I met Rachael Ray today.
Aside from thinking she was clever and witty and unbearably cute, just as anyone who’s ever seen her will, one thing virtually struck my forehead like the rolled up newspaper we trained the new puppy with. The way she communicates is adorable because it feels like truth. From the modern vernacular she uses to the enthusiastic pacing and tonality of her words, she’s telling us a story every time she speaks. In fact, when asked how she makes her show segments so engaging since she openly professes NOT to be a chef, she replied, “It’s never about the food…it’s always about the story.”
This really got me thinking. So many of the great speakers, personalities and influencers excel at communicating not because it’s about what THEY know; they excel at communicating because they effectively relate it to what WE know.
Weaving a good story involves using a frame of reference that your audience can engage with, laugh about or have a good cry over. The phrase ‘Don’t speak at me, speak with me’ couldn’t ring more true. A masterful story comes from a place of open and vulnerable sharing – the storyteller often gifted with a style that takes the listener by hand while traipsing through the experience together. The story, having a definitive beginning, middle and end, captures interest so effortlessly that one forgets they’re listening to a speaker, but feels instead as if gabbing with girlfriends.
What makes a bad story?
- Listing facts
- Reading bullet points
- Using technical jargon
- Avoidance of flow
- Lack of an ending point
A good story will leave you with a new knowledge or a lesson learned. A great story encourages the listener to do 3 very basic but important things with the message – Relate. Remember. Retain.
Ultimately, whether because of the story itself or the emotion left lingering on the listener, an effective communicator makes their experience become yours too.
So just after signing my name, then hers, in the new release “Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook” book, Rachael Ray took my hand and we posed for the camera together. Suddenly my own quick wit overcame me and I made the most daring, but applicable and totally funny remark (something I won’t repeat but can tell you came as a direct response to a string of commentary Rachael herself had started at the live interview with Philadelphia Magazine’s Publisher, Marian Conicella, only moments before the book signing). In that brief flash of time between her look of surprise and the subsequent burst of genuine laughter, it was clear that she knew I’d been listening very closely.
On this day, Rachael Ray and I had a moment. And now it’s my story.
Other Engaging Links:
- Rachel Ray’s Yum-O! project for children
- Everyday Magazine
- Virtua Women’s Health Symposium