Sunday, January 5, 2014

Most Important Storytelling Formula

 "I’m too old to have morning sickness for a year.  Help me, please!”

Below is a guest post from Michael Davis, one of the speakers featured in 'Go Ahead & Laugh', a Certified World Class Speaking Coach, and, more importantly, a genuinely nice and insightful guy.

In business, what makes a good story?
Scour the internet and you’ll find a plethora of opinions.  

Of all the ideas I've seen, none is better than the Then, Now, and How formula taught by World Champion speaker Craig Valentine.  In a nutshell, Then, Now and How creates curiosity by telling the story of a successful client experience.  There are two keys to this formula:

1) The depth of the client’s problem before meeting you, and,

2) The order in which the story is told.

Then tells of a client who was in distress before meeting you.  For example, when my client Patti approached me for speech coaching, she was literally getting sick every morning thinking about giving that talk.  She carried this anxiety through each day.

The worst part of her story is that when we met, she wasn't scheduled to speak for 11 months!   As she said, “Michael, I’m 65.  I’m too old to have morning sickness for a year.  Help me, please!”

Patti was clearly in distress.

Once you've established the Then part, introduce the Now aspect.  In Patti’s case, she confidently stood before 350 people eleven months later and gave a speech that was funny, poignant, and compelling.  When she concluded, she received a standing ovation, and audience members donated both time and money to her foundation.

At this point, even though you may have no interest in speech coaching, you may be thinking… How did she do that?  How did she go from a state of near DE-pression to making a huge IM-pression on others?

The curiosity you’re experiencing is the result of the change from Then to Now.  People often approach me after hearing this story, wanting to know more about my speech coaching services.  Imagine generating that same amount of curiosity for your product or service. Once you've established the contrast of Then and Now, it’s time to tell How your client succeeded.  In Patti’s case, she learned World Class speaking processes that helped her create a central theme, develop relevant supporting points, open with a story that immediately grabbed the audiences’ attention, and closed with a compelling call to action.

It’s important to note that you shouldn't make yourself the ‘hero’ of the story at this point.   It’s tempting to tell how great your service is, or how your product is better than others.  Notice that you were told what Patti did, and not what I taught her.  By keeping the focus on your client, you don’t come across as special or superior.  You are ‘guilty’ by association with the client’s success.  People are smart enough to determine that I was the coach. Why else would I share the story?

Told in this order, Then, Now, and How can help you stand out from the crowd.  Test it for yourself and create the curiosity that compels prospective clients to seek you out to do business with you.

Michael R Davis is a Certified World Class Speech Coach and the founder of Speaking CPR, a company designed to help you Breathe Life into Your Business Presentations and Speeches.  For more information, visit  If you’d like to become three times the story teller you are today, register for FREE storytelling tips at  

Do YOU want to write a guest post for Speak & Deliver? Send me an idea at, and I'll be happy to take another day off in 2014, and share YOUR expertise with S&D's loyal audience. Now go out and Speak...& Deliver!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...