This week’s conversation with Lisa Evans fits under the P of Promotion of the Humane Marketing Mandala. We are talking about telling the stories that matter for your business. As you’ll hear in the episode there is a fine line between being vulnerable in telling your story and oversharing.
Lisa is the Director of Speaking Savvy and the Lead Trainer of the Soft Skills Academy. She is a Certified Speaking Professional, Certified Virtual Presenter, TEDx Speaker Coach, Host of the Business Chat Podcast, and Radio Show Host.
"You don't have to have a rags to riches story to be a great storyteller. The best stories are in the simple, the best stories are in the ordinary." – @SpeakingSavvy @sarahsantacroce #humanemarketing Click To Tweet
She has been coaching clients to become stand-out presenters and speakers for over 10 years and her area of expertise is helping senior leaders to tell better business stories. Before becoming a coach Lisa spent over two decades as a health professional and began her career as a midwife. One of her clients named her The Story Midwife and it kinda stuck!
In this episode, you’ll learn about telling the stories that matter for your business as well as…
- How to know which stories matter (every story has a reason and a season)
- Your origin story and ways to tell it
- Lisa’s personal story and how a health setback led her to be an exceptional speaker
- Encouragement and tips to start with storytelling
- And much more…
Connect with Lisa on:
Marketing Like We’re Human – Sarah’s book
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Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for listening!
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Lisa: Hi, Sarah. I’m delighted to be here.
Sarah: Oh, I’m so happy to have this conversation. It’s kind of, is there a second or third? At least I know that I was on your podcast earlier. And so now I get the pleasure to have you online, which is wonderful. And we chose this topic of storytelling, which I know.
Close to your heart. And so I wanted to know if you have always considered yourself a good storyteller. Tell us about that.
Lisa: Yeah, well, I’ve [00:08:00] always considered myself a storyteller. Not necessarily a good storyteller, mainly because of my age, because definitely before the internet, we didn’t even have a color TV until dad bought one home for the Montreal Olympics.
So that was a long time ago. So I grew up. On stories when I was little. And then that carried on into my, of late teenage years and early twenties when I began my nurse training. So when I became a nurse at a young age, I was 17 and a half. We didn’t have counseling, we didn’t have psychology services. We had to suck it up and get on with it.
So when we had a bad day and we saw a lot of trauma, which you do when you’re a nurse who working in acute care, the only outlet we really had in order. Debrief with our colleagues about our day was through stories. So stories also can be used to heal as well. So I guess that I became a natural storyteller and it was then later in life that I joined.
[00:09:00] The pieces of the puzzle together and got more interested in helping entrepreneurs and business owners and even large organizations in how to tell several different stories, their own story, their signature story, their leadership story, and the story about their brands and their services and, and products.
So I’ve definitely learned how to tell stories better, but I think we’re. We are all storytellers. We all have the, the, the information that we need. We’ve got a lifetime of, of stories. It’s just learning how to get those out and feel comfortable sharing the stories. Wow.
Sarah: I’m yeah. I’m so curious uh, about one thing as well, because when I heard you speaking, I was thinking. What about what does reading have to do with storytelling? Right? Because when we’re reading, we’re not actually well telling a story, but we’re definitely absorbing stories. So were you also a, a big reader?
Lisa: I was a big reader. And I think that today definitely reading helps you to experience the [00:10:00] characters and the landscapes and the plot and the, and the story in a very sensory way. And of course we need that sensory language, but I think that we need to always be mindful that writing is, is very, very different to, to speaking.
And when somebody. Reads from a page or speaks something that they have completely memorized or that it’s been written to be read. It doesn’t sound right when it’s, when it’s spoken. So definitely yes. Read to immerse yourself in, in characters and, and sensory sensory language, but never read your story out loud.
Sarah: Mm, that, yeah. Okay. That’s interesting. So, so it helps to tell better stories, I guess, because we. You know, we kind of, I noticed that when writing my own book it helps to, I’m a, I’m an avid reader. Like I read so many books just like you, I know that you are always posting about the latest books you’re reading.
