My friend once told me that stories have the power to transform. She said a good idea is just that – a good idea. But if you connect a good idea with a good story, you can change the world. I didn’t get it. So, I continued to refine my message and practiced my presentation. I made sure my facts were solid and my research was good. But when I presented it to the world, it didn’t have the impact I expected.
Fortunately, opportunity knocked again. A few days ago, I was practicing another presentation when my wife told me, ‘You’re not connecting with your audience.’ That was pretty blunt for her. She’s normally very supportive. I was crushed – not because she insulted me, but because I thought she might be right.
I could have argued. I could have replied that I’ve been doing this for years and that people have told me I’m a good speaker. But deep down, I wondered if my wife was on to something. Sure, I’m an energetic speaker – on stage, I practically vibrate with passion. But what if passion isn’t enough?
There’s that old riddle, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” My ideas are just like that tree – solid, and capable of making a big impact. But if I’m not connecting with my audience, it’s like they’re not really there to hear it. I don’t want to just make noise in an empty forest – I want to change the world.
Looking back, I remembered times when I really connected with people – and times when I didn’t. It seemed kind of hit or miss to me, but my wife had an explanation. She said, “Every time you tell a story, you have my undivided attention. The rest of the time – not so much.” That’s exactly what my friend was trying to tell me! And that’s when I realized that my good ideas were still just … good ideas. I needed something more!
It’s not enough that my facts are solid and my research is good. I need to learn to tell stories to connect with emotion and metaphors to paint pictures. And maybe, if I work at it hard enough, I can still change the world.
But for now, I’m going to take my wife and friend out to dinner, because, after all, crow tastes a lot better with friends.