Welcome to Make it Kick Ass, where we help leaders of growing communities bring their people together with purpose and lasting impact. Join us as we explore how to make events engaging, exciting, energizing and profitable so that you can build a healthy, sustainable community. I'm Isaac Watson, founder and lead strategist at Kick Ass Conferences.::
And I'm Nessa Jimenez, operations Manager, at Kick Ass Conferences.::
Now let's make it kick ass together. We are back with another episode of Make it Kick Ass. Hi, nessa, how you doing.::
Hi, I think I'm doing great. How are you?::
Excellent, Fresh out of that interview with Mike Pacchione was really interesting. Got to dive into storytelling and his work as a speaker coach. If you have not listened to that episode already, this is your cue to stop and go back one and listen to it first, so you have a full context of what we're about to talk about, which is our follow up. So let's just dive right into it. We talked a lot about storytelling and I'm curious like I think I learned a lot about storytelling through that conversation. What stood out for you as an admitted bad storyteller yeah, I mean not that I'm much better, as we learned. Yeah, absolutely.::
But yeah, so storytelling is this thing that we encounter every day, everywhere, but it's not something that most people are consciously thinking about. Right, we experience it through the media. We consume, right, books, movies, tv, but we don't necessarily sit to look at. Okay, why is this, this work? Why do I like this thing versus this other thing? So it was really interesting to me to take that moment to sit down and talk about that, because there was a couple of things we were talking about storytelling that popped up into my mind. So first, he told us about Ted right tension, editing in detail. I would definitely say detail.
I, as a storyteller, I give way too much detail and you mentioned that as well, like you do that too. But as he was explaining that, something that came to my mind is something that I've always heard that liars always add too many details. So if you're trying to figure out if somebody's lying to you, or like a tell of someone that's lying, is that they try to add details to make the story more believable and all that's doing is revealing themselves of like, hmm, that I don't trust this right. So, instead of building that trust, because they're giving you way too much information, it makes you distrust, right.::
Yeah, that's interesting. So are you calling yourself a liar then? Yeah, but that story is too many details.::
And that's that's why I was like wait a minute, because it is true, but at the same time, I and, I think, a lot of people with ADHD we do that because our minds are going so fast and we're thinking of so many things, and I thought it was super cool that Mike also mentioned that he had ADHD. I did not know that.
So, I was like surprised and pleased to hear that, but yeah, I don't know. I think that like maybe it's like a category, so I like liars and neurodivergent people Add too many details. So it's either one or the other.::
I'm sure that there is a Venn diagram where the two meet and overlap a little bit. Of course you're not in that slice.::
Yeah, no, no, no. It'll be like like the super. The super like way too many details, right, like you're both neurodivergent and lying, and like you're giving us way too much information.::
Well, but it's interesting because, like, I am a terrible liar but I am guilty of fabricating too many details when I do lie, and I think that part of it is that if you've no, if you're trying to cover up something or fabricate a lie, you're. I think part of the mental gymnastics of that is conjuring up anything that someone could possibly ask you about the situation so that you have an explanation, right. And then in communicating that scenario to someone, then all too much detail comes out and it's like wait a second, this is, this is a little off here, right. And so I think that what's interesting is that, on the storytelling side, the detail, or the the yeah, the detail that he was talking about is, it's like relevant detail, right, like you, there's enough to provide. There's like a baseline of context you're trying to establish, and then something in the detail that is anchoring the memory of the character or the setting or whatever the action that makes it stick.::
Right, and I think, following that line of thought, the snake oil salesman and like these marketers online, that they just, you know, the websites are like just full of information, right, and they keep that they're trying to weave this, this story, to the point where you're like, yeah, this is a scam. You know what I mean, right, right, and I think that's part, like that's a part, of being a bad storyteller, but it comes from you're trying to back up your bull crap. You know what I mean? Yeah, so that like I think, yeah, I don't know, I don't know why but that that whole thing of like too many details is lying, because he also said establishing details help people imagine where they are right, Like visualize the situation. But I think what it also does is that it builds trust. But you can go too far to the other end.::
