It’s Time to Tell Your Story: Using Storytelling to Spark Your Speaking Career

The ability to tell your story is a skill that every speaker should develop. It involves examining your past to understand how it has led you to the present; picking through the minor details to find the truly transformative events that have led you to where you are today.

There are many marketing benefits that come from learning to tell your story. For example, my client Kindra Hall talks about using story as a sales tool, and others agree, saying that “Story is your ultimate currency. This is why people buy your message, or buy your product, or even hire you to do a job.” Learning to tell your story can also help you embrace your past so that even your failures are viewed as important steps in your journey. A well-told story can make you relatable and help you connect with others.

Whatever your motivation, I urge you to think about your story today and how you would tell it. I’ll get you started by sharing my own.

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The Journey of a Speaker Launcher

Many of you probably don’t know this, but I actually started out as a waitress.

It’s true.

After college, my main career aspirations were to travel the world and have fun. This led me to many seemingly random jobs: I worked on cruise ships, at ski resorts and held several temp positions at accounting firms, national airlines, and 3M Canada. During the day, I would watch business people climb the corporate ladder, uninterested in following that path, and at night, I worked as a bartender and waitress.

At 25, my life started to pivot, prompted by a random event: a Les Brown PBS special called “Live Your Dreams.” Right then and there, I decided that I wanted to work for a motivational speaker. Those seemingly random jobs had allowed me to pick up many business and people skills, and within weeks, I had my first job as a marketing director for the leadership expert and author Betska K-Burr.

Betska was a wonderful mentor, offering me an array of opportunities that would further my skills and set me down my current path. One, in particular, was my first trip to an NSA convention where I met several key people who would change the course of my career. This includes Peter Legge and Vince Poscente, who would become future employers, and Joe Calloway, who would have a tremendous influence on my business growth.

After eight years of being an agent and then two more handling exclusive celebrities and best-selling authors with a Texas speaker’s bureau, I had my 10,000 hours. I knew exactly what it took to catapult a speaker from zero engagements to 80 within a short period of time, and people were starting to ask if I would coach them.

It was time to take my career to the next level, so I sat down with my coach Rich Fettke and we mapped out my entire future together. The ability to visualize my future, along with his encouragement, was exactly what I needed to push forward. After ten years of selling speakers, smiling and dialing, and sending out packets of VHS tapes, I returned to Canada to start my coaching and consulting company, Speaker Launcher.

Reflecting on the Journey

As I reflect on my journey, I am grateful for the successes, the failures, and the amazing mentors I had along the way, including Betska, who transformed my career by sending me to my first convention. When I look back on my past, I realize I have come a long way: from a waitress who lacked direction to a coach who is finally living the life of her dreams. I purchased my dream house on the river with my fabulous husband John, I get to travel to cool places, and I have an amazing career that lets me meet motivated speakers and push them toward success.

By examining your own story, you can also connect all the dots between your past, present and future. It can help you find peace of mind and also help you sell yourself to the next big client. Are you ready to tell your story? Share with the community by leaving a comment below.

See you soon Wealthy Speakers!

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P.S.: We started our newest Accelerate Your Business course last week, but there’s still time for you to join! If you are ready to live the life of your dreams and have the speaking business you desire, click HERE to join us!

  • Tricia Molloy

    Your newsletter was divinely timed, Jane! I just polished my story that I will start sharing to kick-off my corporate talks on achieving goals and improving work-life balance. Here it is! (See you Saturday at the NSA Georgia meeting!)

    If you find yourself with a list of goals that you say are important to you but you never achieve them, you may be suffering from TAT syndrome. Have you heard of it? Probably not…because I made it up. TAT stands for “There’s Always Tomorrow.” Although the syndrome is fake, the problem is real. And it’s keeping you from a life you love.

    Too many people think they have plenty of time to finally focus on what matters most, but that’s just not true.

    This being the case, why does it usually take a life-altering event, like a death, divorce, downsizing or diagnosis for us to stop passively participating in our lives?

    Imagine that you’re:

    • Enjoying a rewarding career

    • In a loving relationship

    • And planning to celebrate a milestone anniversary with a long weekend getaway at a charming bed and breakfast.

    The night before you depart, your loved one has a massive heart attack in their sleep and dies.

    How does this unexpected, tragic occurrence affect your perspective on time?

    Now, imagine you’re in the midst of accepting this new reality and you discover their to-do list they left behind. Their unrealized plans for the future.

    What does this discovery have on your thoughts about time?

    On October 20, 1997, at 3:30 in the morning, I lost my husband to a sudden heart attack. Barry Chase was a beloved Atlanta radio personality. At the time of his death, we had three-year-old twins. And we were planning a getaway to Charleston to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. Barry accomplished much in his life and planned to do so much more.

    Sifting through a stack of papers a few days after his death, I found his to-do list pushed aside on the kitchen counter. It must have gotten lost in the clutter during all the commotion of family, friends and neighbors visiting with condolences and casseroles.

    As I stared down at his unrealized goals and dreams, I really understood in a way I never had before that life is precious…fragile…and finite. None of us is promised tomorrow.

    I vowed to myself: “I will not take life for granted. I will appreciate every day and focus on what matters most, instead of wasting my time and attention on petty issues. I will live my life fully and without regrets—for me, our children and in honor of Barry.”

    So much of what I’ve accomplished in my life since then I attribute to that defining moment and the strategies I will share with you today.

    We all have challenges. My story of tragedy and loss is not unique. When it comes to what matters most to us, we can choose to wait until all the stars align…we have more money or more time…or someone else gives us permission. OR…we can choose to move from list makers to action takers.

    So, think about what’s on your list. Let’s get started!

    • speakerlauncher

      Thank you so much for sharing Tricia!! And for being such a fabulous ambassador for me and for NSA GA – you have an amazing Chapter. Great seeing you again.

  • Jane, love your willingness to be so open and sharing your story of where your past had led you to doing what you are doing today. Very grateful for doing what you do as it has helped many of us in getting to our own paths of success!!! Thank you!!!

    • speakerlauncher

      Thanks Jen, I suppose we should all be reminded of the good news as well as some of the bumps in the road! (Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the bumps).

  • Craig Gauvreau

    A big part of my safety business is site consulting for clients at their construction sites. So I will be called upon to conduct the safety orientations. Most safety orientations are really boring. Partly because of content, partly because of presentation. At my first CAPS Conference in Toronto I attended Dave Lieber’s session about story telling.

    Talk about a game changer. I interject real life stories into the orientations and make them humorous when I can. There is so much engagement and positive feed back. The workers remember what they really need for the work site. It’s awesome 🙂

    Story telling is definitely one of the keys to have sustainable impact.

    • speakerlauncher

      Agreed Craig, thank you so much for your comment.

  • I am a former Drill Instructor and currently a Master Resilience Trainer and Motivational Speaker. I was always excited at the opportunity to train someone at their job. I became an instructor nut I was also battling alcohol addiction. I almost took my own life in 2008 because I almost lost my job, wife and kids, and couldn’t stop drinking.
    I got help and turned my life around. I became a drill instructor for basic training and learned all about presenting, making lesson plans, and how to teach. After 4 years, I became a Master Resilience Trainer teaching Mental, Physical, Social, and Spiritual Resilience Skills. I also became a motivational speaker telling my story of resilience and hopefully changing the minds of those who think there’s no way out. The past years haven an incredible journey!