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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
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What’s Your Story?

September 12, 2012

Filed under: Marketing — @ 2:35 pm

Do you tell stories? I bet you do. I’ve heard at least one person, Scott Farnsworth, say that “stories are our native language.” I absolutely believe it.

Why should you tell a story? Think about it — if you attend a presentation, what do you remember afterward? If you’re like me, you remember (1) if the speaker was funny; and (2) the stories the speaker told. It’s only through the stories that I remember the legal-technical discussion or whatever the talk was about.

Use stories to market yourself. Have you thought about using stories as a marketing tool? Telling stories is one way to make you memorable, to both referral sources and prospective clients. You can use a story to tell how things can go wrong; how you’ve been able to craft a great solution for someone; and to make you look human. And, because stories are memorable, the people who hear them will remember you.

How do you tell a story? Lawyers are educated, literate, articulate people, so it surprises me when I talk to attorneys who are flustered by the concept of telling a story and can’t quite figure out how to do it. So, I thought I’d pass along some pointers:

    1. Keep it simple. To be effective, a story should have a point — a punch line, if you will — and it shouldn’t take very long to get to the conclusion. Otherwise, the listener will lose interest. So, when you tell a story, don’t wander around in the details; hone your stories so you get your point across quickly.

    2. Only one point to a story. As lawyers, we like to tell people everything we know. Although that’s a wonderful, generous trait, what you are saying can be quite confusing to a listener. So, as tempting as it may be to throw in lots of information, construct each of your stories so there’s only one point to each of them.

    3. The three key things. There are three crucial elements to a story: (1) a protagonist; (2) conflict; and (3) resolution. Keep this in mind when you think of stories to tell people.

    4. Tell more than horror stories. As lawyers, our job, by and large, is to clean up other people’s messes. We love to tell horror stories. And, although it’s fun and can be useful to talk about how things have gone wrong, sometimes it’s more effective to tell a story in which you enabled something to go right. I’m sure you’ve had some successes — why not tell your stories about them?

Please let me know how this helps you!

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