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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Quiet The Beast: How to deal with the part of your brain that says mean things to you

When I was growing up, I just thought certain things were truths. Being messy is bad. Not having cool clothes (a puffball skirt, say, or a stonewashed denim jacket and matching skirt) means people won’t like you. Being fat is my fault and something I should be ashamed of.

In my teens and early twenties, the list grew. Going too far with a boy makes you easy. Wanting to kiss a girl is weird and gross. Smoking makes you cool. Especially if you’re not drunk. Especially Benson and Hedges.

Twenty years, countless self-help books, hours of journalling and — thank you, privilege — a LOT of therapy taught me that those ideas were just that, ideas. They weren’t truths. When I believed them to be true about me, and used that to judge myself, it wasn’t because this was a reasonable conclusion to make. These thoughts were just the “inner critic.” One part of your brain that sometimes (often) lied.

But then, I faced a new problem: if I had figured this out, why was it still happening? If I’m so evolved, why do I keep saying such awful things to myself?

Since becoming a storytelling and speaker coach, I’ve spent a lot of time with brilliant, successful people, listening to their personal stories. One thing that I have come to understand is that having this voice that says mean things about you to you — a voice which I call your Beast — is part of the human experience. And that the trick is not to squash it, and not even to love it. But just to do what you can to reduce the volume and frequency with which it speaks to a level where you can start to tune it out. When you can, you have have a nicer life, and you can change more lives.

This year, I was asked to give the closing keynote at the penultimate (ever!) World Domination Summit. Instead of talking, as I usually do, about Storytelling or Sales Pages or even my I Don’t Have My iSht Together, Either project, I decided to write a brand new talk, where I shared the four steps that have helped me figure out how to master my Beast.

To watch it, click on “Read more” then on the big play button on the vid:

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I quote this sentence to people at LEAST once a day (as first said by the brilliant Liz Scully)

I’m about to share with you my favourite thing Liz Scully ever said to me.

Context: do you ever get that thing where you’re REALLY good at teaching people how to do something — but you’re horrible at doing it yourself?

If you’ve been reading these emails recently, you’ll know I’m a bit obsessed with making sure people who have a business or a blog or an ANYTHING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO ENGAGE WITH know the answer to this question:

What is the problem that you solve for your customers?

And I was talking about it with my friend Liz Scully from Rethink Central. If you’re not already familiar with her, she is one of the smartest and funniest people I know and — as you’ll hear in a minute — one of the most articulate.

She and I were on a call recently talking about my obsession with how not enough people think about the answer to that above question, when I suddenly asked, “But Liz… what’s MY answer to it??”

She said, “You help people who don’t know how to make their clients feel seen. You show them how to tell stories and write sales pages that make their clients go, ‘Oh, you SEE me! You understand me!’.

But in that moment, I suddenly wasn’t sure why that mattered. And so I asked her. And her answer is one of my favourite things I’ve ever heard. I’ve probably quoted her 20 times since. Because Liz is very gracious — and because, by total coincidence, we happened to be recording the call (to capture an earlier brainstorm) — she has said it’s ok for me to share the video from that exact conversation.

As you’ll see (from my terrible posture), neither of us were anticipating this being made public. But I really, really wanted to share with you the exact way she first said what she said. Here (2 mins long):

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How to deal with disappointing friends; how to start speaking on stage; how to find your first clients: a Yes Yes Questions #6 Review!

This week I answer:
– How do I stop attracting people into my life that treat me like garbage?
– I’m building my first business. There’s so much to do and I don’t know where to start! What do you suggest I focus on first??
– You’ve spoken highly of your assistant and everything she does for you. When is it time to invest in a Virtual Assistant?
– I have something to share and I want to start speaking. How do I start?
– Did you have to do anything to develop and share your authenticity? I filter myself based on what I worry people will think.
– How do I start selling workshops to corporates?
– I’ve changed my business and what I do for people — how do I find new clients?
– How do I network when I live somewhere remote?
– Which of my inspiring stories should I be telling when I speak?

ALSO: i give you a free diagram to help you figure out who your clients should be when you’re starting a business or service. Click to read more!

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How to Keep an Audience Interested when you Talk or Write – by changing their brains!

Everybody’s banging on about why storytelling is important and that you should be using it. But do you know why? Here’s my favourite fact about storytelling: It actually changes…

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All of the best bits from my best videos! A Yes Yes Videos Review

PLEASE TRY NOT TO PASS OUT IN SHOCK:

Next week will see the return of a Cult Classic: The Yes Yes Marsha idiotic jokes, wigs and costume videos! And it’s going to be a gooooood one. I don’t want to throw in too many spoilers, but….

