Tell me a story. And make it gripping

Stories. Nothing cuts through to an audience quite as well. Why else do Innocent keep telling that one about how they started? You know the one. Founders turn up at a music festival with homemade smoothies, a sign saying ‘should we give up our jobs to make these?’ and two barrels marked ‘yes’ and ‘no’ for the empties (guess which one was full at the end).

There’s something instinctive, almost primal, about how we love to hear stories and tell them. It goes all the way back to when we first lit fires in our caves and huddled round them for warmth and company.

So why do we have such trouble telling the story that should come most naturally – our own? When you’re next at a conference, have a look at the speakers’ biogs. I guarantee they’ll be lifeless and formulaic, full of phrases like ‘prior to’ and ‘delivering excellent outcomes’. It’s as if the real person has been locked up in a big tower called ‘convention’ and their personality smothered in chloroform. 

Check out these (randomly googled) speakers and session chairs at a series of Healthcare Technologies conferences.

See any patterns? They’re all ultra-formal, they all reel off, with grim monotony, a list of jobs the people have done, and none of them actually say what the people did in those jobs. What if Berwyn, Stuart, Tony and co actually told us what difference they made? ‘At Medidevice inc, I led the team behind a breakthrough that means 500 less people are dying of asthma every year’. ‘In the labs I run at Mediscreen, we’ve isolated 24 mutations of the flu virus. It’s vital work that helps vaccinations work better’.

The audience may be hardened healthcare pros, but they’re still human beings. No one’s immune to inspiration.

So next time they ask for your biog at work, express yourself. Say who you really are.

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