Yeah. And, and, and yeah, I think [00:11:00] reading books definitely also then helps you with writing because you just kind of know. You know, the turns of phrases you just kind of yeah. It, it just kind of flows better, I guess, as compared to if you weren’t reading at all. But yeah, yeah. With the storytelling that it’s not the same.
If you read your story,
Lisa: obviously. And you definitely don’t need to be a good writer, cuz that can be a barrier for many people. A lot of my stories, I don’t even write down, I just use my phone. I hit voice record. I’ve got an idea for a story. I’ll just speak it into a voice memo. I might be walking around or doing something.
I get an idea in my head or I’ll draw it. I, I like doing little graphics. So if, if you don’t consider yourself to be a good writer, Doesn’t mean to say you can’t share stories. I
Sarah: think that’s a good reminder for people because sometimes we do get stuck with the, you do writing, right. And, and another thing people tell me, [00:12:00] tell me about my books is like, it’s an easy read.
And, and so at the beginning I was like, is that a compliment or like a hidden criticism, but I do kind of write, like I would speak. Right? Yeah. And so I’m not a, you know, a novel writer. Definitely not. And so I think for stories, if we think about, you know, social media, it, these stories need to be told exactly how you would tell them, I guess, in spoken words, would you agree?
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Makes it more authentic. Makes it more real. And I think that’s definitely a, a compliment, sir. If somebody says that it’s an easy read. that’s good. Nobody wants a hard read that they’ve got to struggle to get their head around. So that’s awesome. Well done.
Sarah: thank you. Yeah. Like the inner critic voice kind of like, well, I wanted it to be sophisticated but, but yeah, no, that’s not who I am.
How do we then [00:13:00] know which stories to tell? Because I think I even notice myself sitting, you know, I use mainly LinkedIn and so I sit there and go, okay, what kind of story can I tell? And you’re surrounded by stories all day long, but then when it comes to actually sharing them, your brain kind of blocks you.
And you’re like, well, which one.
Lisa: Yeah. I, I think the best thing that I like to do, and I encourage others to do is to start a story bank, just like a piggy bank. You’re collecting your, your stories. There may only be little, little snippets of information or anecdotes or examples, and you just store them up somewhere.
Some people use a note. Book or an index card system or an app like Evernote or, or OneNote. And so you’re capturing your, your stories. And then when you want a story down the track to illustrate a particular point, you’ve got lots of material at hand and, you know, stories have got a, they’ve got a reason.
They’ve got a season and. The most [00:14:00] important thing about a story is it’s gotta be ready to tell it’s gotta be ripe. It’s gotta be that perfect moment because there may be stories in our lives that for whatever reason, we’re not yet ready to share. And I think that we’ve always got to remember that we are the curators of our own stories and we get to choose which stories to tell and who we are gonna share them with.
But the most important thing of all is. The story that we’re telling ourselves. So we’ve gotta get rid of our own negative narratives and those stories that don’t help us in order to be able to step up and speak and share whether that’s marketing your book or writing your book or believing yourself, or putting out things in business.
So we’ve really got two sorts of stories. We’ve got our internal stories and our own narratives. And we’ve got the stories that, that we share. So I think it can be hard just like it can be hard to sit in front of a blank workbook and, and come up with some [00:15:00] writing, same with finding stories. But if you, if you start collecting stories, like have a, have a bank of them, then you’ll, you’ll never run out.
Sarah: Hmm. Yeah, that’s a good idea. It could be, could be like a notebook, but it could also be like snippets. You know, if you’re more into using online tools, it could be Evernote or whatever Trello
Lisa: board yeah. You using, or even Pinterest or voice notes, you know, voice notes are great because they sync across all your devices.
It doesn’t matter where you are. You can hit record and just do a 62nd voice note and give it a, a tag. Or a keyword and you’ll be able to, to find it again. So that’s the important thing, particularly as, as you get older is you, you might see something or hear something, oh, that that’ll make a great story and you forget all about it.
So not only you wanna quickly capture the essence of that story, but you also also want to take a moment and tune into how that story made you. Mm, because it’s, it’s that [00:16:00] emotion that, that has that impact. So you ask yourself, you know, if you see something and you, and you think, you know, that’s not right, or isn’t that wonderful, you know, it’s evoked an emotional response in you.
