On sharing your own personal story to make a difference
November 04, 2013
Here are two wonderful examples of telling your own personal story on stage. These two examples below are from the recent TEDxKyoto 2013 event which I attended. In storytelling, the key is to make sure your message is about the audience, not about yourself. This may seem counter intuitive when you are telling your own story, when you are talking about your own life, but it's actually not so hard. However, when I say "about your audience," I really mean *for* your audience. Even when you are sharing aspects of your own life, it's in the spirit of contribution. The best presentations are always about contribution. The important thing is to choose a theme from your own life that is clearly relevant for the audience. Whether your aim is to inform, inspire, or to persuade—or a mix of all of these—your theme should be something which people can relate to, something they can take away with them and ponder. In both cases below, the presenters tell you what happened in their past to bring them to where they are today, but those details, however interesting they may be, are not the key theme. The particulars of the events are not the main point to takeway. For example, Patrick Linehan's point really has nothing to do with being a gay man. Similarly, Megumi Nishikura's message is not only for those in biracial/bicultural families. The themes of both presenters are really for anyone who has struggled with feeling "different" or feeling alienated and alone (which would include just about everyone at some point). The theme of embracing one's own difference—and the resilience needed to do so—is a message for almost everyone. These talks clearly resonated with the largely Japanese audience in Kyoto, I hope they resonate with you as well.
Embracing Different: Patrick Linehan at TEDxKyoto 2013
TEDxKyoto curator Prof. Jay Klaphake and I worked with Patrick a few times on his story and his delivery. Jay worked with Patrick more than I did. I created the slides to have a vintage photo album or scrapbook feel since Patrick simply wanted to show some old photos and project a few key words. So the visuals were kept minimal, large, and very simple. The screen was massive so all 1500 in attendance could easily see the old snapshots on the canvas behind Patrick. Although the video does not show it, the audience all stood and gave Patrick a very long ovation, one of the loudest and longest of the day. (YouTube link.)
Patrick Linehan on stage at TEDxKyoto 2013.
Explorations into being Hafu: Megumi Nishikura at TEDxKyoto 2013
Megumi is a young filmmaker who grew up in Japan and the USA. She was born in Japan to a Japanese father and an Irish-American mother. Perhaps it's because I'm a member of a bicultural/biracial/bilingual family myself, but Megumi's talk very much resonated with me. I loved her delivery and her mix of snapshots of her past growing up in Japan and the USA. She was so inspired by her experience she created a feature film called "Hafu." Although Megumi's and Patrick's talks are very different in content, they share a similar and power theme that is relevant for everyone. (YouTube link.)
Megumi Nishikura's talk visually contained a mix of short bilingual messages and photographs (and her movie trailer).
• See more TEDxKyoto talks.
• TEDxKyoto on Flickr.
Sometimes, the right thing comes at the right time. Both of these talks hit home. Telling your own story needs to be about contribution. I needed these talks today...and got them.
Posted by: Mike Sporer | November 04, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Right on, Mike! That's good to hear. :-)
Posted by: garr | November 04, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I published part of it, of course with a link, here:
Thank you. I knew it intuitively and did try as you said. Why tell it if it does not help or resonates. But I did not understand those telling me: "it is not about you, it is about the audience."
Reading your clear explanation I understand better what 'they' meant.
It is not "about" it is FOR the audience. Of course!
Posted by: Julie Kertesz | November 05, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Thanks, Julie! Awesome!
Posted by: garr | November 12, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Toastmasters provides a quick & easy way to begin speaking. Local clubs around the world.
Posted by: Darrel | November 14, 2013 at 05:33 AM