Chances are when you start out and are thinking of ways to tell your story, you won’t be sure it is going to work or if people will listen. I mean, what if you pick the wrong message, image, project, etc. to talk about? This can be intimidating to the point that many of us don’t even get started. On the other hand, some people are good at starting, but spend so much time revising and perfecting that their story never ends up seeing the light of day. So where do we start and how do we find the courage to finish and tell our story?

Starting with Empathy

Developing a deep sense of empathy towards people, especially the ones you are trying to reach, is one of the most important first steps. Without this, you are liable to tell a story that, not only misses the mark, but also could come across as “salesy”, selfish, or worse yet, dishonest. That is way harder to recover from than any typo or an otherwise authentic and vulnerable attempt that just doesn’t resonate.  People may ignore an imperfection but will shut down completely once they feel you can’t be trusted.

Understanding who you want to talk to and what they want to hear is paramount to your success. Your empathy will allow you to think about where your audience is coming from–what matters to them and then make assumptions about how to talk to them and how to frame your story.

Testing Assumptions

In marketing and branding, we make assumptions all the time. Some are right…some wrong, but the only real way to know for sure is to get your story out there and see how people react to it. Will they ignore it? Will they love it? Will they unsubscribe? Will they share it to all their trusted contacts? It’s hard to say, but they won’t do any of those things if it never gets told. So, when you think about it, getting it out there and seeing what happens is the only viable option.

Will you be wrong at times? Of course, but that can’t keep you from telling your story to the world–it is too important for that, isn’t it? Plus, each time it doesn’t go as planned, you’ll learn from your mistakes, right? As mentioned earlier, people will forgive authentic flaws or missteps that come from a good place–especially if you demonstrate you learned from them. Some people might embrace your story even more because of that authenticity–after all, that is what it means to be human, right?

Embracing the Wrong

The great storyteller learns to transcend the fear of being wrong. She knows that, if her story is coming from a place of empathy and remains authentic in trying to reach the people she honestly believes should hear it, she can recover from just about any misstep. She also knows that the price of not telling her story at all is way too high to be an option.

By embracing the possibility of getting it wrong and trusting that if she focuses on telling the right story to the right people, she understands it is way more likely that her story will connect. More importantly, by coming at it from this approach, those that do connect with it will be more likely to listen to her time and time again and, even share her story with others.

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