So it’s important when we capture our story to also put. And I felt joy or I felt gratitude, or I felt frustrated or angry about something that’s that’s happening. Cuz that will also help you when you are then telling your story. You’re reliving that story and that experience to dial into that emotion that you felt at the time.
Sarah: Yeah. So good. So many different things I wanna kind of go back to that you just said. So the first thing is obviously the emotion. Yeah. That’s where we connect. Right? If we’re telling a, a story in, for example, what I sometimes see is, is, you know, stories being told in the third person, like on someone’s website, you know, the about page, for example, if it, if I read an about page and instant in the third person, [00:17:00] There is no emotional connection.
I don’t feel connected to the person. And so I think that would probably be a, be a first, I don’t know if you agree at this telling your story, obviously, and your first person.
Lisa: Absolutely. Yeah. Present tense. First person is always better. And, and often when I’m coaching people in their, in their story and we might do the, you know, stop, stop, start when I’m coaching them, they might say something like and then we broke up and I moved to America.
I go, hang on, hang on. You broke up. How did you feel? Mm. Yeah, I was devastated. I couldn’t stop crying for a week. You know, they were brushing over that emotion. Right. And, and that’s the important part. Even if you don’t, don’t decide to share at all, but you’ve still gotta think about, okay. How did you feel when you got that call and the breakup happened?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Sarah: That’s so good. I think you’re right. We’re we. Wanting to kind of quickly get our story out there. And so we [00:18:00] just kind of share headlines and when you read it, it’s like, you know, nothing, nothing happens where on the other hand, you don’t have to exaggerate. I as the humane marketer, I’m always careful also about, you know, using pain points in, in, in stories and things like that.
So you don’t have to exaggerate feelings either and, you know, make people, people feel bad or, or, or worse. But yeah, that’s how we connect is with the emotion and with the feelings. The other thing you brought up is this idea I guess kind of a vulnerability, because you said there’s a, every story has a reason and a season, and I love that.
It’s such a good way to remember. You know, what’s the reason of the story. And is it the right season, I guess, to tell this story and, and that goes with, you know, timely, current events out there, I guess, but it’s also for ourselves. Do I feel like I am [00:19:00] willing to share this story or, or not? So what’s your take on vulnerability and probably also kind of this trend of sharing too much information to get something.
Lisa: that has become very apparent, you know, the work of the wonderful Brene brown Brene brown has been around for a long time, but her work was popularized through the Netflix series. And I think that your vulnerability became the word. And I think there was a very fine line between vulnerability and overs.
We do need to be ready to tell our story. If you are standing in front of a group of people and you cannot get through your story without breaking down and falling apart, probably not the right time to tell your story, you probably haven’t done the inner work. You haven’t done enough. Growing you haven’t done enough healing.
Now we can get caught off guard and our emotions can bubble to the surface, but generally you’ve gotta have done the inner work. And then I [00:20:00] also see I’ve been in, in audiences where somebody’s done the inner work and they feel that their story is ready to share, but they haven’t really thought about how their story is potentially going to land and impact.
With the audience. We don’t want to trigger our audience and leave them walking out, feeling low and feeling, feeling horrid. So we’ve gotta carefully craft that story that even if we’re sharing a story that doesn’t have a happy ending and that’s life, not every story has to have a, a happy ending, but we are leaving the audience with something to take away that.
Inspirational or poignant or has a real meaning and purpose to it. So every story does need to have a, a, a carry out. Yeah. So I think that there’s a very fine line with the vulnerability and, and the potentially oversharing, but at the end of the day, it’s gotta feel right for you because if you’re up.
In front of an audience, whether it’s in front of a [00:21:00] camera or on stage. And you feel as though you’ve gotta push yourself to be more vulnerable, you’re going to look awkward and uncomfortable. If that’s how you feel inside people are going to see that. And then if you are up the front looking awkward and uncomfortable, how does that make your audience feel?
They feel awkward and uncomfortable too. Right? So it’s really picking. Right time. It’s tough.
Sarah: Yeah. And I, I totally agree with you and I, I would go even further and say you know, there there’s been marketers, unfortunately also who, who kind of are in this authenticity trend and then use stories with a lot of vulnerability in order to get something, to, you know, sell more of them or sell more of their coaching or sell, you know?