Yeah, I think you took the word out of my mouth that there's a trust piece there and you have to provide enough detail to establish trust to like, and the trust is like trust me, I'm, there's a reason behind me telling you this story, and so the details need to be pertinent to that reason. But if you stray too far beyond that, then the person's like eh, what even like? Why? Why are you even talking about that? What you know? How how does that actually relate? Is that going to come back around in the end, or not?::
Yeah, and there's this concept and storytelling that it's called check off gun in fact one, where it basically says, like an act one, if you're showing the audience a gun in act two, somebody's going to use that gun right, Like something's gonna happen with it, or else why did you show it to me? And I think, especially in TV there's so many TV shows that do this like they show you the gun which can be you know anything right, and then it never pays off and it's just so unsatisfying. You know like what?::
was the point of this.::
Like I watched this show for like six seasons and, like you know, he just left me hanging Right. So I think that as well, in terms of like a marketing or like a community standpoint, community leadership standpoint, what things are you presenting to people or bringing up that you're not necessarily paying off, Right?::
Right, right Good.::
Yeah, no, I see this in paid membership communities where, before you pay, they've weaved this great story right and they've told you like all these benefits, all these things, and then when you get into the actual you know program, half of the stuff that they promised or that they said that you would get, like these, it's not there or it's not what, not to the degree or to the quality that you were expecting right. Yeah.::
I think that the other especially as we think about like leadership, there's this kind of goes back to the conversation we were having with Mike around empathy.
I started to talk about it being an ego driven thing, but you know, as we continue to talk about, realize it really is about empathy. There can be an element of ego involved but that empathy is really key to establishing a good relationship, especially as a leader to community that they're leading and you want to establish empathy within the community members as well. And I think that story can be a really useful tool to that end because it helps. It can help kind of unite people around core value or a purpose or a shared goal in a way that is accessible for people because they can relate to it right and allows you to show a little bit, especially as a leader, to show some vulnerability and whatnot.
And you know Mike talked about how some of his corporate clients really struggled with that, those aspects of vulnerability and acknowledging their own mistakes and things like that. I think that a lot of that is rooted in the corporate hustle culture and stuff that is starting to shift. I think Maybe it's not shifting fast enough or as deeply enough, but any leader that can take the opportunity to work with their team or their community or whoever it is that they're serving, and open up and share stories in a way that is more personal and human and vulnerable, will allow them to establish better connections. It builds that empathy.::
Right, and Mike made a really good point about sometimes the story is the talk. The story that you tell is the part that people will remember, and not just that they remember the story, but it's because of the story that they understand the lesson or the takeaway or the main point of what you were trying to express. Right, and speaking of storytellers, he also brought up a speaker that he worked with during the craft what was it called Craft and Commerce, craft and Commerce that you actually mentioned that same talk to me as well, so I wanted to give you a chance to like tell us about that talk and why it was so good.::
Yeah. So Amy Porterfield was the speaker. She's been a known online entrepreneur for a very long time. I've never seen her speak before and this is the first opportunity. I thought that was kind of fascinating. She's giving the closing keynote and what's funny is like Mike was describing that. You know, you may not remember anything about her talk, but everybody who was there will remember this moment that he described, which is sitting down with her, with the mediator across the table, from a business partner they were trying to separate each other from the business and her finally having this moment of realization that she was willing to burn it all down and start from scratch rather than concede. Whatever it was was on the table. And that was the moment and that, like that, was a. That was the most impactful talk for me out of the entire conference that I listened to. I remember coming back and going.::
God, amy Porterfield's talk was like spoken to my soul. It was exactly what I needed at this time. I resonate so much with it and yet, as he was describing that, I was like, yeah, I don't remember anything else she talked about except for that moment. Here we are, two months on and that's that's how it lands. So I think that story was a critical piece of illustrating what she was trying to get across, and it's like if there was one thing people were going to take away from her entire talk, that story was it. Yeah, and I think it was really effective because it gets across the ultimate point of the thing. You could remember more and have a little bit more depth around your comprehension, which is great, and I took some notes, which was also good.
