Speaking Your Message Isn’t Enough—Write Your Story Too!
Telling your story is tough, especially when you have deep emotional ties to it. And, really, who doesn’t? As Jessica taught me, you’ve got to take a step back from some of those deep feelings you have so you can tell your story and not dwell on it. When you’re speaking, your audience can hear your feelings in your tone of voice, your stature, your facial expressions and the pregnant pauses you use to emphasize certain points.
But writing is different. When you’re writing, you lose all those non-verbal cues that are so important to your audience. And you need to make up for them in your words and your written voice.
Writing is more permanent too. As you well know, anything that shows up online is there forever! A scary thought, right? But I don’t like to write. I’m no good at it. No one wants to read my story. What if the wrong person reads it? Okay, stop that right now!
People want to know your story—especially your audience. They want to get to know you better, find out what makes you tick and grow to trust (better yet, like) you. Not only that, your written story (or part of it) is a great piece of content to share on social media, in your email newsletter and on your blog. It’s there to get you noticed.
The most important thing to remember when you start writing down your story? Be you! After all, it’s your story! But how do you make it powerful and effective when you don’t enjoy writing (or think you’re not good at it)?
- Get it all down. Start by brain-dumping your story, if you haven’t already. Put it all down on paper, without worrying about grammar, spelling or any other writing rules you learned in your high school English class. Cuss, cry, use run-on sentences. Just get it all down. And if you’re having trouble getting it all out, try Jessica’s Story Bank Challenge in her Facebook group next week!
- Weed through it. Now that you’ve gotten the difficult part out of the way, start weeding through your story to find what you want to share. You’re not going to want to share it all, because your audience isn’t going to connect with your whole story—not all at once, clearly, and maybe not ever. Some parts of your story may be just for you and your close friends.
Select two or three parts of your story that you want your audience to know about. For me, I want people to know about some lessons I’ve learned since I made my business to my full time job. And I also think it’s important that they know how I’ve invested in my business or who—and what—has truly influenced my business and so I can be where I am today (though you’re going to have to wait on that one). Some of my audience may not necessarily need to know why I made the big leap I did. And they certainly don’t need to know some of the messy details!
- Find your voice. Once you know some of the story parts you want to share with your audience, it’s time to find your voice. This can be a challenge, but I have a worksheet that can help you dive into who you are and who your business is. There’s nothing earth-shattering here; just some questions that help you dive a bit deeper so you can really focus your message on your core values and what’s important in your business.
- Start writing. Easier said than done, right? But it’s true. The fastest way to the finish line is to just get started. Take that one piece of your story and start writing it down, with your Find Your Voice worksheet nearby. Stay true to your influencers and how you and your business are unique. Don’t fall into the “venting” trap; tell a story instead. There’s truly no need to hang your dirty laundry for all to see. Stick to the one message you want to tell. And offer pieces of advice and your ah-ha moments in an effort to help your audience.
- Put it away. Any time you write something personal or emotional, it’s important to put it away for 24 hours. Come back to it in a different frame of mind and really check yourself. When you reread your story, is it truly “you” talking? Is it riddled with emotional language, or can your audience feel your emotion through your words?
- Share it! Sharing your story is tough, especially if you haven’t shared it widely before. Start by sharing it with a few select people who you trust and who already know this part of your story. Ask them if it’s “you.” Then share it with your people—on your blog, in Facebook groups, in your newsletter. Wherever you think it might be appropriate and it will reach the right people. It’s a great tool to connect with others and to really let them see who you are underneath all your business branding.
Writing your story can be scary, but I’ve found it to be very cathartic. Every time I write about myself and my story, I learn new things about myself and I open the doors to who I am just a bit more to those who didn’t “know me when.”
And, yes, your story will exist forever as soon as it’s live. But it doesn’t change who you are. In fact, it spotlights it. Be proud, and speak out!