And so that’s also not. What we want from our or audience, we don’t want to use our story in a way that gets something we want to [00:22:00] yes. Connect with our audience, make sure that they resonate with our story, but not in a manipulative way. This, like I’ve seen this trend where marketers could start telling all these old stories Just because, you know one guy started telling that he was abused when he was seven years old and then all of a sudden it was like one after the other.
And, and so you start to actually question the truth of these stories, which is sad because you know, who knows maybe they were all true, but it kind of became this thing where we felt like what’s going on here. This is a marketer. Is he doing this? You know, for a reason and for the wrong reason,
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, you know, these days people have got more of a BS meter that they can possibly sense when one of those stories is, is coming and, and people switch off to that these days, I believe.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. The BS meter the [00:23:00] last, last two years for sure has gone, gone up a lot.
And so yeah, I I’m just, and I think that’s also, I told you before we started recording I’m kind of not a big fan anymore of this idea of the, the hero arc story, you know, where they started to feel like. All the same to me where, you know, there’s a struggle, we overcome it. And then there’s a huge, happy ending.
And now a millionaire. And I don’t have any problems anymore to me, even if that’s true, that’s just not an interesting story to me anymore. And, and yet it’s used and recommended in coaching a lot. So what’s your take on, on kind of these artificial stories?
Lisa: Yeah, I think that it definitely helps to have a structure to your story and to have a framework, particularly if you are learning to tell stories, it, it does give you some, some guidelines.
You don’t have to follow the arc from one point [00:24:00] to another. You can start at. At any point, really? I think that definitely a story does need to have an element of tension. A story does need to have some conflict and some change. So every story is evidence of a transformation that’s taken place. But the thing is, people think about struggle on conflict as huge people think about transformation.
As I became a millionaire, I climbed Everest. I conquered the world. No, it can be a very small transformation. It can be somebody said something. And that made you think about your own behavior or your actions, and you decided to do things differently or you decided to apologize. That’s a transformation.
So it doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to have a rags to richest story to make a great storyteller there. The best stories are in the simple, the best stories are in the ordinary. If you think about a trip to the supermarket, particularly in the tough times that we’re in now, you know, [00:25:00] you never get a whole lot when you’re just getting to go out these days, a ride on public transport, an interaction with a stranger, a customer service experience.
They’re all. Possible stories that you can, that you can tell. And we certainly want to move away from stories that are all about me. Nobody wants to hear an all about me story. Nobody cares about your story until they care how much your story helps them. Right. So we also need to be mindful of, of that.
What’s the point, what’s the purpose of your story? We need to set an intention in all of our speaking, even more so in our storytelling. So I do like the, I do like the arc. I do like some frameworks and, and formulas, and I certainly sort of teach modifications of those, but just think about the small things, because the small things that are more ordinary are more relatable.
Sarah: Yeah. I like that a lot. What I also did in, in [00:26:00] the marketing, like we’re human book. Instead of telling this hero a story I told the beginning of the hero, a story, and then I said, look, I’m still in the middle of this thing. Right. I’m not there yet. And I feel like it, this really connects with a lot of my readers because they can relate.
They’re like, Look, she’s not the hero. She’s just like us in the middle of figuring things out. She has a message to share, but it’s not like, oh, you know, she’s now made it and has figured it all out. So I feel like instead of always sharing stories where we have figured it all out these smaller stories, like you mentioned before, That really show we’re human as well.
And we’re just in the middle of things, just like everybody else. Those are the stories that really speak to me.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And, and it’s often a good story. We’ll have somebody else as the [00:27:00] hero. In that story and you as the business owner or the leader or the organization, you are the mentor in, in the story.
You’re the guide. You’re the guru who offers a, a handout and a help to, to somebody else to make their life better. So you can also think about where you wanna position yourself in, in the story and often the best place for you is as the mentor. So you’re really shining a light on somebody else’s journey.
mm-hmm and yeah, there’s a little piece about how you helped, but that’s very much in, in the background,
Sarah: us introverts. We really like that. Right. We like to shine the lights on, on others.
