I stepped onto the stage, throat dry, underarms moist. My adrenalin level rivaled that of a hyperactive 3-year-old hopped up on Lucky Charms. This was the largest gathering I had ever trained on how to amplify success in sales and marketing through The Power of Story.

Over 3,500 entrepreneurs had flown from more than 140 countries, most arriving the night before. They gathered in the ballroom of the Gaylord National Resort in Washington DC for Forever Living Products’ annual International Super Rally. The three day event of awards, company announcements, new product launches, and distributor recognition was kicked off by my training. No pressure.

The Power of Story Part I: “How Stories Sell” from ParkHowell.com on Vimeo.

The storytelling training was presented in two parts. We first explored the nine essential beats that make up the structure of every great story. Do you know them?

  1. Who’s your hero?
  2. What’s at stake?
  3. The inciting incident.
  4. Obstacles & antagonists.
  5. The sidekick and/or love story.
  6. All is lost.
  7. Victory!
  8. Anchor your audience.
  9. To be continued… (Your sequel)

Storytelling workbooks were handed out to what’s essentially the United Nations of network marketing. Forever Living is the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of aloe vera-based health and beauty products; a $2.5 billion operation with millions of Horatio Alger stories. Our job was to help these distributors bring their unique experiences to life… in three minutes or LESS.

Using the workbooks, the audience outlined their stories as the training progressed.  Some of the Forever faithful even found the gumption to come on stage and share their journeys to demonstrate the power of well-told tales. You can view an abridged version of the presentation on SlideShare.

Where you tell your story is as important as how you tell it.

The second part of my Power of Story training explored ways to share your stories with the world using social media. We discussed how your blog becomes mission control for your social media universe, and how six primary online communities work as both utility and outreach channels. I’m using the utility channels of Vimeo (I prefer it over YouTube), SlideShare and Flickr to embed and share video, PowerPoint and photos respectively through this blog.

We then covered how to push or broadcast your blog content out through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can connect with me by clicking on any or all of these links and see how I’ve used them to promote this article. I’ll go into greater detail on the social media portion of storytelling in my next post.

After nearly two hours on stage in front of these engaged and delightful distributors (The presentation was simultaneously translated into 10 languages and was also webcasted), my character arched from a chrysalis of nerves to an unbridled enthusiast for The Power of Story. It was affirming to watch business men and women from every imaginable metroplex and distant outpost on our planet embrace the universal form of narrative that propels our individual stories forward.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on storytelling with this world-class audience, and I hope you found it as rewarding as I did.

Thank you.