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Remember Joe the Plumber?  Of course you do.  He became one of the stars of the 2008 presidential election, a living symbol of the issues that divided Republicans and Democrats. Joe the Plumber was a classic example of using storytelling to liven up otherwise unlively information.  That’s because storytelling is a great tool, and it’s something that should be part of every one of your events.

Why?  Simple—people love hearing about other people.  And whether you use storytelling to illustrate a theme, support change or inspire performance, it’s arguably the best way to hold an audience’s attention while you make your point.

We hit on the idea of storytelling briefly in my last blog post, when I wrote about using the personal photos of leaders to build content at your January Leadership Conference.  Collecting photos and inviting people to talk about what’s in those photos is a fantastic way to incorporate the power of storytelling into your key messages.  You have words AND pictures.  But there are other ways to go about it as well.  Here are just a few ideas:

 1- Solicit!  Your audience at any event is a library full of stories waiting to be told.  Before, or even during an event, ask who has a great personal story that can support an idea you’re presenting.  Then incorporate that story into your presentation, or better yet, ask the owner of the story to tell it.  Your January Leadership Conference is a great place to collect and solicit stories you can use throughout the year and at your national convention.  Don’t miss the opportunity!

 2- Search!  What’s your topic? What words or terms might be related to your topic?  Use Google or any other search engine to uncover news, anecdotes, videos and more things that will add variety and human interest to your presentation.  Or go to the creative commons section of Flickr.com or other photo websites to find images that can help turn your words into pictures.

 3- Reflect!  What about your own stories?  What moment happened in your own personal life or career could carry your message forward?  The memory doesn’t even have to relate directly to your topic, as long as it helps you transition to it.   

 I’ll leave you with two great websites that are excellent storytelling resources.  Check out www.StoryCorps.org and www.TheMoth.org.  They’re both full of great stories from everyday people.  And if you still doubt the power of storytelling to add power to your event, check this out– The Moth website even has its own Corporate Training & Events page at www.themoth.org/corporate.

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches– like storytelling– to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at http://luceandassociates.com/Dick-Wilson.html.

Choosing a Theme for Your Next Event


A theme is an important component of a meeting, but probably not for the reasons you think. So before you spend hours in brainstorming meetings in anticipation of your 2011 event themes, consider why themes exist and what they’re really meant to do. To do that, you need to understand 2 basic truths about themes.

Truth #1: Your audience doesn’t care about your theme. Really, they don’t. A theme is like so many other things at an event—it’s only likely to be noticed or remembered if it’s absent, weird or not working. If you need confirmation just ask anyone who attended one of your recent events what its theme was. Chances are they won’t remember, probably because they never knew what it was in the first place. And that’s fine, because the theme really isn’t for the attendees at all!

Truth #2: Your theme is for you. Regardless of your role in an event, a good theme is your best friend. It will help you decorate your room, design your logo, write your scripts and create your Powerpoints. So choose your themes thoughtfully and carefully. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Less is more. The theme is the official name for your conference, so keep it short. For years it seemed as though “verb the noun” themes (Seize the Day, Leading the Way, etc.) would never go away. Fortunately these days one and two-word themes are more common and more workable.
  2. What kind of starting point does your theme present? Your theme should be versatile enough to let you go places with it, lots of places. For example, a theme like “Imagine” opens up all sorts of possibilities… creativity in business, the future, famous artists and their works, the list could go on and on.
  3. Think of your theme as the bookends for your event. Picture yourself delivering your opening and your closing remarks. Imagine what you’ll say about your theme—why you chose it, how it relates to the audience, your event, your key announcements. Then consider what your parting words will be to your audience and how you’ll wrap your theme around that. Your theme should provide the logical bookends for your event. If the words come to you naturally and quickly, you have a good theme.

Quick! What was the theme of the last event you attended?!

Dick Wilson has over 20 years experience writing and producing events for direct sales companies. Learn more how Dick can help you at http://luceandassociates.com/Dick-Wilson.html.

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