How To Tell Stories That Sell with Kyle Gray
Entrepreneur, Author, & Story Strategist
"A story is an ancient technology that helps us make meaning and draw conclusions. A story well done leads us down a path that guides us to a decision. It's an experience that enters our mind."
Before we introduce you to Kyle — our special guest on today's episode of the podcast — let's play a quick game.
Here are the rules:
Imagine that you're standing in front of a group full of your ideal customers.
You have exactly 10 minutes to tell them a story.
When your 10 minutes are up, if someone walks up to you and buys your product, course, or membership, you win!
If on the other hand no one buys anything from you… you lose.
Ask yourself, how confident are you that you could actually win this game?
Do you know the exact story you would tell that would all but guarantee someone buys your product or service?
If you're like most people, you'd probably need a little help crafting the perfect story for your audience.
This is where Kyle comes in.
You see, Kyle is an entrepreneur, author, and story strategist. He helps coaches, experts, and influencers create deeper levels of connection and trust with their audiences through the power of storytelling.
In this episode, Kyle carefully details three specific stories you can tell to instantly connect with your audience and move them to action. We also explore a number of fascinating topics related to storytelling and entrepreneurship.
After you listen to this episode, we have a feeling that you'll feel much more confident in your ability to tell a story that sells. We hope you enjoy!
|2:21||The true story of how storytelling saved Kyle's life|
|11:44||What is a story and how can you use yours?|
|17:57||The answer to a controversial question: Is storytelling manipulative?|
|20:07||Kyle details the three different stories you can tell that sell|
|24:47||Kyle helps Eric tell an epic tale about... pizza?|
|28:26||Story #2: The success projector story|
|34:53||Story #3: The aligned ending story|
|40:50||Where to learn more about Kyle|
Eric: Welcome to the show, Kyle.
Kyle: Thank you for having me, Eric.
Eric: It’s a pleasure to have you here. I’m so excited to talk to you about stories. You recently had a new book. Your second book come out, Selling with Story. So, congratulations with that.
Kyle: Thank you.
Eric: Now before we dive into how online entrepreneurs can put the power of storytelling to use in their marketing, I’d love to hear a little bit more about something that I read in the introduction to your book. And in it, you said that storytelling saved your life. Sounds like there’s a story here. So, can you share a bit of your own story with our listeners about that?
Kyle: Absolutely. This ties in with a lot of different things. I was recently talking with another member of MemberMouse, Matt, and he was interested in my time at WP Curve which was a startup that I worked for and that was kind of my first foray into content marketing. I joined them in late 2014 and worked for them for about a year. I was thrown into the deep end of content marketing. At that time, I was fresh out of college with a master’s degree in international affairs.
Though I had written a lot of papers before but writing great content for a startup and being graded by Twitter instead of somewhat indifferent professors is a whole another world.
Eric: But different.
Kyle: So, I was learning these skills and picking up these skills over several years. I’d also had the honor of working with a lot of different thought leaders and influencers like Chandler Bolt of Self Publishing School, helping them develop a content strategy and hire people. I’ve worked with some of the greatest presentation coaches and companies like Advance Your Reach out there. And while I was on this journey, working up these new abilities and storytelling, helping WP Curve grow to seven figures in annual recurring revenue off of the back of just solid content marketing and sharing our story on a month by month basis about how the business was developing and growing. And I was achieving all of these great things but personally, I was still suffering.
There were these weird things happening to me. As somebody in my mid-20s, I had really bad jaw pain. I was afraid to wake up each day wondering if I’m going to have another anxiety attack. I’d grind my teeth at night and wake up with headaches. I was just mentioning before we got on the recording how much I love being outdoors and spending time out there. And in this time, I couldn’t hike more than a quarter mile without some serious knee pain, which is a pretty scary thing. It felt like a prison cell in a lot of ways.
It took me several years and through little bits and little clues to discover that I had an autoimmune disease. That was the source and the root of a lot of what was going on and from what I knew about health and autoimmune diseases at the time, I thought I was totally screwed. I was stuck with this forever. And would have to start my day, replace my Fruit Loops that I had each morning with a bowl full of pills. This was kind of a challenging place for me to be and I didn’t know if I could still live the way I wanted to live. All the while, so I’m making this discovery and simultaneously I’m enhancing my skills and content marketing, copywriting and presentations.
