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Stories that change the world

The stories that change the world are stories that get told.

No matter how groundbreaking your story is,
it can’t change the world until you tell it.

If you don’t tell yours,
other people’s stories will fill the void.

They are not flawless, either.
They are not perfectly eloquent.

But they get told.
That’s why they change the world.

The people behind these stories started to tell them.
Somewhere. Often in an unpolished form.

But they told it.
That’s why they change the world.

You can always polish it later.
Listen to the feedback and tweak it.

But you need to tell it.
That’s how you change the world.

So, what’s your story?
We’d love to hear it.

The better story wins

From a communication angle, influence is a pretty simple game: Whoever tells the better story wins.

It’s not the most accurate facts, the most complete analysis, or even the best intentions.

It’s the best story.

Which means that if you care for the facts, the analysis, and the intention, you need to get better at weaving them into a compelling story.

If you don’t, the facts remain facts etc. … while other people’s stories connect to the audience.

PS: We need, of course, an understanding of what makes a story “better”. Would love to hear your take on that!

The star of the show

The star of the show is not always the hero of the story.
In fact, in business, they are hardly ever the same.

The star might be Canva, the user-friendly graphic design tool, but the hero is the small business owner who becomes a confident designer.

The star might be Amazon Web Services, the scalable cloud computing platform, but the hero is the fledgling tech startup who becomes an industry innovator without the need for massive capital investment.

Or the star might be the famous public speaker who captivates the room with eloquence and insight, but the hero is the individual in the audience who sees a new path ahead.

Who’s the star of your show?
Who’s the hero?

The hero’s pedestal

Here’s a little secret for everyone who feels at least a little pressure when going on a stage to give a speech.

Everyone in the audience already has a hero: themselves.

They don’t show up to cheer for you.
They want you to cheer for them.

Which is pretty good news for you because it means that you can stop trying so hard to appear as the hero.

The hero’s pedestal is a notoriously difficult place to be at.

All eyes are on you.
Everyone expects you to save the world from evil.

Which means there’s a constant pressure of proving that you deserve standing up there.

Essentially, it creates a disconnect.

You, the extraordinary, stand high up on the hero’s pedestal while they, the normals, are down on the floor.

This disconnect isn’t just uncomfortable.
It’s a barrier.
To engagement.
To impact.
To transformation.

That changes the moment you switch your role to that of the mentor who helps the audience live up to the hero’s expectations.

When you frame your audience as the heroes, it flips the script on the typical speaker-listener dynamic. It’s empowering and ennobling for them.

Rather than ask “What will impress them?” you ask the (more important) question of “What will help them?”

It eases the pressure on you, because the focus shifts from proving yourself to aiding them.

How might viewing your audience as heroes transform your next presentation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS: This is a short excerpt from my free eBook “Speak Easy” with a simple 4 step approach to show up with more confidence. Download it here: https://michaelgerharz.com/speak-easy

Feels right

Some narratives just

won’t go away.
Why?

The data is clear.
Yet people believe the lie.
But why?

Because it feels right.
That’s why.

People aren’t good at feeling data.

That’s why it’s hard to compete on facts with a story that resonates on an emotional level.

If something feels right, we’re pretty good at coming up with good reasons for why it is right. If something just is right but feels wrong, that’s much harder.

Have you had that experience?
How did you deal with it?

Finding the right words matters so much

Great storytelling fuels influence.
Which is good, bad, and ugly … some thoughts on how to deal with bullshitters:

If you manage to tell a story that resonates well with many people, you can make a huge impact.

The good is that this power is available to everyone.

The bad is that “everyone” includes the bullshitters.

The ugly is that bullshitters often wield storytelling as a tool to manipulate or mislead, rather than to enlighten or entertain. They shamelessly ignore the truth. It’s just not a concept that matters to them.

The only question that matters to a bullshitter is:
Does the story work to their advantage?
When it works it’s just fine. True or not.

Now, this is important to understand: They are not exactly lying. In order to lie, they would need to care for the truth. Which they don’t. They are simply not interested in the truth. They are only interested in achieving their goals.

Here’s where people get it wrong: They assume that bullshitters would be similar to themselves. That deep inside even a bullshitter would care for the truth. That they just need to be convinced of the facts.

But that’s not how bullshitters roll.

They don’t care about the truth.
Therefore, they don’t care about facts.
Therefore, they can’t be convinced by facts, no matter how hard you try.

Bullshitters care about whether it works. Nothing else matters to them. Again: They couldn’t care less about whether they are right or wrong.

If a story resonates, they will tell it.
If a made-up story resonates better,
they will switch to that story.

You shouldn’t treat them as similar to you. They are not. Unlike yourself, they have no sympathy for the truth.

