This week we focus on TELLING OUR STORY – as in writing fiction and non-fiction, the power of metaphors, talking to the media, and why we all need a personal 60-second infomercial!

Let’s do this!

This Week’s Podcast:

I just released this week’s ?podcast, focused on TELLING YOUR STORY with best-selling author, consultant and legal veteran Norman Bacal.  Yes, the same Norman Bacal who recently shared his expertise with us on LISTENING SKILLS!

Norman Bacal
Norman Bacal

Norm practiced law for over 35 years, during which he mentored two generations of young lawyers and built a major law firm from the ground up to one of the top firms in the country – Heenan Blaikie. Five years ago, the law and business communities were stunned when Heenan Blaikie collapsed

As you will hear in the podcast, four long months later, Norm’s wife said to him, “Listen, you have two choices. You’ve become a very angry person. And you need to process your feelings. And either you’re going to write them down, or you’re going to go see a therapist.”

Andrea with Norm's book, Breakdown
Andrea with Norm’s book, Breakdown

Fast-forward to 2020, and Norm is now a best-selling author with some sage advice for us on how to TELL YOUR STORY, including:

  • The writing PROCESS: Get in the habit of writing in the same block of time every day. “If you do anything for 21 days consecutively, it’s a habit and it becomes hard to break.” “Once I started writing, the stories just started coming, pouring out, I couldn’t get to them fast enough. And I had 35 years of stories to tell.”
  • “The people who are the greatest SUCCESSES are the best storytellers.”  The best lawyers in the courtroom are proficient storytellers. Stories spark our imagination and keep our attention by evoking emotion.
  • The stories we write can be our LEGACY.
  • METAPHORS are critical tools for story telling.  Norm references several metaphors, including the firm as “Hotel California” (you can never leave), and lawyers as wolves or dogs…!
  • We should all create our own 60 second INFOMERCIAL.  Memorize it – not just for job interviews, but also for the surprise meeting with the CEO! (Norm recommends this book to help you craft your 60-second infomercial.)
  • How to talk to the MEDIA see below.


Telling Your Story to the MEDIA

Have you ever had to speak to the media? Have you ever taken a “media training 101” course?

telling your story to the media
(Unsplash | @tylercaseyprod)
Personally, I have been interviewed several times as a guest expert for TV, radio, and newspaper articles focused on marketing communications. (Nothing controversial!)

Norman Bacal on TVO
Norman Bacal on TVO
Over the course of his career, this week’s podcast guest expert, lawyer Norman Bacal had to speak with the media on several occasions. Based on his experience, here’s Norm’s advice:

DO stick to your key message.
DO NOT go off script!

Norman says we need to understand that our comments will be taken out of context. As such, we need to be 100% focused on our key message. (I was going to share some other “media training 101” advice with you, but that would be ironic, wouldn’t it? ?)

This also explains why in so many news interviews, the interviewee seems to ignore the question. Have you ever noticed that?

There’s a reason that they call journalists “the PRESS,” right? 

Just stick with your key message!
Got it!


Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

Most of us have a story worth telling and many of us have considered writing a book. Norman Bacal is exceptional (in many ways!) because he has written both non-fiction and fiction best-sellers! 

Breakdown by Norman Bacal   Odell's Fall by Norman Bacal
Beyond the obvious “fact” versus “fiction,” here are a few differences between non-fiction and fiction that you may not have considered:
  • They say that non-fiction is “held to a higher standard” than fiction. One of the key challenges in writing non-fiction is that you cannot alter the trajectory to make it more interesting, and all facts must be meticulously fact-checked. (Do you remember when James’ Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” was kicked out of Oprah’s bookclub?)
  • One of the key challenges in writing fiction is that the whole story needs to be woven together – integrated. Metaphors are particularly effective tools for this purpose.
  • The top selling book genres are:
                 1. Romance/Erotica (fiction)
                 2. Crime/mystery (fiction)
                 3. Religious/Inspirational (non-fiction)
                 4. Sci-Fi/Fantasy (fiction)
                 5. Horror (fiction)
                 1. Comedy (fiction & non-fiction)
                 2. Education (non-fiction) – That’s Talk About Talk!
                 3. News (non-fiction)
  • Sure, non-fiction may make us “smarter.” But research shows that reading fiction makes us more empathetic. Even after controlling for age, experience with English, and intelligence, lifetime exposure to fiction increases performance on empathy/social-acumen measures.

telling your story
(Unsplash | @ratushny)
I hope you enjoy this week’s podcast on TELLING YOUR STORY.  You can LISTEN to it here or READ it here.

Please tell me what you think!  And if you’re a lawyer, I would ❤️love to hear your reaction to Norm’s description (his metaphor) of “lawyers with time on their hands” !!! 

I’m super-excited about some upcoming podcast topics, including:

  • Using POSTURE & BREATHING to improve your communication
  • Communicating in a COMPETITIVE environment
  • and more!

Do you have other topic suggestions? Comments?  Email me anytime, or join us in the Talk About Talk private Facebook group!

Have a great week! 

Talk soon,

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach

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