And I can remember being at a very particular workshop I was helping facilitate. I was helping people position themselves as speakers in order to get more speaking gigs to present themselves and their stories from the stage. And this particular workshop just so happened to be filled with health and wellness experts. And I remember sitting down across the lunch table from one of these health experts and she said, “Hi, my name is Dr. Grace Liu, and I help people overcome chronic autoimmune diseases through gut health.”
I’ve never heard about gut health before but immediately, all of the wires in my storytelling brain started to light up and all of a sudden, it was connecting like it never had before with everything that I was learning about my own personal health. I said to her, “Oh, so your clients must feel like this. They want to do this, they try and do this but that happens.” Basically, describing the last few years of my life. Grace, her jaw dropped and she’s like, “You need to come work with me.” And so, we started working together.
And over the course of a year, whenever she had a presentation to share, I would help her get clear on the real value in what she was doing. And my perspective as somebody who was a patient and who had seen other friends of mine suffering from strange and weird things that you can’t really… It’s not a clear obvious thing. I didn’t make the connection that my jaw was connected to my anxiety, was connected to my fatigue, was connected to my knee pain, all of these things together. I didn’t make it until there.
And I realized how much of an uphill battle this doctor had to get her message out because she was selling very high-ticket services and programs. And if you can’t communicate the value as effectively as somebody who’s a B2B salesperson, then you’re going to have troubles.
So, we helped her with her presentation. I helped her ghostwrite a book about her process and her methodology. I helped her put together a course and a program that allowed her to sell more of her products and services at a bigger scalable way, applying everything that I had learned through all of these great people that I had studied under. And at the same time, she was helping me with the Hashimoto’s Protocol she had which was the name of the disease I have.
And so, within a month of working with her, that anxiety that once plagued me had faded away. And within three or four months, I’d never felt stronger, more clear minded and more confident in my life. And still, to this day, I’m feeling my body grow and advance and recover. Like every time somebody asked me, “Was it worth it?” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I feel stronger than ever.”
I was just doing hikes up a mountain just last weekend where I had to do this very difficult hike that I went solo and I had to backpack and carry everything I had in my backpack on my own. And I’m not a good backpacker which means I don’t have very lightweight, small stuff. So, it was a huge and the same backpack I took to live in Argentina for six months and packed everything in there and that’s what I needed. But I hiked up this hill and I’m just feeling so grateful and so amazing because of the strength I had and realizing there, “Oh my gosh, if it weren’t for the skills that I was developing in storytelling and copywriting, I wouldn’t have gotten here.” And at the same time, it helped me realize my abilities to serve this market. It’s not the only market I serve.
I work with anybody who’s too smart for their own good. Anybody who has spent so much time studying and honing and perfecting what they do that they create blind spots in their communication with people. Because when we’re hanging out like we’re all experts here, we know software as a service membership side kind of things. And we can have a certain conversation with each other. But we use language that somebody just off the street, we might as well be speaking French. And this is what a lot of people fall into. And this is the same trap that these health and wellness experts fall into.
And so, for the last few years, I’ve been working more and more in that space where my own story differentiates me from marketers and other practitioners turned marketers because I have the client experience running through my veins and so that was how it saved my life. And it’s been one of the most fulfilling and exciting things to work with other health coaches and empower them to reach more people just like me. There’s thousands of people, millions of people in this world that are just suffering from these things they don’t understand. And if I can help them communicate their value just that much better then I think that I can help people just like me.
Eric: Yeah, that’s amazing. I really appreciate you sharing that story. There’s so many beautiful kind of like synchronistic elements to that. Like, how if you didn’t have the issue and experienced it directly and also been doing the marketing, you wouldn’t have been able to make that connection with her and then provide the ultimate solution for her either. So, it was like you were almost like perfectly placed through your pain even to be able to provide that service term.
Kyle: The moral of this story is, before we move forward, just to encourage everybody out there. One of the biggest problems I find that the very smart experts that I work with experienced is they discount their own stories. They don’t value these things. But my story is an example of, you’re exactly right, how my experience outside of my work uniquely positioned me to serve this. And a lot of people out there are thinking, well, what happened to me as a kid or what happened to me outside of the workplace.
People just want to know how to write better ads or get better sales and make their Google Analytics numbers point upwards and that’s true. We want results, we definitely want results. But there’s a human element to this that so many people miss out on. And in a world where there’s so much information out there, good information, bad information and ugly information, you need a human connection. You need to know that, “Wow, this person I can really trust them.” That’s the power of this particular type of story.
