Storytelling in the Age of Video with Clinton Young
During the most recent episode of “I’m That Geek” Clinton Young, Award Winning International Keynote Speaker, and I discussed the importance of storytelling. Specifically if you have a message that the world needs to hear, how you can communicate your story and turn that into clients, booking speaking engagements and everything else that you need to do with stories.
How do you use storytelling to capture attention in the age of short attention spans?
It's crazy. We literally, as humans have an eight second attention span. It's gone down over the last several years with all of the things out there that are grabbing our attention. Eight seconds. Do you know how long a goldfish attention span is?
My last Google search was eight second human and I believe Goldfish was nine or 10 seconds. The biggest thing that we need to do when somebody has an eight second attention span, we need to first of all earn the right to get their attention right out of the gate. And then every eight to 10 seconds we need to be doing something that gets their attention. Yet we need to continue to earn the right to maintain their attention. Because the number one thing that we need as a storyteller is we need contrast.
We want to tell stories and we also want to have some facts. We want to vary our tonality, vary our speed, our pitch, and we want to pause once in a while.There's so many different ways that you're going to add contrast into your speech and when you're telling stories, it's so vital as well. The number one cardinal rule about telling stories that you don't want to commit this sin if you will, is you don't just tell stories for the sake of telling stories. Stories always have to have a point.
What’s the $5000 secret to becoming a World Class Presenter?
You've got to have a left hook. You know, left hook, like in boxing, you never ever, ever want to have your audience able to predict what you're going to say next. Left hooks are notorious for kind of coming out of the blue. You don't see them coming. So that was one of the biggest principles that I got out of paying, one of my coaches around contrast. Specifically as it comes to humor and your content, you never want them to be able to know what's coming next.
How do you craft your story?
That's a great question and I want to add in before I answer that, I want to add in one piece here. It's facts tell stories sell. Obviously we're talking about storytelling right now, so that's a very obvious statement, but maybe you've never heard that. Maybe you have. If you want to inspire somebody, move somebody emotionally, have somebody feel something that you feel or want them to have clarity and be inspired about their life, to get them to do something you know is in their best interest to do, or to overcome their limiting beliefs, you've got to tell stories.
What I did is I hired a coach. I hired a National Speaker Association Hall of Fame Speaker. We spent time together and I shared all the stories of the significant times in my life when things really shifted. So you really want to think about what are those pivotal moments in your life.
Because a lot of times the pain that you've experienced in your life will be the thing that can set other people free. You've gone through exactly what you've gone through in your life for a reason. I'm a firm believer that in that everything always happens for a reason, there's always something to learn and grow from. We all have a story inside of us.
What is one of the best ways to get started speaking?
I cut my teeth and really got started in toastmasters. I obviously have had a lot of experience getting on stages. Maybe that's not so obvious, but I use toastmasters as sort of my Dojo. This is a great place where you can go. They're going to teach you how to build a five to seven minute speech, super easy, a lot of different types of speeches. I highly recommend checking out toastmasters if you want to start to have a place where you can actually practice and you can structure a five to seven minute speech and then go and deliver it.
How do you find and get involved with Toastmasters?
You can go to toastmasters in your area and this is how I recommend you do it: I'm going to give you a game plan here, so you might want to write down these steps.
I would go to: Toastmasters.org and you can search in your area. It has a very good search capacity where you can look at all the Toastmaster locations in your area. There's usually several in every town, every city, all around the world, lots of the major cities. You're going to have tons of them. I would go in and visit every single one in your city that meets on a time that works for you because all of them have different flavors, different fields, different setups, and ultimately the same structure and the same guidelines, but they all have a different sort of culture, if you will. You can go for free to all of them once or twice.
You will be able to participate in a lot of elements of the event, which are things like table topics where it's impromptu speaking and whether you're somebody who speaks online or wants to speak online or whether you want to speak on a stage or even one-to-one. I use the word Dojo a lot when I talk about that because the number one thing that you need to do to get better as a storyteller is to start to tell stories.