I also recorded a piece of it, so that I can review it later, but at the end of the day, that story is what sticks and that is the. That is the key in that context to be able to leave the audience with this really tight impression of what you're trying to say.::
Yeah, and when you came back from that conference you told me about it and the part that I remember is that same part.::
Yes, and it's like Mike was saying, like I can then retell that story Someone else. I may omit a couple of details, I may not be able to sell it with the same conviction because it didn't happen to me, but I can share that core premise with other people in this kind of encapsulated thing and I think that's what's really powerful. I don't know, I'm curious if there are other storytellers that you've encountered in your life, whatever that that stood out to you, or specific experiences where all you remember is that core, core story told.::
Yeah, so in my life, like my father is an incredible storyteller, Everyone will tell you like they love hearing him tell his stories. I did not inherit that skill. Like he's super funny. He's really good at creating that tension, at editing, like keeping it to the point, Right, Like just I don't know where he gets it from, but definitely has that natural talent. And like my entire life, you know, everywhere we'd go, where there'd be family gatherings or whatever, like it would always end up with like my dad just telling stories about things that happened to him as a kid or things that you know. Funny stories, weird stories, like to the point where it's. It's, it's embarrassing. Like I have been to wakes and funerals and like we're trying to be like respectful and like my dad has a bunch of people in the back just like laughing their asses off because he's telling their stories. That like has nothing to do with like what's going on. And my mother like looking at him like Jesus Christ.::
Like this is not the place.::
So yeah, he's an and immediately it comes to mind just like an incredible and it's a natural talent. It's not like anybody taught him to do it, it's just I don't know. He's just so good at it. But what about? What about you? Does anybody come to mind for you?::
Well, you know, you talking about your dad makes you think of one of my grandpas, who was a a compulsive yarn spinner, right. Like talk about liars, adding too many details. This is a man who loved gathering the grandchildren around holding court and telling a tall tale.::
Right, and that was where, like more detail than was necessary, we were kids, we didn't know any better. Right, he was talking about left-handed side shifters and and wampus cats and whatever Like you just make stuff up, and it wasn't until I was probably a teenager when I started to realize that he was completely full of it.::
It was all bullshit. It was all lies Well, and.::
But what's interesting is that it makes you start to question. Some of the like are were there true stories in there? Right, it's one thing to to imagine, to, you know, be regaled by a story of an imaginary creature that's hiding up the woods on a camping trail, but it's another thing to have somebody like that, who's kind of entire personality is made up of those kinds of of yarns, and then to have him tell a story about his childhood and you're like well, was, was that embellished?
Yeah, you know like there's a little bit of distrust there, yeah, but he was certainly one of those people who could just he would wrap People are around his fingers. No, yeah, yeah, wrap people around his fingers. I think In a similar way and would constantly like lean on that as his core personality trait.::
Right and regardless of the stories being true or not, like I know, over the years my dad's stories, like the details, have changed. You know they've gotten a. Some stories have become like one story right from like two or three and but those are the people that others remember, right, and people will remember that their stories. Like I have a, I have a neighbor who just loves my father and like he, he'll come over. Sometimes I'm like request stories.
Yeah, and my dad like god, you know, and he gets him started and there he goes. You know, I mean like it's just, it's just, yeah, it's. It's a great skill and people, well, we gravitate towards it. I know that you, in our conversation with Mike, you mentioned that like we're hard wired For a story, right Like it's just in her, it's in our genes, like for as long as there has been people right Before recorded history. Like that's how we shared Important information, all that stuff through stories, absolutely.::
And I think that even in the case of my grandpa where, or maybe even in in the case of your dad, um, even if there's inconsistencies, or if they're half-baked stories or their yarns or tall tails or whatever.