Eric: Yeah, information is soulless. You mentioned that one of the biggest challenges is that people discount their story. Is that what you see most of the time? I know for me, early on, it wasn’t necessarily that I discounted my story. I didn’t even necessarily know my story. I was so caught up in the technology, the implementation, the actual data specific aspects of the product and the service that I couldn’t pick my head up with enough perspective to understand the arc and to come up with a story.
Kyle: That is the case with a lot of people. How I described it is as if you’ve got different ideas. We all know our stories and we have the stories, we just don’t know how to use them. We don’t have the frameworks to successfully apply them. Like the arc, what you said, is hinting at a desire for a framework just in the word you chose right there. And so, what happens is when we don’t have tools to sift and determine which story does this person need to hear right now, all of the stories and all of the knowledge and all of the little details, an ideal client walks up to you and it’s like, “Hey, Eric, how can you help me?” And all of these ideas rise like they’re bees in your head all at the same time.
They’re all buzzing at the same time and maybe you want to try and get them out but it’s like a traffic jam. Everybody’s trying to go for the same place. And so, when you actually open your mouth, it’s just like, technical jargon or nonsense or you just get on these tracks, so it sabotages a lot of people.
One of my favorite ways to work with people is to just help them put together these simple frameworks and ways to think about okay, if you understand the purpose of a story and how to use it to achieve that end and when to use it, then all of a sudden, it’s no longer this big traffic jam and you have just the right story to deliver at just the right time.
Eric: Can we just define what a story is from your perspective?
Kyle: What an interesting question. I don’t know if I’ve actually been asked that kind of question before. I’m going to have to do some thinking. What is a story? A story is an ancient technology used to communicate information to each other. For a very long time, stories were our memories. Stories were our form of communication. Stories are older than writing. Writing’s a great thing. Writing change the world when we were able to put our thoughts down but before that, we use stories.
And how stories work is they follow a certain pattern and formula to allow us to draw meaning and to draw a conclusion on something. And so, a story done well leads us down a path and down a framework that guides us to a decision. It’s an experience that enters our mind. And as we are listening or experiencing a story, we experience it as the main protagonist or character or you, if you’re telling your story. And so, it allows us to experience you and share the same thoughts and ideas that you’re communicating.
Eric: And when you kind of bring up the ancientness of stories and oral tradition, I get this vision in my mind of like a group sitting around a fire with one person sharing. And immediately when I visualize that, I reflect on our modern times and see that one of the biggest barriers that a storyteller has these days, back then you had rapt attention. Like you said, listening and experience is an important ingredient of the audience for the storyteller to effectively communicate something.
Now, today, getting people to listen truly is hard because there’s just so many things distracting people. And so, when you want to tell me a story, if I’m not connected to you in some way, you haven’t gotten my attention, you haven’t gotten me to listen yet. And I find with the stories that I hear, the technique that I find is present in a lot of the stories and messages is that there’s an adeptness that they have at getting to connect with me or getting me to feel connected or interested in what they’re about to say.
Kyle: Absolutely. What you are describing is what I call an unforgettable origin story. That is the first thing that we need to know, of course, in this world where our attention is very short. Whether I’m on stage presenting in front of hundreds of people or I’m on a webinar or a Facebook Live or I’m on a podcast recording and somebody is listening to this on their jog and if you are, keep going, stay strong. But they need to decide. They’re making this decision right now. “Why should I listen to Kyle? And why should I trust them?” It’s not an information, promise.
The information that we need to know is three things if I’m going to listen to this person. One, does this person know how I feel, which is what you need to communicate in the beginning of your story. The language that you use describing a time in your life when you were experiencing a problem on their own but just knowing their pain isn’t enough. Because if you get up on stage and you’re like, “Well, I’m struggling with business too. I’m about to go out of business as a matter of fact.” Then people are going to be like, “Well, why did I pay to come to this event and why are they paying you to be on the stage?” So, you’ve got to also show us that you have a secret, that you have the treasure that we have been waiting for, for so long.
And then finally, we also need to know you care. We need to know that this solution is something close to your heart, that there is a mission. There’s a bigger vision beyond you purchasing my whatever I’m going to sell and having a transaction and getting me some profit to make my numbers go up. I need to know that this is a deep calling for you, a mission. And that you are invested in my success on a much bigger level. And those are the three ingredients for an unforgettable origin story that in some cases, you can bring one of those across in a minute. I like to use them. If I have like a 60-minute window to talk, then it’s like a 5 to 10-minute story.