Lisa: Definitely. Yeah. All about us. Yeah. I love that. Definitely.
Sarah: What about your story then? I, I know it, I kind of read it a bit in the intro, but I would love for you to explain a bit about your story.
Lisa: Yes. I began my career as a midwife. I’m from London and I trained as a nurse and became a midwife. And then I specialized, it [00:28:00] became a neonatal intensive care midwife. And I always wanted to be a nurse. I knew that I wanted to be a nurse and that was to be my, my forever career. And it was through my career that I got the opportunity to move.
Australia. And I spent almost two decades working as an intensive care midwife. So much joy, helping to bring new life into the world and look after tiny babies on life support. And then one day my life changed drastically when a virus destroyed. Most of my hearing, I was left with a tiny amount of sound on one side only.
And because the intensive care environment is very technical, very challenging and demanding. I could no longer do that job. So I literally had to reinvent myself and, and think what an earth am I going to do? And that was tough. I was already 40 wondering, you know, who’s gonna have me, what am I gonna do?
And also navigating permanent and severe. Hearing loss. I got on a research trial and I got the amazing [00:29:00] gift of a cochlear implant. And that was the beginning of me learning to hear and speak all over again in a very different way. And that was a very long journey. And it was in that journey, rehabilitating using the cochlear implant that I got interested in speaking, and I started to sign up with mentors and coaches and various programs.
From around the, the world and went on this speaking journey and reconnected with my, my love of, of storytelling and then decided that I wanted to be a, a speaker coach and a storyteller and a professional speaker, and, and to also teach and, and help and help others. So these days I work with. With leaders, helping leaders to have high, high impact communication skills, presentation skills, speaking of course, business storytelling.
And a couple of years ago, one of my clients, when he was introducing me, we’d had a bit of a chat and he asked me, have I always been a speaker? And I told him, I used to be a midwife. And some people are like, whoa. You know, it’s a chalk and cheese. [00:30:00] And when he introduced me in front of the crowd, he introduced me as the story midwife and is kind.
Up because I do still bring life into the world, but very different. I encourage people to bring their stories into the world. So I still feel as though I’ve got a wonderful position of privilege, being able to nurture and, and birth those stories. So, you know, sometimes in life we don’t get to choose.
We get sent on this huge detour and. hopefully the detour ends up to be a scenic route. So there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t miss being a midwife. But I absolutely love, love what I do now.
Sarah: Mm. What a beautiful story. Yeah. That is just wonderful. And it just, it just strikes me like this, you know, connecting the dots backwards, and now you are.
Really into speaking and telling stories and, and having [00:31:00] lost your hearing, it just kind of like strikes me as well. Obviously that was the next step. If you lose something right, then you really want to highlight it and make this your thing now because you gained it back and it’s.
Lisa: Yeah, just, yeah. And I hadn’t really thought about it at the time.
I had no idea I was lost for quite some, some time and right. And in that space of, you know, why me and what am I gonna do? Yeah. I felt sorry for myself for a while, which is that natural or grieving process. But I, I remember I had a, an interview on, on radio and when they wrote up the blur for the interview, They gave the piece, the title in losing her hearing.
She discovered her voice. And I thought, I like that. I’m gonna use that. And it’s true. And I remember when I went to see the professor in order to get onto the research trial, it was competitive and he only had so many places. He had a lot of people who could have done with being part of the program and.[00:32:00]
We did all the clinical tests and the, and the sort of health related questions. And then he turned to me and he said, you know, I’ve got more people who could benefit than there are places available. If I choose you to be on the program, how will you share the gift? And I had no idea what he was talking about.
I, I really was sort of stumped and I looked at him and I said, oh, I’ll, I’ll become a better listener. And he said, okay. And I thought, well, that, that would be a good step. We can all do with becoming a better listener. And it was only several years down the track that I thought my role in life, my purpose is now to help others to use their voice because I’ve discovered.
Sarah: Hmm. Yeah. It’s beautiful. When you were speaking also, I paid attention when you said, well, I paid attention all the time, but when you said you know, I learned to listen and speak differently. And I think you highlighted that before. So I I’m curious how, how. [00:33:00] How is it different now?
Lisa: Yeah, it’s a good, it’s a good question.