There's still a uniting effect around them. Like I can get together with any of my cousins now as we are full-fledged adults. My grandpa died, I don't know, 10 or 12 years ago and we can sit around and we can all recollect the stories that he told. You could say one where we could say left-handed side shifter, and we'd all start laughing and it was like this shared moment that we had in time.
Yes, and so I think that, to that end, stories are really useful and and very, very powerful. The one other example that actually just popped in my head a minute ago Um, I had a my eighth grade math teacher. Eighth grade, no, not eighth grade. I was in high school, 10th grade math teacher. Um, she, we get into class. I think this was pre-calculus. Okay, probably the proud is. I think it was pre-calculus.::
We get into class and she launches into this like historical tale about um Canon, balls on ships and the math that needed to be used to fabricate these things to keep them from the pyramids of balls from falling. Anyway, I don't remember the story. Yeah, all I remember is the punchline, which was all just one gigantic joke that ended with and that's how we get the saying it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And like I think about that now and like what the hell was a 10th grade math teacher?::
Talking about that and and how was that used to teach pre-calculus? Yeah, like um, but like that. But there's like it was a story and the punchline like Every time I hear that phrase, I think of that teacher and that particular math thoughts wherein I did not learn a thing.::
Nice. Yeah, no, I was. I've always been terrible at math, so same. But. But following that vein, then, and and this is actually something that I've thought about, to the point where, like One day, I would like to figure out how to give a talk about this but connecting storytelling back to when, when we're building communities or learning about communities, studying them, storytelling can also play a part in in what's called shared language. Right, and shared languages is what also strengthens community ties and deepens relationships among people. And so you can be like you said with your grandpa, like You'll say a phrase and in front of the right people, like everybody knows what's up, right, everybody knows what you're talking about, and you have a little moment and you have a little laugh, while people who weren't there, who don't know what that means, it might be a little confused, but it also might spark curiosity, where someone will ask, like, what's that about? And then that's an opportunity to invite Someone in to that group, right?
Like there's opportunity there to grow the group through that shared language, through that storytelling. So I think that that it forms an essential part, even if we're not consciously thinking about it, but I think we should Give more conscious thought to that. Now, moving on to another part of our conversation this I'm glad I don't even remember who asked the question, but I'm glad that we asked about, like, narrative versus story, because I did not understand that difference and so I wanted to get your thoughts on that, like as he was explaining that to us. Like what? What was your reaction to that?::
I mean I think I said this much at the time but like he started explaining Mm-hmm what one of them was and I thought he was talking about story and it turned out he was talking Right. So I think that that right there illustrated that it was a useful question to ask, at least for my benefit. I think what's interesting? I mean we think about narrative a lot in the context of the work we do, especially around like an emcee or a host for an event. Hmm, we always try to find somebody who can help kind of weave that thread or thread that need. I don't I'm mixing my metaphors now but who can Create that tie a narrative between all of the talks or at least encapsulate and relate them to each other To help the audience Follow along that journey.
We also, when we look at a speaker lineup, we look at their topics and we we try to construct a little bit of a narrative as well. That could just be thematic segments, that could be Something like you know, maybe there's a beginning, middle, end to things or beginner, intermediate, advanced, like whatever that is. We we try to weave some narrative into the program because doing so helps reduce friction for the audience, it helps increase comprehension and it helps Build upon topics in a way that can be really beneficial at the outcome. So it was interesting to hear him talk about that in the context of giving a talk and how a Story is often a segment within a larger narrative that you're trying like a story is used as an example or a connection point or a Kind of an inflection in this like journey.