Eric: That’s interesting. Now, what about authenticity? Because if there’s a framework, then there’s a way to manipulate the framework, right? And I know marketers basically are trying to do this. They’re trying to figure out the formula and weave in all the emotional points. And the really successful ones are very adept at a certain type of manipulation of emotion. So, that’s a good story, though. Do you sense that there’s a characteristic difference between that type of story and say, that type of story, the doctor you ended up working with where you mentioned at the end that she cares? But some people get across that they care but ultimately, they don’t really. What is the distinction there?
Kyle: That’s a great thing. And this requires an experienced person listening in carefully. And it’s true. These are powerful, powerful tools, like a lightsaber can be used by a Darth Vader or a Luke Skywalker. It can be good or evil. And so, where I can’t tell you how to discern but I will say that, and this is a conversation I was just having before this call, that there is a tremendous amount of hype people out there that will promise these big things and they know the pain points really, really well.
And so, what you want to look for and I think what you want to communicate in your own work is vulnerability. We need to know, again, there’s a certain aspect of showing us that you’re human, that maybe you don’t have it all together or that you suffered as well. And maybe there’s vulnerability in this opening story or throughout it. But the story will resonate with those who, if you can match it to the language they’re using and communicate your experience through that, you can create this connection and trust.
It reminds me of the Ryan Holiday book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, where it’s like, these are tools out there. Learning what we’re going to learn today will help you defend against these dark arts of marketing, as much as it will help you sell more of your products and services and connect with your customers. And if you’re out there and deciding which side of the coin you want to be on, I hope that you choose authenticity and really showing up to serve and make the world a better place. And that’s who I choose to work with in my practice.
Eric: So, you mentioned like learning the things that we’re going to learn today. So, let’s start diving into that, some of the tactical things that you provide in your book and your other offerings. Where’s the starting point for people that are present today? Maybe there are different levels of experience but probably what combines them all is that they have an offering and they want to increase their ability to effectively promote that to a group of people. How do they think about using stories as a tool for helping them with that?
Kyle: I’ve got three stories that we’re going to go through and explore today. I’ve already hinted at the first one and where we can start, the unforgettable origin story. The next one, after that, we will learn is the success projection story. And finally, we’ll talk about the aligned ending story. So, to create an unforgettable origin story to show us that you know our pain, that you have the secret and that you care about us, the simplest framework and formula that I work with people, many of my private clients and it’s magical when this happens. We call it a three-act play and I love this. I actually wrote a song about this particular style.
In these days, in my own trainings, one of my vulnerability and authenticity things is I’m starting to write rock operas and playing some of the music. It was actually one of your MemberMouse geniuses, Matt, who was telling me about his musician days as a producer. I was like, “I need to call you up because I’m playing stuff on an acoustic guitar and I need you to make it sound cool.”
Eric: And I compose music, actually so we all could do something.
Kyle: Oh, man. Well, I might have to play us out to close up this show. But anyway, we’ll talk about the three-act play first and get you guys the goods.
Act one, this is you experiencing the problem firsthand. What is the problem that you saw? And when is it in a story that you are in the depth of it? And if it’s not you in the depths of it, maybe you see your father experiencing it or a customer experiencing that, but we need to know the depths of the problem. The best is when you’re experiencing it firsthand. So, you’re in this moment, this status quo, and the pain is happening and you’re just kind of describing the dissatisfaction you feel.
And this dissatisfaction is so great that it forces you out of your comfort zone into your act two, which is essentially your rocky montage. So, if we think about the (singing) and Rocky’s like punching bags and he’s running up and downstairs and he sucks in the beginning and then becomes awesome. And then three seconds in a movie of all these different scenes of him training but you see him getting stronger. And there’s actually, speaking of music, there’s a song from the movie, which is an absurd movie, but Team America: World Police called Montage that describes this very, very well.
So, this is you going on a journey going out. So, I went out, I wanted to figure out the solutions. And so, I started studying all of these things and learning all these things. One thing that you want to know that’s very, very important, a lot of people get tempted on their act twos to be like, “So, I opened up a Wayne Dyer book and read a chapter and it was just blowing my mind so much and so I changed my life.” That is not going to make us want to work with you. It will make us want to buy the Wayne Dyer book. You want to make sure that there’s a mix of specificity and vagueness in here that’s interesting to apply.