The sound that I get from the cochlear implant is artificial and it sounds a completely different to natural, natural sound mm-hmm . And so you not only have. To learn to hear, but you’ve gotta lay down new neural pathways in order to be able to turn that sound into something that resembles human human speech.
And initially when you get the device and you have the sort of the turning on ceremony you can’t hear anything at all. It, it, it is completely artificial and it just sounds like noise. And because I’ve got a small amount of natural sound remaining. My brain has to merge those two signals together.
The artificial sound that comes from the device and the natural sound that, that, that I’m hearing. So you are bypassing the natural way of, of hearing. So it is a, it is very much a learned. [00:34:00] Process. And it takes a huge amount of focus and a lot of rehabilitation in, in learning to, and, and maybe it’s a lot easier for younger people who, who get a cochlear implant.
And I also think that it’s potentially easier for people who have never heard. Who were born deaf. I mean, you’ve gotta have a particular type of hearing loss to be able to get a cochlear implant. It’s not suitable for, for everybody, but yeah, it was a considerable, a considerable journey and a lot of frustration.
Yeah. And a lot of trial and error with the amazing research team.
Sarah: Mm. Yeah. Yeah. Just to tell you from, you know, the outside and, and listeners don’t see that, but if you’re watching the YouTube video, whenever I speak, I really. See on your face, how you’re listening intensely. And obviously now I know your story and I know [00:35:00] why, but it’s just so beautiful to have someone listen to you so intensely, you know, it feels like, wow, she’s really taking in my information and paying attention to me.
So, so I can, yeah, I can see the, the really huge benefit and I’m sure all your clients. Are like, wow. I really feel heard and seen by
Lisa: Lisa. Thank you. That’s a compliment. I hope they feel that way too. yes.
Sarah: So we, we are getting to wrap up, but I, I would like you, if you can, to just share some final encouragement and, and maybe tips that you could think of for someone who who’s yeah.
Struggling with this idea of telling stories.
Lisa: Yeah. So look around you. There is a story in everything, whether it is a trip to the supermarket or remembering your first day at school, or applying for a job, getting turned down for a promotion. Yeah. These are all [00:36:00] potential story opportunities. Write them down, capture them and remember that every story does need to have a point.
Or a purpose. So ask yourself, how did I feel? What did I learn? And what’s that lesson that I want to share with others. And remember that the most important story is the one that we tell ourselves. So do the inner work, do the inner work to get rid of those unhelpful stories that no longer service that perhaps we’ve had hanging around for a long, long time.
Because if you have got whatever your own story is, you know, you get to choose what the next chapter. It’s in your control. Yeah. Get out there and share your story. Start off small. But other people are always fascinated by our stories because humans are hardwired to tell stories. We’ve always done it.
Sarah: Yeah, thank you so much. I, I wanna repeat the point and purpose. That’s what I really take away in the reason and season that’s a, a good one to an easy [00:37:00] one to remember as well. Like the, every story needs a reason and there needs to be the, you know, the season needs to be right and feel right. To you as well.
This has been very beautiful. Thank you so much for this conversation. Lisa, do you tell us I have one more question, but before that do tell us where people can connect with you where they can find out more about your work.
Lisa: Sure. Thank you for inviting me. I love your work. Sarah people can connect with me via my website, speaking savvy.com.au.
I’m also on LinkedIn, always happy to have a chat and share a story with anyone online. So I do do a complimentary discovery call and obviously I love hearing stories. So that’s how people can best reach out to me. Wonderful.
Sarah: And then my last question is what are you grateful for today or this week,
Today I’m this is probably gonna sound strange where the [00:38:00] opposite sides of the world. I’m grateful today that it’s a little bit cooler. I was actually able to have a good night’s sleep. The 1st of March, we are now in autumn. Here in Australia. And so we’ve got temperatures that are really beautiful and to see the, the flowers and the birds and the breeze.
So today I’m grateful for the, the wonderful climate that I live in here in Perth, Western Australia.
Sarah: Wonderful. Yeah, I could, the sun is shining today here too, but I could use some warmer temperatures as well. thank you so much for taking the time. Lisa, it’s been an absolute delight. Thank