5 simple and profound questions that will help you mine great stories worth sharing

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I was having a phone conversation with one of my clients, Brian*. He was asking to see if it was possible to build a website that curated videos of executive talks the company hosted. Sort of like a TED.com for his own company.

I steered the conversation a little sideward and directed straight to him, “So, when are you going to talk”?

I could tell by the silence he was taken aback by a question he didn’t see coming from me.

His response: “Oh I don’t have anything to talk about”.

Brian is the head of a major department in the company. He’s been front and centre of a major office move, and is part of leading an excellent behind-the-scenes technical team at one of the biggest movers and shakers of the Australian corporate scene.

“Oh, I don’t have anything to talk about.”

The sort of response you get when you’ve accidentally added an extra half teaspoon of sugar in your best friend’s tea, like “eh, don’t worry about it”.

Really? I found that hard to believe.

Sometimes we don’t believe we have enough value to share. We jump to the conclusion that what we have to share isn’t going to be of value to anyone. Or no-one will want to hear of it.

How presumptuous of us!

As a result of this presumption, you miss out. Like Brian missed out.

Worst of all, we miss out. There are stories worth sharing that other friends, family, colleagues in your organisation, need to hear.

Why? Because there is always something to be learnt.

Here are five questions that you can ask yourself daily, to help you mine the great stories in your life worth sharing. I got these straight from Mark Brown, the 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking, who knows a thing or two about telling some great yarns:

What happened recently?
Not every day has to have experiences that are life changing. By recounting even the most mundane of events, you’ll be able to start thinking critically about your experiences. You may start noticing trends, patterns, idiosyncracies whilst you’re jotting down these events. If your life is planned by the calendar (like mine is), that can also be helpful to jog your memory.

What amazed you?
From your list of events, was there anything in those events that made you feel amazed, impressed, shocked or surprised? Perhaps just by pondering on this question, you may come up with another event that you missed in the previous question.

What amused you?
From you list of events, was there anything in your life that made you laugh? Perhaps you laughed during a conversation you had with someone the previous day? Do you remember what it was about?

What moved you?
Was there anything in your day that actually uplifted or inspired you? It may have just been a fleeting moment – perhaps an exchange you saw in the distance.

What did you learn?
The most important question to answer – was there anything out of the recollection of events that taught you a lesson? It could be as straight forward as I learnt how to make a coffee from the new coffee machine at work to a timeless life lesson about forgiveness. There is no lesson to abstract or specific worth leaving off the page.

As speaker coach Lisa Evans claims, you can “find story material in everyday situations and turn those experiences into a memorable message”.

There are lessons to be learnt if we go seeking them out. Before we jump to the conclusion of “I don’t have anything to talk about”, commit to answering these questions first thing you wake up in the morning for 15 minutes, everyday.

After the first week, you may just see, that you do indeed have something worth sharing.

*name changed for privacy reasons.

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