Eric: You need to be able to play the Rocky music behind it. And you can’t play the Rocky music behind somebody sitting in an armchair reading Wayne Dyer.
Kyle: Yeah, exactly. We just don’t want to have one solution or you want to find one coach. You want to as you’re describing this, you’re out in the world and combining all of these different things to make your own super sweet recipe for success. And so, that’s our act two.
Act three, you discover the secret. You’ve got it. And you’ve used the secret to solve your nasty problem from act one. The struggle and pain has transformed into alignment and empowerment. And all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this thing I’ve used to help me, I can help so many other people. I might be able to help you. Oh, my goodness.” That brings it all together and here is the ultra-ninja trick.
In act one, you describe the qualities, three qualities of what it is like to be in that problem. And then in act three, you take those same three qualities and transform them into where I was once afraid of getting enough cash flow, now I have plenty of money. Where I once couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, now I can barely recognize that sexy beast I see. Whatever transformation you promise, that’s what this looks like.
We’re building trust and then this is the thing I missed out on. You’re showing us the transformation through your story, the results. If you can nail it and describe the problem in your audience’s language in act one and describe exactly what we want in act three, we’re going to pay you for act two.
Eric: Let me try this out and you correct me for what I miss.
Eric: Okay. So, I was hungry and I’m sure you can resonate with this, we all have hunger, and I was desiring something with dough and tomato sauce and cheese. It wasn’t in my life. So, you know what, I was like, I need to find this thing. I walked out the door, it was snowing out. I had to bust out to find this thing that I was looking for and I got to the restaurant, and I ordered it. Oh man, this is already not a good story. But…
Kyle: We’re going to work with it.
Eric: I ordered this thing. And you know what, when it landed on my table and I took the first bite of that pizza, I knew I had solved my hunger. I knew I was no longer going to be hungry again at least for 24 hours and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. I just wanted to take a stab on it. So, let’s work with it.
I love it. This is actually like my favorite kind of thing. This is like where I’m at my very best is listening very carefully to the people I work with and then returning their story to them the way they’ve always wanted to say it.
I woke up after a long afternoon nap and I realized I was super hungry. I looked around my house and I walked into the kitchen. I opened up my refrigerator and I just saw things that I just wasn’t really feeling. I wasn’t really into. I was not motivated by this food and I was hungry, like soon. I don’t have the patience to cook right now. I look at my kitchen counter and it’s all messy from the last meal I made and I just have to clean this up too. I can’t do this. I’ve got to do something.
And so, even though it was snowing outside, I knew I had to get out there. So, I put on my boots, got my dog on a leash and we started walking somewhere. I started looking around at different restaurants. There’s a Thai food restaurant, and I was like, “Man, I’m not really feeling that many vegetables right now and coconut milk, kind of gross.” And then I saw an Italian restaurant. Actually, I didn’t see the Italian restaurant yet. I saw a burger shop and French fries are delicious, no doubt in my mind, but I had eaten them yesterday. And so, I had to keep going and finally, I found this one restaurant.
And I come inside out of the cold. And thank goodness they have a dog area because I’ve brought my dog with me and now, I’m cornered in that story element. And I sat down and they showed me this combination, this perfect combination of bread, sauce, dough and meat. And they said, “Kyle, would you like it to be stuffed crust or regular style?” And I said, “Oh my god, stuffed crust.”
And then this amazing pizza pie appeared before me exactly how I wanted it and I started eating it and that hunger that was driving me crazy finally subsided. And I knew in my mind that next time I would be hungry, that at the very least, I would have a few slices leftover in the fridge when I came back home. That was when I realized how much I love pizza. And it began to inspire me both the deliciousness and the flexibility of the dish to have leftovers for later and the ease of getting out of my dirty house and going to a nice restaurant to enjoy it. That was magical.
Eric: Very nice. So, a lot more movement there. A lot more description of the journey in act two.
Kyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric: Building up of anticipation.
Kyle: And there’s emotional details. There’s little details that we can bring in to allow us to be in that room in that moment with you. Describing it in present tense and like kind of moving around the room, we get to imagine walking in your shoes and what the things were looking like. And when you open your fridge, we see our fridge in our mind. And those are the little details that we work on building in.
