Telling Stories About Storytelling

Most of my time is spent working with clients, helping them craft and deliver impactful talks, but once in a while I have the opportunity to hang out with a master storyteller and have an in-depth conversation on the art of storytelling. Such was the case when I was a guest on the Speak Like a Leader podcast, hosted by John Bates, the founder of Executive Speaking Success.

I met John back in my TEDx days, when I was organizing TEDxSanDiego and he was at the helm of TEDxSantaMonica, and our first conversation centered on what makes a good story. We’ve stayed connected over the years and still share a common passion for helping others uncover and tell their personal stories.

Mark Lovett on Speaker Like a Leader Podcast

[listen to the entire podcast here or listen to an excerpt below]

Behind the scenes at a TEDx event

We started out talking about the TEDx world from the viewpoint of a TEDx organizer, and I shared the advice that I give to everyone who wants to be on a TED or TEDx stage – that your story should be based on your passion, on a topic that you’re speaking about or writing about on other platforms. The more you’re doing that, the more likely that an organizer will come across your work and think of you as a thought leader on the topic. John’s brilliant insight was that everyone should be living a TED-worthy life. Which is to say, you should be making a difference in the world regardless of whether you get on a TEDx stage.

Mark Lovett as quoted on the Speak Like a Leader podcast #1

What’s unique about you?

We also got into the nuts and bolts of storytelling, and the importance of your unique voice, your view of the world, and the way that can shift perspectives of people in the audience, teach them something, or expand their horizons. With the best TED and TEDx talks, I always think and feel a bit different after the talk concludes. What do listeners think and feel about your topic beforehand, and then after your talk? If there was no difference, then your talk had no impact.

Mark Lovett as quoted on the Speak Like a Leader podcast #2

We also addressed the issue of preparation, as this is one of the most frequently asked questions from potential speakers. How to get ready for the stage. You’ll hear many different opinions on the topic of memorizing, from those who believe in it, to those who avoid it. In working with hundreds of clients over the years, John and I have come to realize that each speaker is unique, and they need to figure out what works best for them.

Regardless of method, the key thing is to rehearse, and rehearse, and rehearse. You need to become very familiar with the points that you want to make during your talk. And a great way to do that is by rehearsing in front of friends or family who will give you honest feedback. Then go back and edit, and rehearse again.

There’s so much more that we covered during our hour together, and it was such an honor to spend time talking to John Bates about the magic of storytelling. So give this episode a listen, and then subscribe to the podcast to hear John interview a wide range of subject matter experts.

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A Social Innovation Story, Impactathon 2020

I’m not the biggest fan of social media, but I do appreciate the benefit of making connections on digital platforms, as I never know when someone will reach out with an interesting offer. Such was the case when Neetal Parekh sent me a note on LinkedIn. Having seen some of my answers on Quora in regards to my time spent organizing TEDx events, she had a few questions about the TEDx model.

It turns out Neetal was an event organizer in her own right, having produced a series of Impactathons as a way to inspire social entrepreneurs in their quest to tackle the world’s most pressing social issues. She’s also the author of the book 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship, the host of The Impact Podcast by Innov8social, as well as a frequent speaker, facilitator, and moderator on topics including social enterprises and social entrepreneurship.

Her next event, Impactathon for Future Flourishing, was focused on the vexing problem of global poverty, and after our deep dive into the crazy world of TEDx organizing, Neetal ask if I would like to be an Impact Catalyst and provide the participants with a few tips on storytelling. I was happy to help.

Innov8social Impactathon 2020

Preceding the Impactathon I had the pleasure of recording an interview along with Mwihaki Muraguri, an impact storyteller and Principal at Paukwa House. We had a great conversation in regards to storytelling in the social impact arena as the entrepreneurs formed teams and began crafting their pitches.

Curious About Impactathon?

Impactathon 2020 Executive Summary

What is an Impactathon®?

Impactathons are impact-focused hackathon experiences designed to engage participants in mapping problems and designing solutions that address the needs of our global society. Teams of social entrepreneurs come up with innovative ideas for creating change, and the process culminates with brief pitches before a panel of judges.

  • Designed for learning – They incorporate best practices from the science of learning including focused and diffuse learning.
  • Engaging a problem-solving mindset – Providing frameworks and incorporating design-thinking principles.
  • Co-created with local partners – Providing frameworks and incorporating design-thinking principles.

Why Engage in an Impactathon®?

  • Hear Impact Talks from thinkers and doers in the space.
  • On topics such as how to identify gaps in a system, why some social enterprises fail, how to stay aligned with a mission, how to create a meaningful career in social impact.
  • Engage in social impact through a hackathon experience.
  • Including design thinking approach, getting feedback, using concepts of lean methodology, pivoting, working in teams, pitching, using storytelling and presentation techniques.
  • Learn core concepts of engaging in the social impact sector.
  • Such as how to frame a problem (root causes v. symptom), how to adopt a social entrepreneurship mindset, examples of business models, legal structures, and ways to measure social impact.
  • Join a global community of aligned impact problem solvers.
  • Meet your next co-founder, investor, or team member during Impactathon. After the event, you will have the option to join and engage with fellow Impactathoners, including participants, speakers, and mentors and learn about emerging resources in the space.

What Do Participants Say?

“Impactathon embodies the spirit of social innovation in an organic, authentic way through programmed problem solving, real collaboration, and action-oriented ideation.”

“There is something about being surrounded by passionate, innovative people who truly want to make the world better. Impactathon is a fun and collaborative experience that is incredibly energizing.”

“What really impressed me about the Impactathon was how it offered its participants different outlets to generate ideas, or simply get the creative juices flowing.”

Hats off to Neetal and all of the social impact entrepreneurs who participated in this year’s Impactathon!

Learn more about the coaching process or
contact me to discuss your storytelling goals!

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Interviewing From a Historical Perspective

The process of crafting an impactful story often begins with identifying events and insights from your life’s journey, but such stories become more compelling and diverse when they include the experiences of others, as additional voices will broaden and deepen the narrative landscape, allowing audience’s to better understand the point you’re proposing, or the lessons you have learned.

One way to do this is by interviewing people who can offer listeners/readers a perspective that expands beyond yours. As with the disciplines of writing and speaking, interviewing is an art form that one must study and practice. When clients ask me how to conduct interviews I steer them to the On Being podcast, hosted by Krista Tippett.

Her interviews with renowned scholars, writers, poets, scientists, and religious leaders explore the most fundamental and profound questions. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? If you’re looking to sharpen your storytelling skills, consider this podcast is an interviewing masterclass.

The podcast recently replayed a timely episode recorded on November 17, 2016: This History is Long; This History Is Deep – it’s an interview with Isabel Wilkerson. By reading the transcript while listening you can identify when Krista is diving deeper into a particular topic, or moving their conversation into new territory.

…our country is like a really old house. I love old houses. I’ve always lived in old houses. But old houses need a lot of work. And the work is never done. And just when you think you’ve finished one renovation, it’s time to do something else. Something else has gone wrong. ~ Isabel Wilkerson

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