The first day at Reach Academy Live was focused on storytelling. Story is an essential tool for speakers to master, not only for speaking from the stage but for helping them relate to their customers, their work, and themselves. Here are some of the highlights from the keynotes and the world-famous speak off.

David Bayer – How to overcome suffering and unintelligent thinking

David Bayer is a master at helping entrepreneurs make big leaps forward in their business by improving their mindset and outlook. David provided some unique insights into how the story you tell yourself can have a dramatic impact on the results you see in your life.

“Your brain is a goal-achieving machine. The stories that you tell yourself are shaping your brain. Your story dictates what you think and how you view the world; your brain looks for evidence to confirm and fulfill that story.” – David Bayer

Many entrepreneurs experience a great deal of suffering and stress while growing their businesses. Most assume that suffering is something to be expected. David broke down the truth about what suffering really is and how to view it.

There are only 2 states of being, a state of “beauty” and a state of “suffering”. You’re always in one, never in both. Suffering is separate from experience; the only cause of suffering is your own experience and the meaning you assign to it.

With a little bit of self-awareness, we can actually use the suffering caused by unintelligent thinking as a compass to find our own truth.

Examples of unintelligent thinking:

  • “I’m not ready to get on more stages.”
  • “I need to achieve more to deserve what I want”
  • “Nobody wants to hear my story”
  • “I’ll never make it as an entrepreneur”
  • “There’s no good men/women out there”

The good news is that whatever thoughts cause you suffering, the opposite is true. If you can manage to notice and recognize the unintelligent thinking patterns.

Unintelligent thinking can be overcome and uprooted by noticing when you are having unintelligent thoughts. When you start to see your unintelligent thoughts, you can question them and replace them with “intelligent thinking”. For example, trading a thought of “why can’t I succeed?” to “what needs to happen to double my sales next month?” transforms how you feel about your current situation, and sheds light on new solutions. This breaks the cycle of repeatedly telling the story that causes us suffering and holds you back.

Chris Smith – The 5 forces of storytelling

Chris Smith from The Campfire Effect continued with the thread of storytelling and how it can impact how others relate to your work.

Most of us do not have a good way of sharing our story. Any time someone asks us what we do, we “vomit” a bunch of information on them. Most of us do this because we don’t understand how to use our stories. But if we can get clear on what our story is supposed to do, we can begin to craft it into something powerful.

Your story has 2 jobs:

  • It needs to make sense – Your story should be easily understood and followed. This builds trust and familiarity with the listener.
  • It should make the listener believe you can help them – It needs to relate to your listener in a way that makes them feel like you understand their problem and that you can help them with it.

“Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.” – Jennifer Aaker

To create a story that does these jobs well, it’s important to understand the five forces of storytelling.

  1. Who you are – People buy from other people, your story should be a bridge to build a relationship with your listener and help them understand where you come from. Understanding “who you are” also gives you a source of power and confidence, it gives you context to create and live your own story.
  2. What you do – Most people overdo this part. It’s easy to go on and on here, and this is where we usually end up losing out listeners. This part should be clear, succinct and thought-provoking.
  3. Why you do it – What lead you to where you are now? Whats gets you excited about the work you’re doing. This builds credibility and context in your story.
  4. How you do it – Your process for solving a problem. Your “how” is what makes you unique from your competitors. Chris helps people get clear on their process and helps them create a “proprietary process” that is unique to them and engaging to their customers.
  5. Social proof – You want to add evidence that reinforces that you can solve this problem and points to some of the results you have gotten in the past.

For more on the five forces of storytelling check out: 5 Steps To Great Brand Storytelling With Chris Smith

Pat Quinn – Amazing presentation tips

Pat Quinn is the master of delivering a good talk from the stage. He opened with high-energy and delivered several value bombs before he even made it up the stairs on the stage. This left the audience transfixed on him with pens in hand, taking notes trying not to blink for fear of missing something.

He shared a framework for speakers to use to make sure every line of their talk is effective and contributes to their presentation. He calls it the “litmus test”.

The litmus test is simple, take any part of your talk and ask yourself, “does it help drive home the core point of my presentation?”. As you practice your talk, use the litmus test to find areas that you can improve your message.

Pat then shared one of his most powerful tools for capturing the attention and imagination of the audience, episodic storytelling.

Episodic storytelling is stringing together a few vivid moments into a narrative. You should bring your listener into each moment with you. This means talking in the first person and sharing details that allow the listener to create the scene in their mind.

Pat demonstrated this in his talk several times, once by describing gathering wild grapes in the fall to bring to his mother to make wild grape jelly and “eat like kings”. This conjured an image of Pat as a youth and allowed us to share that memory with him, which he called back several times in the presentation.

Another great example of episodic storytelling came from the speak off contestant, Shelli Varel, when describing a low point in her journey.

“…I remember laying in bed staring up at a white stippled ceiling…” This tiny little detail allows us to join her at that moment and put ourselves in her shoes and feel what she feels.

By stringing two or more of these little moments together, you can create a powerful talk that engages your audience from the moment you begin speaking, to your closing line.

For more information on giving a great talk and storytelling for your business, check out: How the best speakers use storytelling as a business growth tool.

The Speak Off

The night closed with 12 speakers testing out their own stories in front of a panel of over 20 meeting planners. Each had five minutes to deliver a talk. Many talks shared inspiring stories of overcoming challenges, while others shared heartwarming scenes from their past and related them to the world-changing work they aspire to do.

Here’s a video where the panel of 24 meeting planners give their final feedback to the contestants, and the winner is announced.

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you’ll meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible. If you want to take part in the speak off, be sure to register early, it tends to sell out fast!

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.