Eric: Well, thank you for going through that exercise.
Kyle: Absolutely. Next, we’ve got the success projector story. And this is one of my favorites. This is where the magic happens. So, you give us your three-act play. And by then, you’ve done it well and so we’re ready to listen to you. We’re ready to say, “Okay, what does Eric have to say for us?” This is where a lot of people in their teaching, they can really improve their teaching. Because I think too many people try to teach a lot and try to teach the how to.
Here’s how to set up your Google Analytics. Here’s all of the different codes you need to implement. Here’s 1, 2, 3 steps to do this. And a success projector story allows you to kind of focus your attention on what it is that is really, really important. A good presentation, whether it’s on a podcast, whether we’re on stage or on a webinar, the goal should be to change our beliefs about what’s possible. And here’s how you can do that. You want to start us with, if you’re teaching, here’s how to set up your membership site. We also want to be aware of like, what’s one of the biggest objections that people have? Or what do people need to know?
Well, I want to start up a membership site but I think it’s going to be too technical. And I’m barely navigating WordPress on my own. So, doing this sounds like I’m going to be hung up in code. Okay, so if you’ve got that and you’re teaching, here’s how to set up a membership site. Then we would insert a success projector story. It would sound something like this.
“One of my clients, Matt, came and signed up for a MemberMouse and wanted a membership site. And he said, ‘Eric, I really want to do this, but I just don’t think I have the technical abilities to do this.’ And here’s what I taught him. And I don’t know what you taught him. That’s your job. But in the end, Matt was finally able to get a site up and running and didn’t have any of the technical headaches that he expected with the right guidance.” And so, again, I didn’t say the teaching point but there’s teaching in there and that could be about 10 minutes long. And now, what have we learned in this story?
We’ve learned, “Oh, somebody just like me raised the same objection in the MemberMouse program and they talked to Eric. They said, ‘You would be specific.’ They came on our weekly Zoom coaching call, our weekly group call. They asked me in my Facebook group, they asked me this in my one-on-one call, so I know, okay, we get one-on-one calls. They asked me this question and this guy just solved the same problem that I had, and now I can’t even, like in 30 minutes when he tells me when it’s time to buy, I can’t raise that objection anymore.”
Basically, this is taking the testimonials from the bottom of your sales page, from the end of your presentation and building them into your teaching. So, that by the time you’re actually making your offer, people know what it is you offer, how you help people, how you serve people. They already know about the program. Even if you make this presentation and you can’t sell anything, people are going to understand how you work and how you help with people.
Eric: Also, it activates their listening because I immediately know what you’re about to say is related to who I am, right? Because you say you describe my persona and they’re like, “Oh, that’s me'” and what comes after this is going to be what I want to hear too so I’ll listen. But it’s not like me saying I know you, that could be very aggressive.
Kyle: That’s what people do at the end of their presentations. You can tell me the same story at the end of the presentation and people are like, “I don’t really believe that Matt was that inept at WordPress. I think that this was a little bit fabricated.” “You tell me this during the teaching time, I’m taking notes.” “Whoa, MemberMouse program one-on-one calls, I’m in.”
They’re rehearsing the same point. Again, when you tell a story, I am in the shoes of the protagonist. So, when you’re telling me that story, in my head, I’m imagining what it’s going to be like to work with Eric and all of the cool things. I wonder if I get more than one-on-one call every week.
Eric: There’s going to be pizza.
Kyle: There’s going to be pizza.
Kyle: I wonder what kind of pizza Eric likes. I like pepperoni. So, hopefully we can come to an agreement on that. And with the right success projection stories, all of these things, the biggest objections, checked off. I know all about your program, checked off. And I’m getting great teaching information all of this time. So, it’s just an amazing, powerful, powerful way to transform how you’re teaching.
Eric: Right. And it was just in terms of a technique, right? It was simply like the opening and then the closing and then in between. You said it could be 10, 15 minutes, but it’s basically like you’re teaching as you’re teaching. It may already be what you’re doing but you’re simply adding this opening aspect and the closing aspect.
Kyle: Absolutely. I’ll do an inception version of this because I’m going to do a success projection story within a success projection story, right now. One of my clients, Greg Eckel, one of the leading naturopaths for neurodegenerative disease in the United States, came to me to work with me and my agency to help him with a summit he was putting on. He wanted a keynote speech for this summit that would convince people who were free attendees to come out to Portland to pay five figures to work with him on neurodegenerative disease. But Greg said, “Kyle, people are going to have a hard time coming out to this if they don’t think they have options. If they’re still in the world of their doctors, which they are, of being told they’re just getting worse every day.”
