#051 – Confidently Speak Your Stories

This ep is for you if you’re looking to connect with your dreamies, but you’re HIDING behind the computer and only writing to express your stories.

We’re gonna talk about confidently speaking your stories.

For the record, I’m a writer. I LOVE writing. I have loyal readers. Still, there’s magic when people hear your voice + see your face and body language that you’re missing out on if you’re ONLY doing the writing & sharing a photo song + dance.

Where might you speak your stories?

1. It’s no surprise that VIDEO is more and more being consumed and all marketing folks are telling us to do more IG or FB Lives or IG Stories, because people are watching. Your dreamies are watching.

2. When we develop a welcome system for potential clients, what you do in MMS, instead of a text-y email, you can add a video or an audio.

3. In real life interactions, I’ve found it to be a zillion times more connective to speak through a STORY than simply saying, “I’m a photographer or documentary family photographer or I photograph families in their home.”

When you’re logical, you speak to their brain & are susceptible to their perception.

When you speak in story, you speak to their heart and their perception is met with more accuracy as you convey your message.

4. In my PPW program, I built that program to be not just a beginner level photography workshop, but a PLATFORM for you to express your story—your approach to photography—so that the people in your room, the people likely your dreamiest dreamies, are hearing + falling in love with your conviction.

It’s working!

Photographers are educating their communities and booking clients through this platform alone!

5. Lastly, say you don’t speak your stories before the inquiry call at all. You lean on social posts, emails, blogs, and word of mouth. To come across confident and sincere on your inquiry calls, you need the MINDSET that comes along only with experience in speaking your stories.

That mindset is one of believing in what you do beyond a shadow of a doubt.

It’s a mental swagger that puts you in the Chef position, not the Order-Taker.

All that to say, no matter where you’re speaking your stories, you’ve gotta SPEAK ‘EM.

Dreama Spence has been working with me for some time and asked me how I prepare for my videos, because I come across so confident…. yet I explain how on IG Live, for example, I find that I ramble and feel like I must sound like a total idiot half the time. In other scenarios, I am completely confident.

So, here’s some practical options for speaking your stories.

Enjoy the story.

DECIDE the kind of speaker you wanna be.

I remember Screech Powers in Saved By the Bell was ridiculously nervous over an assignment to speak in class. All the stereotypes were there: the nerves, the sweat, the forgetting of what to say, etc….

I remember in high school watching that episode and DECIDING, “Nope, I’m not going to react like that.”

I had to deliver a speech on a controversial topic to my class (we all had to pick topics on stem cell research, euthanasia, among others) and I didn’t wanna do it… but knowing I HAD to do it in order to get my grade, I looked at HOW it was going to roll as a decision.

I could either marinate in all the reasons I didn’t wanna do it and allow those fears to come into fruition OR I could decide to feel differently.

I remember thinking about how I really didn’t care what people thought, because they were my classmates. They weren’t my closest friends or family. So, their opinion didn’t matter to me. They also probably couldn’t care less about their classmates presentations or the topics at hand, because they were like me, only doing the work because they had to. They’re mind was on graduating and life after high school.

It’s like so much of today’s personal development teachings: you get to decide how you feel.

Even if you have fear and you’re worried about whatever, you have the choice to be a martyr to it or the choice to acknowledge it and work through it.

Lower the freakin’ bar.

This comes in two parts.

First, let go of the outcome.

In my direct sales business (and how I think some people feel about their workshops), I had it in my head that I wanted to blow their minds. I wanted a specific outcome: ROI

I wanted bookings, consultants, and sales….

I wanted new photography clients or students for continued mentoring…

So often, I’d go through the demo in direct sales and was met with silence. At some parties people were into it, other times, it was like they were only there to show up for their friend… they really couldn’t care less about what I was saying.