The only reason why I say toastmasters is because it has a structure that you don't need to go and figure it out and start from scratch. It has a structure that you can go and utilize.
How do you tell a story while you still on the journey and not necessarily at the peak of your journey?
Great question. The number one thing I would say is you've got to include your audience in the journey. Whether you're online or whether you're in person, you want for the audience to experience it like this: You're pulling up in a car. The last thing you want your audience to feel is that they’re standing on the side of the road, all of a sudden you drive by and they're like, “Oh, that was a cool car that drove by.”
That's not how you want your speeches to go or how you want your interactions online to go. You want it to go like you're driving in your car. They're on the side of the road and you pull up in your car. There's so many ways that you can get them to decide to open that door. Then you get them to decide to peek in the car, look around and look at you. Then you want to get it to the point where they feel comfortable enough to get in the car with you. Now you're driving. They're in the car when you're including them in your journey. But when you really develop mastery is when you're not the driver anymore. When you've built so much rapport with the audience and you've really made it about them, you've shifted the concern from you over to what's in the best interest interest of my audience? How can I really make this feel like it's their journey? Now all of a sudden they're in the driver's seat and you become the person who's just directing this.
How do I include my audience?
You want to ask questions. I have a whole way that I teach the folks that I work with on how to start off the beginning of your speech, how to immediately build rapport, how to immediately get a laugh. You want to get a laugh like every 30 seconds and you want to get one within about the first five to 10 seconds of being on stage. That's rule number one. So any way you can do that when you're on video as well, you can get your audience a little chuckle, even if it's just a smile within 10 seconds, you're golden.
Then that gains their attention. That's one of the ways to get their attention. But you want to ask them questions and you want to ask them questions that relate to them, that also ties into your content. We want to ask questions in the beginning. Like, “How many of you out there can think of a time where you really, really, really wanted to be something. you really wanted to do something or you really wanted to have something, but fear and doubt crept in and you didn't take action? Show of hands. How many out there can you can think of a time right now? Oh everybody got one? Okay. Write that down. Go ahead. Just take like 10 seconds. Write one word down that really encapsulates that thing you wanted to be do or have, that a fear and doubt crept in.” Go ahead and give them a couple seconds to think about and write down their answers.
Show up, show of hands and giving verbal commands. While I'm sharing information, I'm also moving students. They're writing down. I'm varying the tonality, and using contrast. Now in their mind, they have something that's relevant to them. You've started to get them to open the car door and they think, “Wait a minute. Maybe there's something in here for me.” That’s one example of how to include your audience in the journey.
How do you tell stories in the present tense and why should you be doing that?
When you do this, you're going to stand out head and shoulders above the rest because most importantly, your audience is going to be right there beside you in the car and eventually as you implement more of this, the steps that I share with my students, they're going to actually be the driver, so how do we do that? I'm going to give you an example:
“Oh, here I am. I'm in Rio de Janeiro. It's the second summer of my graduate school experience.
It's like 80 plus degrees out and I'm getting in this little tram. I'm sweating. I'm going up this tram to see what most would call a tourist trap. It's called Corcovado. It's a tourist attraction and I finally get up there and I look out and I see the wonderfully artistic black and white sidewalks that the beaches in Rio are known for its Portuguese heritage.
I see the white sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and then I look out into the ocean. I see this enormous mountain emerging from a water called Palu. I fix my attention over here and I notice the massive disparity between the richness and beauty of the beach area and these little shanty towns called littered across the top of the mount. I turn around and I walk over to the main attraction and I look up and it seems to be a thousand miles high…”
Share as if it’s happening right now. It's so vital to do that because people don't want to hear old news. When somebody comes up to you, if you had the choice to talk to somebody who's going to tell you a story that happened a week ago or something that's happening to them right now, better yet going along with them on the journey, which one are you going to choose? Anytime you're going to use the words was, I went, or any past tense, it's old news.
