[On] Point to Ponder: The Story Log Tool

Since developing the Story Log tool, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients and workshop attendees have shared consistently how much they value this simple tool. But what is it? How was it created? Well of course, there’s a short story behind that…

Image result for image what's your story?

Harry Potter … and The Story Log?
My daughter attends a school where the leadership program is modeled after the Harry Potter system of “houses” (e.g. Gryffindor). Like student council, only way more fun. Each house tries to acquire the most points to win the big end of year prize. In junior high, they learn the ropes of this system through “Orders.” Leaders of each group must be elected and…give a campaign-like speech in hopes of obtaining votes.

“But I Don’t Have Any Stories.”
My daughter was nervous and new to the school. What would she say in her speech? Her idea bank was on Empty. “Mom, I don’t want to list my accomplishments, that sound like I’m bragging. Besides, what would I say? I haven’t done anything important.” [Insert mom’s eye roll.]

The Story Log Form is Born
Starting with the facts, we sketched a list of her accomplishments to date.  (This became Column 3 of The Story Log.)  Academic awards. Spelling Bee competitions. Volunteer roles. We wrote the date and place these events happened (Columns 1 and 2).

The time limit was 5 minutes. How could she tell these short stories quickly and with interest? How could these stories have movement, drama, resolution? That’s where the secret sauce came in. We wrote before and after emotions. Then, writing her speech, we expanded on those. How did she before an event? Moving schools mid-year was traumatic, scary, paralyzing. How did she feel afterward? “But with perseverance and determination, I could succeed and make new friends.” Before and after emotions are the keys components to The Story Log. After all, it’s emotion that sells. Not numbers, facts, or figures but emotion.

Elizabeth won the Order Leader slot and propelled the “Order of Kranz” to victory. They won 3 out of 4 “Purple Ducks” that year. With that track record, she earned a 2nd term in 8th grade.

The On Point Story Log
I quickly saw the uses for this log with clients and have been using it with success ever since. It pulls clients out of the numbers. Out of the strictly logical thinking that often exists when formulating arguments, speeches, elevator pitches. It demands emotion and vulnerability. And most of all, it works.

Why It Works
The Story Log works because of Columns 4 and 6, 
starting and ending emotions (respectifully). When speakers tell these stories? It works. They captivate. Buy why? Brene Brown’s TEDx talk is one of the most watched of all time. Why? Because she explores the depths of her own thoughts, doubts, and shortcomings. She carefully explores the problem before sharing her path to success. She is vulnerable. She is human. She is like us.

Audience Identification
We like to listen to people who are like us. People who make mistakes, have fears, and experience doubt. We understand them. If we can identify with the speaker in these ways, we are with them to the end. We want to know …did success or failure follow? What did they learn from their experience?

Then we naturally move to our own experiences. What have I done in my life that is similar? When have I grown, made leaps in my learning? What can I share to help others?

Now What?
The On Point Story Log is one of the hallmarks of On Point Communications. We understand story. Contact us today to get started with one of our programs and journey through your own stories. They can become compelling – and authentic – material for your next talk, keynote, investor pitch.

Want Cindy to speak to your organization about the Story Log? Contact Cindy to request for an in-person workshop or on-line webinar.  Send an e-mail to info@onpoint-communications.com

Cindy provides public speaking coaching and brand consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses who seek to master their message on stage, online and in publications. Her passion for crafting, analyzing and presenting messages developed through over 25 years in the corporate, academic and entrepreneurial worlds. Cindy coaches clients on pitch decks, TED talks, storytelling, presentation presence, brand messaging, PR strategy and more.


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“As a professional speaker, I know the value of getting feedback before giving an important speech. As I prepared my TEDx talk, Cindy was the perfect person to give me outside perspective. She did a beautiful job taking the many ideas I had floating around in my head and helping me select what to use, how to organize them, and how to tie it all together.

I love the way she coached, not trying to make her words my own, but instead, considering what I was trying to achieve and helping me stay true to my voice. If you have to stand and deliver a great talk, working with Cindy can help you ensure you’re at your best!”

Tanis Roeder, Elevate Your Communication

“Cindy, Your coaching was fantastic. You are so good at this. I have done a lot of this too, but I am in awe of your approach, the simplicity of your suggestions and your general professionalism. Thank you.”

Susan Strong, Director at SAGE Boulder

“Cindy, I’m in your Career Thought Leaders Conference session right now and you’re absolutely delivering on what you promised when we first met! I’m so excited to keep making progress in developing my brand story.”

Mashaal Ahmed|DC Career Coach

Cindy, you were immensely helpful in narrowing down the story part of our pitch. With your guidance, we were able to make a very complicated technical problem relatable to a mixed audience. We still can’t believe the first questions was, “it sounds too good to be true.” That is so much better than the feared, “I do understand what your product does.” Thank you for your professional help and support. RVC knew what they were doing bringing you in as a pitch coach.”

Samuel Thomas Elliott|Co-Founder, Tejon Technologies

You are a wonderful presenter Cindy! I have taken so much from your presentation at the conference. I noticed when you speak, you at times lowered your volume in a way where we still heard you, but it PULLED the audience in, as if you were confiding in us.

Your vocal variety was lovely, (as well as your content, of course!). The advice to gather your stories from your past and weave them into your presentations is spot on.

Julie Roberts, Linked In profile writer|Coach