And so, Greg and I had to put together a success projection story that overcame this. And he used this on his keynote presentation. He said, “One of my clients, Bill,” and we changed his name, “came to my clinic after being tired of told he was just getting worse after every doctor visit. But with a few tests, we found that it was heavy metal toxicity in his system, not Parkinson’s, that was causing these similar neurodegenerative symptoms, which means he was treating the wrong problem.” And here’s what we did instead. Bill left my clinic feeling much more empowered and in control of his health and had many new options for treatment. They were no longer able to say, “Okay, well, my doctor just told me that there’s things, there’s options here you didn’t know about.” And now you know.
Eric: That’s great. So, I feel like there’s a very organic way that this conversation could go. However, I feel like that organic approach would take another hour and a half because this is really interesting stuff. So, given the fact that we do have a time constraint, let’s get into the third type of story, the aligned ending story.
Kyle: The aligned ending story, these ones are very, very fun too. So, a story gets us to a moral. And I’m not talking about whatever morality you have. There’s a reason we tell the story, there’s a point to the story. And there’s a lot that goes into making a presentation like this. And once you make your offer, which is a whole another podcast as well about how to frame and talk about what you’re doing. But at the end of your presentation or talk, a lot of people, if you’re in a room, people don’t clap mostly because of the time. They just don’t know that you are finished with your presentation. And the great way to end this is with what I call an aligned ending story.
And these stories, we’ve already just listened to you for 50 plus minutes about whatever you’re an expert in to talk about. And so, we’ve got no more of that, we’re done teaching. I don’t want you to bring me back to teaching world. We’re back in story world and we need some heartfelt stuff to really leave us with the right emotion and leave us with that same satisfaction that we feel when a movie ends. And we’re like, “Ah, it’s all resolved.” Here’s some of the morals that we could leave somebody with. Take action now. Hire an expert. Try something new. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Here is a hire an expert story and how this is so powerful to end. You guys will feel it more than I can teach it because it’s just so great. This is a story that a financial planner I was working with building his presentation told me and it’s one of my favorites. “So, my wife came up to me and she told me, ‘Bob, the dishwasher is broken. You should call a repairman to go fix it up.’ And I thought to myself, ‘I’m a pretty smart guy, I can fix the dishwasher. I’m just going to watch a few YouTube videos and take a stab at it on my own.’
“And so, I open up the dishwasher. I’ve watched my YouTube videos, I’m feeling good. I take this piece down and I’m moving around with these pieces and all of a sudden, snap. Now, I’ve broken it even more. So, I look over at my wife and she’s just nodding at me, ‘Told you.’ I call the repairman. Repairman comes to my house, fixes up the piece that I broke. And I said, “Well, wait. It was broken before this, what was wrong? And he said, ‘Bob, you were just putting too much soap into it.'”
Okay, so you tell us the story, then you just give us the moral and this is how we close it up. There comes a time in many of our lives where we want to do something on our own and try and save a little bit of cash. But it often ends up costing us much more than we bargained for. There comes a time when it’s really important to hire an expert. All of you may be just planning your retirement. You only plan your retirement once in your life. I help people plan their retirements every day, just like that dishwasher repairman. So, I encourage you to hire an expert. Thank you for listening.
Eric: Now, one of the critical things that I wonder how you work with your clients on this if you go and do this in your book, one of the things that makes the demonstrations that you’ve given throughout this conversation successful is your delivery, your pacing. You can tell there’s a confidence that if you don’t believe your own story, you’ll speak faster. Like, for example, when I did my example of the pizza story, it’s not really my story. So, you could tell my delivery was not good. But in all the examples you’ve done, it’s musical. You allow for space which I think is an important ingredient for drawing people in to listen. You are communicating through your spacing that you are worth listening to.
Kyle: Absolutely. It’s come with practice. I’ve listened to this and I’ve done this many, many times. And yeah, it’s challenging for somebody to just pop in to story mode, but tone of my voice changes. Like I have a storytelling voice. And it actually like, when you get good at it, people can recognize the storytelling voice and they’re like, they lean in a little bit.
