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 the death of her mother. If this had been a ten minute story, it would have been a breeze. But we needed to get ispeakers on a staget down to one. In just sixty seconds, we had to set a scene, then explain the impact it had on her, and the work she’s doing as a result.

Eventually, we managed to figure it out. Afterwards, as I met with each of the other four storytellers, I did the same for them: pulled the story out, and then figured out a way to tell it in one minute, so it still had a big impact.

The next morning, those five stood on the stage and told their stories. I was in the front row – you can see me in the video, worrying my necklace, grinning and rooting for them.

What you don’t see on there is that, for the first time in WDS’ six year history, the Attendee Storytellers got a standing ovation.

It was pretty awesome.

Want to be moved within one minute? Have a listen – here they are:

Thank you so much for reading, and for watching! If you know anyone who you think would enjoy this, you can share it with them, using one of the round buttons below. And if you’d like any help pulling out and/or shrinking your story for the stage, screen or your About page, I’d LOVE to help. Have a look here:

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha


PS This story was part of the Advent(ish) Calendar of Stories: where, every day in December, I emailed out a different short, true story.

PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo credit: the wonderful Tera at Armosa Studios

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