I learned two things quickly:

  1. When they didn’t care what I was saying, it was never a reflection of me. They weren’t my right people.
  2. The only way to protect myself from the heartbreak of no bookings, no consultant interest, no orders or in photography workshops, no bookings or new students, was to let go of the outcome when I was speaking.

Meaning, you have to speak + express your stories for YOU. For the sake of letting out what you have to say. THAT should be your outcome.

And the other place to lower the freakin’ bar in how you speak:

Remove the emotion

of “omgosh, I said “um”” or “I lost my train of thought” or “I got tongue-twisted here” or being mortified when your kid walks in the room.

Those things are gonna happen.

It’s so easy when you’re speaking + sharing to catch those things going on and then allow it to take your power. Your power is in your decision to ignore it and continue on with what you’ve got to say.

Think of an Olympic gymnast who goes down in their routine. They get back up & continue on and just as much as they’ve practice their actual routine, they’ve practiced the ability to LET GO of the mistake and continue on with a mindset like that didn’t just happen.

You can playback what happened later and learn from it, but in the moment, just go on. Make light of it if you want to, but remove the emotion around showing up perfectly.

PRACTICE what you wanna say.

I know!

Thank you, Captain Obvious…. but this is overlooked.

Maybe you expect to be fantastic right out of the gate or tell yourself a story of how you wanna be more authentic and on the fly… not all planned out and prepped. Hear me out…

When I was in direct sales, we had to do a 40 minute presentation at our parties. Always in front of mostly strangers. And, I obviously wanted my business to succeed, so I wanted people to book a party, order product, or become a consultant like me, so I wanted to NAIL this demo.

I had my upline’s demo outline and it was my bible. I didn’t wanna stray from it.

I’d walk around my house speaking the demo to myself until it was a part of me.

It’s like learning manual mode.

Remember making pictures and when you’d have to think through the ISO, aperture and shutter speed? Then, eventually (and it will if you’re not there yet), it becomes so second nature that you literally don’t have to think about it?

There’s no preparing, you just DO when you see a moment you wanna shoot?

My demo became exactly like that.

I stopped needing to prepare before a party. I stopped having to THINK about what I was gonna say.

I just DID it.

So, the same goes with the stories you wanna share.

If you’re not completely confident in expressing yourself and yet you wanna come across like your stories just flow out of you effortlessly, you’ve gotta practice what you wanna say to begin with to get to that point.

Acknowledge + collect the stories.

WHAT to say tends to be an issue for a lot of people. You wanna speak from a place of inspiration and some days you’ve GOT IT and some days you just DON’T have anything to say. Here’s what to do:

Build a library of stories.

The stuff that’s tried + true that you repeat over and over, because they WORK.

I promise you, when you find a story you’re inspired + delightfully energized to share, that same story will be just as delightfully energizing to share again 4 months from now. No one says you can only share a story once and then you’re done.

But you DO need to pause long enough to pay attention to your stories.

(which hello, that’s what I help people do for a living)

So, those are 4 ways to more confidently share your stories.

Reflection Questions:

  • What’s holding me back from sharing my stories?
  • What can I do to boost my own story cues and build up my story library?
  • How can I implement ONE of these lessons above?

Before you go:

There’s a brand new community on the horizon: The Intentional Documentary Community.

You may have seen, after 5 years and over 7k members, I recently closed the Goodbye, Posing Guide group on Facebook. If you weren’t a part of that or missed the beginning back in 2014 and 15 or so, it was a lovely place to be.

Eventually, the community became something that felt like a weight and a place I had to be cautious in rather than the safe space where we could photograph freely & feel nothing short of delight to be a part of…

that was less about the documentary badge and more about WHAT was documented. It was that simple.

And I know I’m not alone in that.

After closing my group, I’ve received DOZENS of messages, emails, and texts that have affirmed this new direction.

The Intentional Documentary Community is being built with more intention, so that we put what matters first FIRST and protect that mission. It’ll go live in the fall and this is your invitation to hear about it first. Click here to join the waitlist.


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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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