I know this story inside out. But it still made me cry

by Joanna Pieters | Follow her on Facebook here

Blinking fast, I’m trying to avoid Rosie noticing, even though she’s one of my best friends. So high up in the darkened theatre, I’m pretending I’m not actually wiping tears away.

I know Hamlet, inside out. I studied it at school and university, I’ve seen it on stage, on screen, and this is even the second time I’ve seen this version, an opera, by the wonderful Australian composer Brett Dean. A stage-full of death and murder is not a surprise.

And yet here I am, an emotional wreck in a squeezed theatre seat.

The music snaps abruptly to a halt, plunging the hall into shocked silence and then huge applause.

Rosie turns to me and mouths, ‘wow’.


Hamlet and YOUR story

‘No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;’ mourns T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, feeling like a bit-part. ‘Am an attendant lord, one that will do / To swell a progress, start a scene or two’.

When you make creative work, your own story has to be part of it. But it’s not always that easy.

It’s easy to feel that your own story isn’t that interesting. It doesn’t have the drama of opera, or the sweep of a Hamlet (This is probably a relief. Family life with a usurping and murderous uncle, a girlfriend with a nightmare father and the ghost of your dead father is probably not on your immediate goals).

It’s easy to feel that people have heard your story enough. Maybe you’ve told that story a hundred times. To everyone who’s ever asked, and those who haven’t. To people who are interested, and those whose eyes start to wander.

But neither of those things are true.

Your story is ESSENTIAL to how you connect with people. Your fans, your clients, your supporters, and those who haven’t found you yet.

It matters HOW you tell your story

We connect with Hamlet not because we’ve been in his exact situation.

We connect with Hamlet not because we’re shocked and overwhelmed by a tale new to us.

We connect instead because the emotions on stage are those we can understand viscerally.

We’ve probably all experienced the pain of being betrayed. We know what it’s like when family and friends behaving like assholes. We’ve experienced love going awry. We’ve probably felt the fear and panic of life being out of control.

And even if we haven’t, as humans we can do an amazingly good job of imagining worst-case scenarios.

When you’re telling your story, that’s what we engage most powerfully with.

We want to hear the events, yes.

But understanding what it felt like is what will pull us in.

Make your story about your experience

If I’d started this story by saying, ‘I was at the theatre and I enjoyed it’, it would have been a very different feel. But by telling you about my emotional journey, you learned so much more about me and my experience.

But, you say, what about being HAPPY? So here’s another example: a tweet from one of my recent Creative Life Show guests, wonderful filmmaker and advocate for women in film, Elena Rossini.

Elena transforms a little bit of information – her first commercial campaign – into something generous and celebratory with just a few words telling you her emotions about it.

A story can be a complete opera, but it can also be a few words bringing what you’re doing right now to life.

When you tell a story, you’ve allowing someone to know you, to like you and to trust you, which are the crucial steps in someone becoming a customer or a fan.

Emotions connect us. And when they connect us, you’ve building fascination. You’re building a relationship that will lead to people wanting to become your fans, your supporters, your clients.

How to bring YOUR experience to life

What story are you telling today? Maybe it’s something new, about a small little detail of your life or work. Maybe you’re retelling something you feel you’ve told a hundred times.

What are you sharing on social media today?

What are you saying today when you meet new people, or old connections?

Go ahead. Tell us how it felt.

You don’t need to be Prince Hamlet… you’re you.

Thrill Your Fans is closing soon…

Thrill Your Fans is open for another few days. If want to make your fans fall in love with you and your creative work (and I talk a lot more about emotions in it), then don’t miss your chance to grab it before it vanishes.

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