190: On Making Your Story Matter to Others

On this week's episode of This Moved Me, neuroscientist Carmen Simon shares her tips for speakers to help them create talks that audiences remember.

Today’s episode is building off of last week’s… The myth that telling our stories is all about ME ME ME.

But today, we’re taking that ME ME ME (or what can sometimes FEEL like me me me) and turning it into US US US. Taking the personal, individual, specific…. and finding the universal in it. 

Which is THE POINT of sharing our stories. 

Because of course it is NOT to just talk about ourselves. No, we want our audience to find THEMSELVES in OUR STORY. 

In the particular is contained the universal.
— James Joyce

I wholeheartedly agree!

So - when we’re trying to connect - sometimes we actually hesitate in getting too specific for fear that it will alienate people. (It CAN, if you aren’t thoughtful about how you craft it.) 

But we know that good storytelling requires some specificity… it helps us imagine it… If you an get specific about your experience, it’s more likely that the audience s going to SEE and imagine and FEEL it. 

Step 1: They connect with your story because it’s specific. 

Specificity helps us imagine it… and when we’re imagining something, we’re drawing from our own lives and experiences. And it’s one of those wonderful paradoxes that drive so much of our work as speakers… the more specific you get, the more universally it connects.

(If you’re not sure about this, think about the opposite… when someone tells a generic story - there’s nothing happening in the brain or the body. It doesn’t trigger any memories of of our own.)

The more uncompromisingly specific you are the more you end up touching the bigger universal truths.”
— Tom Hooper

Step 2: Articulate the Universality

As speakers, our job is to find what I call the “universal umbrella” that that story lives in. If you can find the right universal umbrella, it allows the individual audience member to find themselves in your story.

So, what is a Universal Umbrella?

The brain likes to categorize. Oh, this is a talk about _____. I’ve had THAT kind of experience before.

So, If you can find the right Universal Umbrella - the right category - it can move up and beyond the typical divides that keep our individual stories from resonating and connecting. 

But I need to be clear: this is a LANGAUGE thing. The language you use really really matters, because it will open up the categories. Using the wrong umbrella? It will shut it down.

 Think of it like opening up the file folders that people have in their brains as they’re listening to rummage through their own experiences… that’s what’s happening as they’re listening to your story.  And we want to articulate the right universal umbrella so they go straight to that file folder, open it up, and find their own story in it. BOOM.  - RESONANCE. Now it matters to them, too. They’ve been there. 

Does this work when you are REALLY different from your audience?

Yes, POWERFULLY so! IF you can find the universal umbrella in your own story. And if you can do that - HUGE transformation exists in those moments.

Like - if we could do this on a regular basis? - I think our world might be a totally different place. 

WANT TO DIG IN DEEPER INTO THIS ORIGIN STORY STUFF? (I know, it’s kind of complicated.)

Sign up to be the first to know when the doors open on the Own Your Origin Story Movers-U course! We are keeping the class really small, so you don’t want to miss out!

  • The REAL point of sharing our stories…

  • Why our hesitation in sharing our specific stories is unfounded

  • Why good storytelling requires specificity

  • And how the brain seeks to file our stories away into neat little file folders… and how we can use that to our advantage!


Resources and links:

Mover-U - Enroll now!