You know whether that's the hero's journey trope or some other aspect. I mean he gave the example of the person who hacked the dating algorithm or whatever right and how the the narrative was. I started here, which in and of itself was kind of a story, but like the broad journey of. I started here frustrated with dating, I figured out how to work the system and now I've lived heavily ever after. But the stories were embedded in that as as points along the way and I thought that was really interesting.::
Right, and us as producers, when we have speakers on stage, we never want the audience Asking like where is this going or how does this fit? What's the point, right, and what you're saying earlier about like MCs and hosts having someone with that talent to say, okay, we had this talk, now we're gonna move on to the next one, and being able to bring them along and and help them the audience connect, like why, why this order, why this and now this other one? Right, or even within a talk, if someone's telling a story, but I'm not understanding the point, like where's this going? Like great story, but how does this fit in where? Where are you taking me?::
Yeah, and that's not to say that the audience is dumb or can't get it. It's that you know, as, as a host of an event, as an organizer, you are Inviting people into your space For a specific reason that you have decided needs to exist, and so you need to help leave them along that journey so that they Know where to go, know, like, what you're trying to get across. And if you, through either an MC or a host or or some other Kind of format, can help guide people through that narrative, like I said, it's gonna reduce friction, right?
You're not gonna get as much cognitive dissonance You're not gonna get as much Confusion over, or or even like understanding, like was this, was this like back-to-back lineup, intentional or is this purely Circumstantial?
right like we've had conferences in the past where, like core themes or merge across the topics, it's like, oh, so-and-so touched on this here and then you know, later on in the day someone else touched on the same thing but went a little bit different direction with it, and then we built on it here. Like that can be intentional. And so taking the opportunity to, you know, build the trust with the audience and take them along on that journey is really, really Useful, because they don't necessarily know that that's where you're gonna go or how to get there.::
Right, and then, even stepping back a little from that, you get an audience. If it's not done, well, you have an audience member going. Is this for me, like, is this, should I be here, right? You know, when it's done badly, because they're not, they're not on board, they're like totally lost, right.::
Right, it's like Michael saying like you get one huh and the second you get a second huh. Moment, he's lost them, it's done, it's over yeah they've disengaged there.::
If it's a virtual event, they've closed the window right there doing other stuff. They're at the event there, they're on their phone, right, like if it's in person. Right, they might not walk out, but they'll be on their phone or they're just confused and and and and. I think Mike brought up a great point and I think, overall, like the biggest takeaway for me was when he said people are looking for relatable and not remarkable. So we're not. People aren't expecting like these wild, like amazing stories to feel connected. They want to have an experience that is relatable to them, even though that's not their specific experience. Right, like your story might be something that happened to you, but they get it on a human level.::
Yes, and that relation is, that is the empathy piece which I think is critical to everything. We talk a lot about context in the work that we do and how important that context is and, honestly, that context just fuels our empathy for what it is our clients are trying to achieve or how we're trying to establish empathy with with their audience members.::
Yeah, and the kind of stories that make sense for that audience. If we're talking about context, right, understanding the audience, who they are, where they're coming from, you don't want to tell a story that Makes no sense for them, right? Like maybe they don't have the cultural context for the story, right, and then instead of helping make your point or helping the audience, you've just alienated them because they have no frame of reference for what you're talking about, right?::
Yeah, yeah, I think, if I can bring it all back to this kind of overarching theme or narrative that we are constructing with the season of the podcast, because it is also intentional is that storytelling isn't an eight human connection point and that by focusing on storytelling in the work that we do in the communities that we lead and how we present content from stage, we can make events more human and we are trying to make a more pro-human environment and pro-human workplace. And so I think that's like that's the core for me Tell more stories, be more human, connect with more people and we'll all be better for it.::
Thanks for listening to this episode of Make it Kick Ass. We hope you found it entertaining and helpful. If hosting a community event is on your radar, visit GetEventLabcom to take our free 30-minute training called Community Event Mastery. That's GetEventLabcom, or use the link in the show notes. Make it Kick Ass is hosted by Isaac Watson and Nessa Jimenez. Post-production audio by Chris Nelson at Mittens Media. Our theme song is Feel it by Dojo for Crooks. Make it Kick Ass is a production of Kick Ass Conferences, an event strategy and design agency serving leaders of growing communities.