For Podbean's Storytelling Podcast Week, I interviewed Laura Bergells. Listen to a condensed version of the live event using the player below or in the Grammar Girl podcast in your favorite podcast app.
Laura Bergells is a business communication coach and executive trainer, and she leads workshops on storytelling. You can find her on Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn where she goes by maniactive. Laura is also a LinkedIn Learning instructor, and teaches communication courses, including public speaking, crisis communication, and establishing credibility. All those courses have a thread of storytelling in them, and they're available free for LinkedIn premium members.
In this interview:
- I told the story of how I started Grammar Girl, and Laura commented that it's what Kindra Hall might call a founder's story in her book "Stories That Stick." It's in a specific place and time. It starts with "this is the normal" and ends at the new normal. It goes through emotions, and I showed a lot of vulnerability, so people begin to relate to the story because everyone has started something. Specific details help make the story more engaging. Finally, there's a problem I had to overcome.
- We talked about how a big problem with people in business is that they forget to tell stories altogether. Companies often have a culture of presentation instead of a culture of storytelling.
- We explored how, in storytelling (in audio, but also in presentations if you don't get carried away with visuals), we are relying on the theater of the mind, which is a fabulous way to engage and teach people. As much as we'd like to believe that people are convinced by facts, years of cognitive research show that we are convinced by stories and emotions (and then we often find facts to support our decisions).
- I shared how my DonorsChoose campaign struggled until I started telling stories about teachers, and then Laura deconstructed my story about that struggle.
- I asked Laura for ways to improve my founder story, and she suggested that I try telling it in the present tense as a naive narrator instead of taking an omniscient view, and that reminded me of changes I've seen in fiction.
- Laura told a story that made me gasp and laugh, but in which not much happened, and then we talked about how that could be so entertaining—what is the role of humor in storytelling?
You can listen to the interview using the player at the top of this page, or you can read a complete rough transcript.