How Grandma can help you story sell like a boss

by Gigi Barnett

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My maternal grandmother was a Pentecostal pastor. On any given Sunday, her stories — plucked from the 66 books in the Bible — could ignite a fire in your heart by fanning the flames of fear or weave a tale that would bring overwhelming peace to your soul.

She was a powerhouse. I would sit in the back of her church in Florida, with several ceiling fans whizzing overhead, reading a book for much of the service (the practice didn’t go unnoticed or unpunished); until she stepped to the podium, pull out her bible and begin speaking.

I was captivated. She spoke of Noah riding the waves in an ark filled with two of every animal; Daniel trapped overnight in a lions’ den; and, Peter and Paul healing the sick with simple prayers. And, sometimes my grandmother would insert stories about her childhood, her marriage and her children into her sermons.

The language in her King James edition bible was long outdated and difficult to understand. But, my grandmother smoothly translated those words into modern lessons that made a big impact on me and everyone else.

How? She nixed the jargon and used everyday words that her congregation understood. It effectively helped us to see ourselves in the pages of a book written centuries ago.

“But, my brand isn’t as easy as Sunday morning,” you say. “I need to use a lot of tech talk.”

I hear you. But, when you get rid of the business buzz words and bring a conversational tone to your brand, potential clients understand your message; and, that’s when they can see themselves working with you.

You must pass what I call the “grandma test.” It’s a simple way to make sure what you say and write are clear and casual. If grandma can understand it, you pass with flying colors.

Here are some easy ways to let go of the lingo:

  • Cancel the concern – Our conversations become take on a casual tone the more relaxed we are. Experts say most people rely on safe words or phrases when they feel anxious or fearful about a situation. “I don’t want to scare or offend anyone; so, I’ll stick to these safe words,” our brain says. But by overriding fear, we can let the laid-back conversation flow.
  • Create the conversation – Imagine you’re talking with one of your favorite family members who knows about your business, but doesn’t understand the exact details of it all. Now, take out a voice recorder (most smartphones have one) and have a pretend conversation with them. Go back and listen. Anytime you hear the jargon seep out, mentally replace the word with something more conversational.
  • Ask around – In the same vein, some of our closest family members and friends may be the best gauge to figure out how much jargon we use. Body language doesn’t lie. Do their eyes glaze over when you start talking about your brand or business? Do they begin glancing at smartphones when you describe your latest marketing campaign? Do they fail to ask follow up questions describing your latest tweet? If you answer yes. Then, there’s your answer.

We can’t all be a story-savvy preacher, who inspires ordinary people to do miraculous things. But if we make sure our words connect with potential clients, we can come close.

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