The only thing that can make make them stop what they’re doing is when their story stops working.

And that, essentially, means that you need to tell better stories.

You need to find a way to tell the truth in a way that resonates stronger than the bullshitter’s made-up story.

That, I think, is the only way.

And it’s why – in times like ours – finding the right words matters so much.

Telling stories is something that bullshitters really excel at. You need to become better at it.

For example … 

… when bullshitters are extraordinarily good at making their audience feel heard, you need to become even better at understanding people’s struggles and desires.

… when bullshitters promise the blue from the skies, you need to become even better at finding words that resonate strongly but that are grounded in the truth.

In other words, we need to shift our focus away from trying to convince the bullshitter (which is never going to work) and onto the people we want to resonate with.

The more empathy we have for them, the better our stories can become.

The better our stories become, the better they can spread.

The better they spread, the bigger their impact.

That flavor of impact starts with empathy, honesty, and the will to find the right words.

If you care for the truth and want it to have impact, you need to care for finding true stories that resonate strongly.

What’s your strategy of dealing with bullshit?

The simple truth about storytelling

Contrary to what some storytelling coaches want you to believe, in the end there’s only one thing you need to understand about storytelling.

And it’s this question: “What happens next?”

I mean, of course, you can say a lot more about storytelling. The hero’s journey does work. “Show, don’t tell!” is useful advice. As is the three-act-structure and many other techniques …

But in the end, all of that is optional.

Because the only thing that matters is whether your audience is curious to learn more. If you nail that, it doesn’t matter whether it’s through the hero’s journey or some other fancy framework.

Storytelling really isn’t a mystical art locked behind gates of complexity. At its core, it’s simple, straightforward, and something anyone can absolutely do.

Just tap into your audience’s curiosity!

That’s it.

If your audience wants to know more, you’ve nailed it. Even if you’ve never heard of the hero’s journey or any other storytelling formula … when your story makes people sit up and wonder what’s next, you’re telling a great story.

“What happens next?” is the only questions you need to ask for that. The better you understand your audience’s needs, their desires, their questions, the easier it will become to find a compelling answer to that question.

If it’s using the hero’s journey, that’s totally fine (it means you’re using it right). But if you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry! The more important information is to know your audience.

So, what is your audience dying to know?

If your story is messy

… don’t add more; find its heart and show that.

Take a step back, subtract the non-essential, and amplify the essential!

The Tipping Point

There’s a tipping point in the journey of preparing a speech.

It’s that electric instant when heart, gut, and mind synchronize, and you’re swept up in a tide of confidence and pride because everything clicks into place.

It’s the best part of any session with my clients.

Imagine we’re pouring over your narrative, dissecting thoughts, and assessing arguments in an intense session. The walls begin to fill with thoughts. It still very much feels like chaos.

But at some point, things start to shift …

Slowly at first.

And then, rather suddenly, it happens. A wave of realization hits. You look at the wall and a genuine, irrepressible smile forms. You’re not just pleased—you’re thrilled! Your gut feels it, your heart swells with pride, and your intellect nods in staunch approval. Chaos has turned to order, confusion to clarity. The story now unfolds in your mind with crystal clarity.

If you closed your eyes at that moment you would maybe see yourself on the stage. The spotlight shines, not as a daunting glare but as a warm embrace. The audience fades into a blur, but their energy is palpable. As you deliver your story, each word is uttered with conviction. Each slide, each gesture, and each pause is deliberate, powerful. The world witnesses not just the speaker, but a storyteller in full command, an orator who has grown beyond their already impressive standards.

This is no fantasy. It’s attainable – a reality, in fact, that I get to witness regularly with my clients.

The storyteller’s rope

Why did the storyteller bring a rope to his talk? To tie his stories together, but he just ended up tangling them more!

No, seriously, there’s a stark difference between crafting a cohesive narrative and cobbling together a bunch of stories, hoping that something sticks. The latter is like trying to make sense of a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from different boxes. Sure, each piece might be colorful and captivating, but together they’re just a confusing mess. The former, however, is an art form – using individual stories to guide the audience to a meaningful destination on a meaningful path.

Kudos to anyone who can weave in that hilarious story about their cat, a trip to Bermuda, and that one time they met a celebrity in an elevator. But if by the end of it, I’m left wondering what the connection was, or worse, what the entire talk was about, then we’ve missed the mark entirely.

It’s not about how many cool anecdotes you can cram in. It’s about making sure every thread counts. Don’t distract with the flash and the flair. If you’re just shooting for the “wow”, you’re probably missing the deeper “aha”.

Storytelling is a powerful tool, but think first about how the talk itself can be turned into a compelling story and only then about which stories and anecdotes can be used to illustrate your points.

Spread the Word

Picture of Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz