I come from a family of storytellers. My mother is a writer and has written a book as well as short stories and poems. She even had a weekly column in the Sydney Morning Herald where she wrote about the dynamics of having four children under the age of five and a half. Every night at dinner, my mother would pull out something to read to us; a newspaper article, short story, poem, essay. We would roll our eyes and ask how many pages? Now, I'm grateful for the impromptu nightly education we received. I love stories and now I can see how powerful they are. In becoming a meaning maker, I explain that we come from tribes. In tribes, story was the most effective way of passing down knowledge, why? Because it connects with our limbic system. This is a fascinating part of the unconscious brain where we process emotion, and since on the whole we make emotional decisions posts rationalize with logic, it's part of the decision-making section of the brain. The limbic system also stores long-term memories, it's where we see pitches and images, and interestingly it's also where we experience pain. It's where we learn from, and it's where we receive and store stories. So if you want to influence someone's decisions, tell them an emotionally connected even painful story with lots of images where you teach your audience what they need to learn. It will not only influence them, but they will also store it as a long-term memory, pretty amazing. It sounds easy and it is. It's very natural to want to express yourself through story. But how do you tell a story so that it has the impact you'd like? I mean you can't just tell any story or can you? How do you structure a story successfully? Let's find out. Many years ago, I studied script writing with two of the best LA screenplay consultants, Steven Kaplan and Michael Hague. They told us that 90 percent of the films that are successful at the box office follow the same structure. It seems that as an audience, we appreciate the predictable pattern of a story. Many have tried to identify what that structure is. The most famous story structure is of course Aristotle's three-act structure which Lawrence talked about. The first act, the second act, and the third act. Or the beginning, middle, and end. That's very simple and not incredibly helpful. People have since tried to give this structure more details so that they can get consistent results. The second most famous structure is in the hero's journey. It's in Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Christopher Vogler further developed it in his book called, The Writer's Journey. However, the hero's journey although it is awesome is very complicated. Have a look at the different steps in this diagram. When you're speaking to your audience, how can you simply construct a story so that it has the intended impact? The narrative arc also called Freytag's Pyramid designed by Gustav Freytag is made up of the following elements: Number one, the exposition. The opening of the story, which includes an intro to the characters and the settings. Number two, the rising action. A series of events that complicates matters for your characters and results in increased drama or suspense. Three, climax. The big showdown where your characters encounter their opposition and either win or lose. Four, falling action. A series of events that unfold after the climax and lead to the end of the story. Five, the resolution. The end of the story, in which the problems are resolved or not resolved depending on the story, also called the denouement, catastrophe or revelation. This is an excellent and simple description of the proper structure of a story. Want something a little different? Why not try a disturbance and two doorways of no return. James Scott Bell describes in his book, Plot and Structure, how it works. Here the hero is faced with a decision, he's pressured to make that decision and there's no turning back, his life will change forever. There are many different structures for a story because I like alliteration, I have created my own. My structure goes a little bit like this: The set up, portray the hero as like-able and relatable so that the audience invests in the character. Seeks, protagonist has a desire that she or he cannot fulfill with the skills or resources they currently have. Stopped, they reach the obstacle and don't know what to do. Suffers, this is the dark night of the soul, all seems hopeless. Here they have to overcome their biggest fear in order to obtain their burning desire. Surrender, they surrender their ego, learn what they need to and in doing so overcome the obstacle. Success, they received the symbolic trophy and have their desires fulfilled usually not in the way they imagined and usually with a far greater reward than they would've thought. Wanting even shorter version, how about this SOS? The Situation or Set up. Describe the situation and the main person, protagonist. Makes sure they are relatable and likable so the audience invests emotionally in them. The obstacle preventing this person from getting what they want, and the solution how they overcame the obstacle and how great it is now. You can make this your own story all about helping a client. In this case, it would be the situation or setup where you describe the situation of your client. The obstacle is what is preventing your client from getting what they want, and the solution is how you helped your client overcome the obstacle, and how great it is for them now. What's the best way to get good at telling stories, notice and practice. First, notice when you're telling stories you do it all the time with friends, colleagues, and even strangers. It's a powerful device we unconsciously use to build rapport and connection by exchanging experiences. Then, practice any opportunity you have. As Lauren said,'' Even in a short story at the beginning of a meeting or a picture or presentation, my sales conversations are simply a series of stories." They helped me convey the logos, information, increased the pathos, emotional connection, and show my ethos, my values and beliefs. So go forth and tell stories, see how well people respond, how much more they trust you, feel closer to you, and remember what you've said.