was cross with him. Furious, actually. Seething.

Or – to be clearer, I wasn’t so much angry with him, as with what he was asking me to do…

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Want to build trust, connection, influence and loyalty? Use THIS in stories. (Science!)

Woman and a Man dancing

“My stomach was in a tight knot as I walked up to the front door.”

If you want people to really care about your stories, and be inspired to take action, there’s one element you MUST include… and yet, I see people leave it out all of the time.

What is this magic bullet?

EMOTION.

Consider the difference between these two stories:

‘I walked up to the front door.
For thirty seconds, nothing happened.
Then, the door opened, and Sally appeared. I took a deep breath, and said, “Hello.”’

Now, read this one:

‘My stomach was in a tight knot as I walked up to the front door.
For thirty seconds, nothing happened.
I started panicking. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, I thought. Maybe I should stay out of it.
Then, the door opened, and Sally appeared, smiling. Nervously, I took a deep breath, and said, “Hello.”’

Which story do you care more about? Which one makes you want to keep reading? Which has the strongest effect on you?

I’m guessing it’s the second one. The difference between the two?

In the second, I told you how I FEEL.

Emotions make your story more powerful for five reasons:

(1) We invest in your story
In the second version above, did you wonder WHY I was so nervous – and what might be about to happen?

Telling us how you feel builds tension in a story. Suddenly, there are high stakes, that might not otherwise exist. Researcher Paul Zak discovered that tension is an essential ingredient to keeping us interested in a story.

(2) We trust you more
Have you ever got nervous…

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Telling a story in just one minute

speakers on a stage

We sat in the lobby of the conference hall. Janne had told me I could be brutal. “I’m Dutch”, she’d said, “I can take it!” But now, I wondered if I’d gone too far.

And then, she burst into tears.

“Oh my goodness!” I cried. “I’m so sorry!”

“It’s ok!” she said, smiling. “It’s a hard thing to do this, because it’s important to me that I get it right. But it’s ok.”

I’m the Storytelling Coach at the Portland conference World Domination Summit (think less Lex Luther, more do-gooders, trying to make the world a better place). Each year, Attendee Storytellers are invited to go onstage and share their stories.

This summer, hundreds of people applied on Saturday morning to tell a story. On Saturday afternoon, Jolie (the conference’s “Fixer and Voice of Reason”) and I combed through the entries, chose five.

Then, I had just half an hour with each, to pull the story out, and figure out they could tell it in one minute. A process I’d usually spend two or three hours with each person for.

Janne’s story was particularly tough, because she wanted to talk about…

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Want to find your best stories? Do this in restaurants.

People in a restaurant

I’m breaking a rule by writing to you today.

This week – last Friday until today – I was supposed to be in New York. On the final trip of a spate that has lasted almost three months, I was going to be hanging out with my mum, who had a week-long job there. But then her job got cancelled, and so I decided to do something I’ve never done before:

Take an internet break.

Email and social media. Not because I’m in the woods, not because it’s Christmas, just… to see what happens.

What’s happened is that…

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What happened when I got locked out of my Air bnb with no shoes on

Superhero cartoon

Perched on the edge of the porch swing, my face and toes in the sun, I balanced my plate in one hand and thought, ‘This isn’t such a bad consolation’.

I was in Nashville. The following day, I was going to be speaking at Jeff Goins’ Tribe Conference, and I’d come out a day early to enjoy some of Music City.

Except… work was keeping me bound to my Airbnb. A last-minute change in my stage time meant I had re-writing to do, and there were a couple of unavoidable Skype meetings. The first in ten minutes, in fact.

I took a snack to eat on the porch, so that I’d at least get a little of the glorious midday sun on my face and bare feet. There was some construction happening across the road, but otherwise it was quiet on the leafy street.

Five minutes later, I finished and carried my plate up to the front door. I clasped the handle, and…nothing. It didn’t turn. What?

Then I realised. The door was locked.

The door that was the only door in. The door whose key was inside. Along with my host’s number. And my phone. And my shoes. Oh. NO.

After trying…

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WDS: Five Storytelling Lessons from Coaching the Attendee Storytellers at World Domination Summit

People on a stage

I stood up, feeling the fizz of excitement under my skin, and started looking around the empty lobby of the conference hall. It was evening. I knew that most people had left, but I needed to be certain.

Yep, I was definitely alone.

I walked to the space where there were no chairs. Then, silently and frantically, I began leaping up and down, alternately punching my fists in the air, before ending on a little stationary run.

It was Saturday night, and I had just finished coaching the Attendee Storytellers for World Domination Summit.

WDS is a conference where, once a year, several thousand do-gooders descend on Portland, to get inspired and try and figure out how to make the world a better place. Along with TED-style informative and inspiring speakers, every year, they have a number of “Attendee Stories” on the main stage – where people from the audience can apply to get up and have a go themselves.

I told a story a few years ago – you can hear it here – and, since then, I’ve become the Official Storytelling Coach for World Domination Summit. Which sounds like loads of fun – and is – until you know that I have just one afternoon to help all the storytellers get their 20 or 30 minute stories down to one minute.

One.

Tiny.

Minute.

It’s brutal but, every year, I do it – and, every year, the challenge makes me feel high as a kite afterwards. Hence the silent, solo leaping around.

Here are five things I learned from coaching this year’s attendee storytellers at World Domination Summit

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