“The fact that what we say and do can be captured through audio, pen and paper, or video and retold as a story, is a beautiful thing, or really scary depending on how you look at it,” says Kim Behrens Kaufman in the introduction of her TEDxNormal talk. “Think, before you act.”
I had the honor of sharing the stage with Kim during TEDxNormal, and also discussed storytelling in my presentation, “The Importance of Being an Unselfish Storyteller.”
Kim’s background in communication, which includes television anchoring and reporting, is evident in her clear and engaging delivery, and her belief in the power of storytelling.
The majority of us know that stories are useful, but we don’t know what makes one story engaging while another is boring or just doesn’t connect with us. According to Kim, stories should have each of the following seven elements, which fit into the acronym IMAGINE:
Gain an audience
Even with all of the right elements, the delivery matters. Influential stories are often the quiet ones. “Sometimes, the best stories don’t come from being the loudest person in the room, but instead, from saying nothing at all. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. When we listen and shine that spotlight away from ourselves to focus on someone else, that’s when the real magic can begin.”
As I also firmly believe, Kim says, “A person’s story is more interesting than statistics or metrics because people are relatable.” What we often relate to within someone is their story, and it’s what inspired Kim’s talk.
Kim shared how one of her greatest works came from simply allowing someone else to be the focus of a story instead of taking the spotlight for herself.
While interviewing an elderly woman who lost her husband, Kim began asking questions about their life together. With every answer the woman gave, she began radiating more and more, as memories of their life together came flooding back to her.
As Kim and the woman continued their conversation, the information she gained made a seemingly ‘normal’ story anything but. Kim received great quotes from the woman, emotional statements, and funny memories to use in her article.
The ability to listen and concentrate on what someone else is saying and what they are sharing is a lost art, and something that can connect us with others. If we are focusing on ourselves, we will be oblivious to the stories that others are trying to share with us.
Kim concluded her speech with the following: “When it comes to storytelling, whether you regard yourself as a writer or not; remember that actions happen in a fleeting moment, but the story lasts forever. Listen, and choose wisely.”