Friday, January 24, 2014

Storytelling: We love complexity but need simplicity

I've been doing a lot of speaking and I'm always working on making sure I am delivering something interesting and useful. It got me thinking about a few things I'd love your thoughts on.

The people I find the most interesting and engaging in life are the ones who seem to be full of passion and complexity, but are able to share it with me in a way that's short, punchy and compelling. They're also people who are interested in what's happening around them, drawing out stories and including others in the conversation. When speaking, it's an interesting challenge to look for the balance between talking for 30-60 minutes about Shoes of Prey while also involving the audience and hearing their interesting stories.

Being real
I know a lot of people get nervous about public speaking, but I'm really lucky to say that I don't. One reason is that I do it a lot. The other and possibly the biggest reason is that no-one outside of my co-founders and I know the topic of Shoes of Prey better. While I'm not an expert on the theories of marketing or technology, I'm someone who can share experiences. I can tell you what worked and what didn't at Shoes of Prey and my theories on why that happened. I can tell you what I would and wouldn't do again. And I aim to make this valuable and applicable for others. I try to share experiences that have short term actionable outcomes and also ones with longer-term more strategic thoughts that I haven't quite solved yet with a view that things I say may resonate now or at some time down the track when you face the same thing.

Dealing with complex topics
Shoes of Prey is a pretty complex person :) I generally try to stick to one topic in any presentation. I could spend hours on any single topic, let along covering multiple topics, so here's how I've broken it down:
  • Technology and how to use it to disrupt an industry
  • Technology and fashion
  • Retail: clicks to bricks, multichannel retailing, the future of retail
  • Women in business (the journey really is so different)
  • The personal journey of an entrepreneur: The truth as nobody tells it
  • How to deal with "failure" and how to properly assess the possibility of failure so it doesn't become a barrier to taking a step forward.
  • Stopping expertise from getting in the way of a good idea
  • Innovation: What it is, how to foster it
  • Agile: Why you have to do everything before you are ready
  • How to make the change from a traditional career to your dream career

    Sharing the experience
    Although I don't use quite as many anecdotes as Malcolm Gladwell, I do share learnings through stories. I do it to give context which can:
  • Set up mental triggers for when you find yourself in the same situation I was in
  • To try and make it memorable
  • To create a bridge between the learning and practical tips on how to/not to do the same thing.

    I never ever try to dress up my delivery with fancy anything. I have slides sometimes, but there's no fancy transitions, sound effects or video. My style and approach is to create an intimate discussion. I try not to take myself too seriously. I don't think about pauses and intonation. I just try and make it a great conversation. Like an audition to go to a really great dinner party.

    Being asked to speak
    I get about 3 requests a day and I'm just starting to look at formalising all of this with an agent. If you are or have ever been involved in this industry, I'd love to hear your tips!

    Who have been some of the best speakers you've seen?
    What did they do or say that really made an impact?
    What are some of the things you think about when you're speaking?
    Or, what are some of the worst things you've seen speakers do?

    Jodie x

  • 1 comment:

    1. Hi Jodie

      I have seen Steve McKnight (property guru) speak a number of times and I enjoy his passion and desire to really impact people's lives. Even though he's presenting to hundreds, I feel like he's talking to me. A good dose of humour and humility helps.

      I'm a bit like you, speaking doesn't bother me at all, in fact I enjoy it. My main goal is to make a connection with the audience. For smaller groups, if they don't ask me questions, I ask them. For larger groups, questions that involve a show of hands are a good way of engaging the audience.