Kyle: And that’s just why it’s worth hiring an expert. Because here’s where the magic happens is like, I’m on Zoom calls like this and we’re working through our templates and building out these stories. And then people just like you did with the pizza story, kind of like they fumble through it a little bit and they’re getting it clear. And then I get the raw materials I need to process it through the storytelling thing. Usually, we’re on Zoom or if we’re in person, I’m like, “Get out your phone and start recording because I’m not going to repeat this because it’s super hard to do it twice.” So, you hear all the things and then I just say it and they record it and then they can get that key little bit and start practicing it.
You don’t have to have the amazing cadence and brilliance everywhere all the time. But if you have it in just those right key things, this was like a one-minute story but this one-minute story may have disproportionate value compared to the rest of your teaching and your speaking. And so, having it in just the right place and making sure that you get that exact support to make sure that these stories drive your point home in the way you want is the true magic of storytelling. And that’s where the increases in your sales and results come from.
Eric: And I think one thing that’s very critical to recognize about that is, and it’s true of everything, you cannot skip the practice and the experience. So, many people just want to get the magic bullet, not do the work. But like you were saying, part of the experience is working with you, getting the practice, going through the motions, speaking it out, getting it clunky, refining it and people can do this with you or they could do it on their own. But the practice is essential. And I think cadence isn’t something to copy. It’s something to discover. Each person will have their own cadence that speaks to people. It’s not that you need to copy people who are successful because then you’re not doing your authentic cadence.
So, given that we’re at the end and we’re talking about aligned ending stories, we’ve kind of touched on the importance of finding experts. You have a book out. A new book in Amazon, Selling with Story. Now also, just tell us another few places that people can learn more about you if they’re interested in diving deeper into this stuff.
Kyle: I also just published a new article on my site that goes in deep in these particular three stories called The Three Stories That You Need to Double Your Sales on Your Next Presentation. It’s a great article and I think it’s a fun resource to start out with. I highly encourage Selling with Story. If you want to go beyond that, I have several other books available on Amazon as well. I work with tons of people on creating amazing presentations. How it often works is we’ll create the presentation over a month together and then you’ll work with me over the next five months because it does take practice.
You’ll send in recordings of you on a webinar, of you on a podcast and then I can speak into that and continue to guide you over time. Because I’ve too many times built a presentation for somebody and they’ve invested a lot with me and then I send them out into the world and they don’t do anything with it drives me crazy. So, this reminds me of a story from my youth.
I remember, when I was young, and not so into the outdoors as I am today, my dad loved to take me on hikes. There was this one hike in Park City, Utah that he would love to take me on and we would go on it a lot. And I remember, oftentimes, anger stomping up the mountain just to get the hike done as quickly as possible so I could go home and play Zelda. But there was this one time he came up to me and he’s like, “Kyle, let’s wake up and do this hike and watch the sunrise together.” And I was like, “Ooh, that sounds tough.” And I said, “Okay,” but I can remember waking up that morning.
I didn’t quite realize when the sun comes up. I’m seeing my alarm at 4:00 am and I’ve got to go do a hike. And all of my body just wants to slap the alarm, turn it off and just say, “Whatever Dad, you’re on your own,” but something in me, I got up and I went. I went for it. And we went up this hike with our headlamps on in the darkness and sat down and had a good conversation as the sun slowly changed from this tiny sliver of light to this blazing ball of fire that lit up the mountains all around us.
And I’m so grateful for that moment that we had and how those moments have influenced my love of being out in nature and doing what I’m doing now. And so, I’m so glad that I took action then. And I hope all of you listening take action now in sharing your story and getting out there and connecting with the people that you need to connect with. The world needs you and your story and your impact more than ever. And I hope that this podcast interview will help you get there.
Eric: And that ladies and gentlemen is an aligned ending story. Well, thank you so much, Kyle, for sharing this.
Kyle: This has been a ton of fun. This has been a great, great time.
Eric: I appreciate you coming on. I hope everyone enjoyed this and gets a lot out of it and continues developing their skills in telling their stories. So, thanks, Kyle.
Thank you so much for listening to my entire conversation with Kyle.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed it and are excited about putting the power of storytelling to use in your life and business.
Many thanks to Kyle for coming on the show and sharing so freely from his knowledge and experience.
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Books & Blog:
- The Story Engine by Kyle Gray
- Selling With Story by Kyle Gray
- Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
- Three Types Of Stories Need To Double Your Sales Blog Post
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