You can still be a good storyteller, but you will never become a world class storyteller. When you've been on hundreds of stages like I have and you've spoken in front of thousands and thousands of people and you've gotten the reactions, the contrast, the comparison of when I wasn't doing this till now I am doing this, it's night and day.
It's going to take a lot of practice. It's going to take some guidance. It's going to take some coaching, but you can do it. And when you do, you become a world class speaker
Why is storytelling so important?
Have you ever noticed that people lean in? Now this is more of a live when you're face to face, people lean in. You've done this. When you think about it, when you're a little kid or even when you're not, when you tell stories or someone's telling you a story, you lean.
It just happens. And what's happening is, there's been studies that show this when you're talking, when you're not telling your story, you're telling facts. You have brainwaves. I'm going to give you some of the science behind this. When you're telling facts, you and your audience’s brain waves are not in sync. As soon as you start telling a story, your brain waves and the brain waves of your audience immediately sync up. When you tell stories, people are automatically going to listen and you're going to get their attention more.
What is it about the Power of 3?
I don't know what it is, but our brains like to receive information in three.
There are power numbers: three and seven, is another powerful one. That's why it's the top seven steps or the top seven tips to becoming a world class presenter. Definitely get that. It's 100% free. Go to: https://imthatgeek.com/ClintonsOffer to grab your copy.
You want to use the power of three. I lace in the power of three throughout my entire speech. Right in the beginning. You can do it intentionally if you're just getting started. If you're doing blogs online, doing slides, you're using Yifat’s platform, or maybe you're speaking live out there in person, infuse them into your stories, infuse them into your speeches.
You can do it with, with tips as well. Give people three tips to help them get results. That's the power of three that you can utilize when you're talking about anything that you want your audience to really get because they're going to receive and retain what you share with them.
How do you become a master storyteller?
I used the top seven tips to go from zero to making $10,000 per speech in under 17 months as a part-time speaker. But that doesn't mean I spoke once a month. That means some weeks I spoke four times. Bottom line, you've got to get on stages.
I also teach how to ask for referrals. You've got to Ask to Get. Every single time I speak, I share my vision and I ask for what it is that I want. I want referrals. The only way you can do that is by building enough rapport on the front end. So that they say, “Yes, I want to help you because you helped me so much.”
Ask for referrals. Hire a coach, have somebody that can help you, guide you. Have the courage to implement what they're telling you to implement. As you do that, your confidence rises. You start to tell stories better. You start to give your content better. You start to ask for referrals better. You start to be more natural on stage.
How do you find your purpose?
I'm a firm believer that we all have a story to share. We all have a story to provide value to other people. What I say, when people come up to me and say, “I'm looking for my purpose. How do I find it?” I say, “If you're looking for your purpose, stop... because it will be waiting for you when you start doing the things that you love.”
I'm also a firm believer that we all actually have the same purpose. We have the same purpose, they have different color variations, different details in each one. But ultimately, I believe that our purpose find ways to be in service to others inside of our greatest gift.
How do we discover what our greatest gift is? Go do the things that we love and our purpose will be revealed to us. Then find ways to be in service to other people while we're inside of our greatest gift.
When they see that you found it for yourself through your videos, through your passion, your inspiration from stage. Ooh, people want that too. When you find ways to include them in your journey and make them the driver of the car, so it becomes their journey. That's how you inspire people and move them to take action. Whatever is important to you, make it important to them first.
What else should you do to become a World Class Speaker?
I would say commit to the journey. Whatever your journey is, commit to discovering more about who you are. Commit to discovering and creating more awareness. When you have more awareness of who you are, where you are right now, you have a vision for where you want to go. When you get really clear about what are your gifts and talents, your passions, and the things you love… Once you start taking action around them, then you start to get committed.
You move to step two. Your awareness is step one. Step two is a commitment to growth, the commitment to lifelong learning and discovery about yourself. Then from there, now we start to find ways to be in service to others inside of our greatest gift. That's what we're all here for. Think big. Say yes and take action.
You'll be amazed by the relationships and the people that you've touched. So make that your legacy and start by telling good stories.