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Worried your stories aren’t exciting enough?

“I don’t know if my stories are worth telling…”

If this thought has ever crossed your mind-threshold, I have great news:

Good stories mostly aren’t about content. It’s about the way they’re told.
Think about it: we all know that one person who can make ANY story sound amazing. And we’ve all been stuck at the party with that other person, whose story you can tell has exciting elements, but dear god WHEN WILL THEY STOP, because this is mental torture.

If you need a little further proof, here is a wonderful story, about something not totally life-changing.

Added extra: this story (from my live show True Stories Told Live) was told by a journalist, who asked to come and be coached by me to tell a story, and then tell it, purely because she has a crippling fear of public speaking, and her editor wanted her to write about it.

What you can learn from that? If you’re well prepared and have a great story, you can totally fake your own confidence. Here she is, doing just that:

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How to edit your stories but still make them compelling (4/5 in the story series)

As I opened the email, my heart started racing. It was even more exciting than I’d anticipated!

Two months earlier, I’d booked my ticket for Portland’s World Domination Summit – a conference full of do-gooders trying to change the world (like me!). I’d never been before, but knew WDS was a big noise in my industry.

The month before, they’d put out a call for Attendee Storytellers. By this point, I’d been running my live storytelling show for about a year and a half (and coaching all of the storytellers), so I figured I had a good shot. After all, there were, what, 500 people at this conference? So probably 30-odd would apply, and they’d choose around 25 of us.

They needed an inspiring story with a message. I wondered what I’d ever done that was inspiring… and then remembered. Oh yeah. My solo marathon. Two years before, after Hurricane Sandy led to the cancellation of the New York City Marathon that I was due to run, I’d made up for it by running one on my own, in London.

I pitched my story to WDS – starting in an action scene – and sent it off.

“CONGRATULATIONS!” came the email. “You’ve been selected to tell an attendee story on stage!” This was nice to hear, though not unexpected. BUT THEN:

“Hundreds of people applied, and you were one of only twelve selected!”

Well, THIS was exciting! Immediately, I jumped onto Facebook, to my local business group of business ladies.

“GUYS!!!!!” I told them, “Hundreds of people applied to tell a story at WDS, and I’m one of 12 selected!!! I’m going to be telling my story to 500 people!!!”

“Dude,” one of them replied. “The WDS audience is THREE THOUSAND”.

Oh.

Crap.

After getting over the fear of speaking to a room that enormous, I had another problem:

I had to get the whole story – Inspirational Message included – down to one and a half minutes.

As I talked about in part 1 of this blog series, when you’re telling a story, you need as much of it as possible to be action scenes. And, as I told you in part 2: action scenes require detail.

So how do you get the narrative of a very eventful 42 kilometer run – that, in the end, took over 7 hours – into a minute and a half?

First…

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How to Combat Facebook Envy (and Save Lives)

We all walk around, all day every day, thinking that everyone else has their sh-t together.

We all think that everyone else has a normal background, and normal parents, and a normal, successful career and successful relationships.

Then we get on Facebook and it compounds it. “This person’s getting married!” “That person has a happy family with kids!” “this person doesn’t have kids and so they went on vacation to Costa Rica!” “That person’s making six figures in her business!” – and it just COMPOUNDS that feeling of, “Everyone else has their sh-t together but me”.

That feeling is shame. And what shame does, is builds this metal fortress around you, cutting you off from everyone else.

But then, someone…

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When I tell this story, it feels like ACTUAL Time Travel

Sitting in the packed room, I was trembling with nerves – and excitement. I’d been daydreaming about doing this for almost a year – and now it was actually happening!

After obsessively listening to every Moth story I could get my hands on, I’d spent months wondering what my story would be, if I ever told one on stage. At the time, this seemed like some kind of magical dream that might never happen – after all, The Moth was a show in New York; I lived in London. But I love a daydream, and so I continued to wonder. And figured it would most likely be something to do with my (very eccentric, mostly Russian) family.

I then discovered True Stories Told Live – a London show, inspired by the Moth, that had offshoots in other cities. I was a monthly attendee and massive fan and, after they’d seen me at every show, they’d ask me to tell my own story onstage.

There I was, about to finally do it. And when I did – telling the story you’re about to hear – I had the strangest feeling…

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