Women in leadership positions in credit unions: Storytelling to empower others

Picture this, I am walking off the stage after my first speaking engagement with a company. I am feeling great and saw that what I shared made an impact as the audience laughed, nodded, and applauded. As I go back to my seat, I am met with a glare from the person in charge….with this comment…”The next time you are in front of the field, don’t tell any more of your stories.  All you salespeople like to do is talk about yourselves …what kind of impact can there be in storytelling?” I thought it was both valuable and empowering…she had a different agenda.

Well you can imagine how quickly the air was sucked out of my balloon.  Here I thought I was sharing concrete examples, in the form of stories, with the field. After all, I had been there and done that and who better to give them ways to be successful than someone who had been there and done that. I thought it would give them a sense of empowerment to go out there and do what needed to be done in a way that worked. But…that wasn’t the case, at least until the surveys came back and every single one asked that I tell more stories about my life as a producer and how I went from knowing zero to being at the top. The truth is that with or without the survey results, although I didn’t realize I would inspire, motivate, empower, and teach, I wouldn’t have changed anything that I shared with those 4000 producers. If only someone would have done that when I had started, it might have been a slightly different journey. Stories and empowerment…a winning combination.

Stories are for sharing whether they are a fairy tale or a learning experience. Stories are powerful and we wait to see what happens when we turn the page or get to the next volume in the series or see how we are doing in our own journey to success.

Stories are all around us.  Everyone has a story and every situation is a story. We always hear that our stories can be a great book but in truth a story doesn’t have to become a best-seller.  Sometimes simply telling the story creates a movement or encourages people to do something or it can be a way for us to be able to just move forward. But stories are the way to connect with people whether 1:1 or in a crowd of thousands.

Let’s not forget that our brains are wired to remember stories. The brain chooses the information it wants, then remembers that information because of the emotional connection. Humans are both scientific and artistic beings, and we use the left brain and the right brain — so we function and respond to both when it comes to storytelling. And since it has the power to change us in such a way, we simply don’t forget a great story. Sometimes those great stories are very personal in nature and as they are being told, both the storyteller and the audience are hanging onto every word…and that can be in the written form as in a book, listening to the audible version or hearing it first-hand.

As an author, I share many stories that will solidify a point or make you think, learn, laugh or create any emotion.  For me personally, that is an easier way to remember.  What happens when your story is told in front of a live audience and you wonder how did you get there? More importantly why?

Many people want to be a Tedx Speaker. After all, it is an amazing way to get a story out. When I first applied to be one, I wasn’t selected, and I was just fine with that. It wasn’t my time or my theme or whatever story I told myself and I moved forward. The following year I applied again and this time I was selected. I was so excited…until I realized that the theme, “Outside the Lines” begged for me to tell my story, one that I had never told out loud before.  What was I thinking? Rather than go through the entire story, go and watch it for yourself and let me know what you think. It’s called the Greatest Missed Opportunity on YouTube…the storytelling channel of all time.

So how do you tell a story? Ask yourself, who is the audience and what is your ultimate goal? Is it inspiration or a learning opportunity or is it to connect with the people in the audience on a more intimate level?  Do you want to empower, impact or create an environment for greatness to begin? Whatever your goal is, here are some ideas:

  1. You must be interesting. Think about it…the attention span of humans is maybe a minute or two…you can make them stay interested if you give them something that is of interest to them. Their emotions must be stirred, and you must create an experience. At one point during my Tedx Talk, I could hear gasps in the audience, and I knew they were right there with me.
  2. Paint a picture so that they have a visual in their mind. Describe the “scene” in detail so they can see what you are talking about. Your goal is to make a connection with them and make them feel it.
  3. Tell a story. Start slowly and build it up so there is some excitement and then…take it down again. Let your audience experience it so that there is a bond between you. When you watch my Tedx Talk, you will see the peaks and valleys you will experience. You want the outcome to be one way and aren’t sure how it will actually end.
  4. Get them involved in the story so that you have not only gotten their attention, but you are holding it. You want to keep the experience they are feeling going on and on. You want them to feel like they are part of the conversation that is happening in front of them or on the pages before them.
  5. And what was created? A relationship…you have connected with someone or hundreds of someones on a very special level. You have found the way to tap into their imagination, their interest and gotten them involved. People will be inspired, motivated, empowered, shocked or excited…but something happened.

Stories are a way of connecting and teaching. People remember stories more than they remember statistics.  Don’t be afraid to share your story.  Someone in the audience is there to hear it…even if it is just one person you touch.

Remember, there are 2 ways to share knowledge…you can push information out or you can pull them in with your story.

Judy Hoberman

Judy Hoberman

Judy Hoberman is President of Judy Hoberman and Associates, a company focused on empowering professional women. Her company combines Sales and Leadership for Women using the philosophies of her best-selling ... Web: www.sellinginaskirt.com Details