top of page
  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E67. The One Thing You Must Know About Storytelling with Marsha Shandur

Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.

Francisco Mahfuz 0:00

Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.

Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories that we got to tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Marsha Shandor. Marsha is a storytelling communication and speaker coach who has taught hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs and professionals across the world. She is the host organising and storytelling coach for true stories Toronto, the city's largest storytelling show, but I must admit that none of that is why I invited Marsha on the show. The truth is kind of embarrassing. I think I have a storytelling crush on her. I heard her on another podcast, I immediately took down pages and pages of notes read most of her blog in one sitting and sent her a message that said Kendall Nugen. Yeah, dealu which is Russian like her, and means who needs you? I do. Good stuff. In your voice. Ladies and gentlemen, Marsha. Marsha, welcome to the show.

Marsha Shandur 2:01

Hi, thanks for having me on. What an intro that was great. Nobody has ever spoken.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:06

I think I think it might be generous to call that Russian. But there are many things that, you know, drove me to that to that type of action. You know, there's a lot of stuff you were saying on this was really Samoas insideout podcast that that I really loved. But they're just some things that you kept hitting, and I'm like, nah, this is just sounding too coincidental. So one of the things you said was he I think he mentioned something about being obsessed or really liking Dirty Dancing. I think the same day I had just done like a Dirty Dancing seemed video and put it out on LinkedIn. You had you said something like having people find me funny is my absolute favourite thing. And I realised that that is very true as well of me because it's great. And people think you're a good guy. You know, you're nice. You kind like if they don't say funny, it's just like, it's not I mean, I'm trying really hard here like, fighting for night, the first.

Marsha Shandur 3:09

The first time I did the strengths finders test, the Marcus Buckingham one. I was like, I can't wait to get my results. Number one is going to be what they call Wu, which is Winning Others Over. It's basically like the charm. I was like, that's gonna be my number one. Foreign was input, which means I like to research I was like, Are you kidding? But I think it's mainly because I'm not as funny as I would like to be in. That's why it's so important to me that for people to find me funny, because it's, you know, it's kind of it's like, we're often insecure about the things that are actually a little bit true.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:44

Yeah, I am going through this strange period in my life where I've been doing public speaking for many years, and when I'm speaking public, I tend to be reasonably funny. And then I get into social media properly last year, and and somehow I seem to write very funny comments on LinkedIn, but it's not translating to my normal relations with people. So you know, my wife is not finding me hilarious. And my friends, like occasionally the topic will come up and like I'll you know, who's the funniest person, you know, and um, they're just like, hanging out with, you know, someone, but that doesn't have to be translated. But none of that was was the thing that really struck me. And this is going to take a little bit of a detour, but I think you'll be you'll be you'll be up for it. says a few years ago, and I am having a managing sales team, and I'm having Christmas dinner with the guys. And we're drinking. Everybody's having a laugh and one guy's really quiet. Chris and I say, Chris, mate, you're right. You seem pretty quiet. And he says, Yeah. Something strange happened today at the very last client meeting I had and everybody kind of starts talking. You're like what happened? And he says, I saw the client stalking him. We were getting on fine. But as his stalking, I just wanted to punch him, like, punch him right in the face. And we all look solid or sharp. And he said, No, I didn't do it. And I just I just really wanted to I mean, Has that ever happened to any of you? And then you could hear a pin drop in the restaurant. We all sort of look at each other. And then just about at the same time everybody goes, Yep, yeah, definitely happened. So I put out this video on on LinkedIn. And the the sort of the message I got out of that video is no, listen, I don't it doesn't matter how weird. You think you're what you're saying is what what you're going through is, you need to remember the four most important words in the English language. You are not alone. And that is something I heard you talk about in a different podcast. I think this wasn't really I think this was this was what's her name now. Jenin Marie. Oh, yeah. Yeah, there you go. Yes. So there you go. So that was the combination of those things. I think what I thought, Okay, well, I think I think Marsha and I will get on just fine.

Marsha Shandur 6:12

And I love that too. Because I've done as you say, there's a gajillion podcasts on, on, you know, whatever your podcast app is. But those are two of the most fun. And those are two podcasts where I ended up talking about stuff that I've never talked about on any other podcast. So you picked a good one.

Francisco Mahfuz 6:27

Yeah, I this is the challenge. I think of any of anyone who does a lot of podcasts. And this is something where I, I give very conflicting advice to people based on what I am as a podcaster. Not I am as a as a as a story, Coach, you know, because there's a story coach, I say to people all the time, like you need to have your story down, you need to, you know, the when they asked if they do ask, which I never asked, you know, how come you're doing this job now, like that should be like, you should know what that story is, you should be able to reel it out in a minute or two minutes or whatever, however long you think you have to, and actually be the same every time and you shouldn't hit the same beats. Often in those interviews. Otherwise, people are not going to take away real value out of it. But as a host, I hate when I show like I can see it's the same answer every time. Like I don't want this one. So it's there's always a bit of a challenge. So you know, I'm thinking to myself, Okay, so if I asked Marsha, this is a good chance, she's gonna tell me how, how she used to go on for too long with her friends when she told stories. And that's how she learned to edit and edit them down. So how do I ask a different question?

Marsha Shandur 7:35

But then I think the good thing is, if you have a good, how did you get into the story, you know, even with mine, because it's really hard to catch yourself. For years, I didn't have a good story. And I would say the same stuff that my clients say to me where I'd say, oh, it's, it's too long, and it's not interesting. And I'm always like that, you don't tell the whole thing, and you just find the interesting parts. And then I was speaking to a friend of mine, Liz Sculley who's brilliant genius. And I was and I was kind of complaining about this to her. And I mentioned one thing, which meant that that's your story. And so the way so what I say now is if I have a bit of breathing room, I say I was the one, you know, going on for too long with my friends. And then I say, and then I got a job in music radio. And suddenly, I had to cut my stories from 20 minutes down to 20 seconds, because after 20 seconds, the jingle kicks in. So you have to stop talking because someone else is. And then again, if I have a bit more breathing room, I might say and that's where I learned how to both how to edit down my stories, but also had to get the most bang for my buck within those 20 seconds. So even the long version of that took like maybe 40 seconds, like didn't take a minute. And most importantly, it had some sensory detail in there. So you had the like oral, you know, you imagine that jingle kicking in, and you know, being on radio, it's kind of a sexy job. So there's like a bit of a sexy thing that there's so much else to how I ended up doing this. I'm like, Well, I moved to Canada and I didn't have a job and I decided to change career. And at first I thought I'd do this. And then I thought I'd do that and like blah, blah, blah, who cares? You know, and then I started my business and I wasn't even teaching storytelling, I was teaching this other thing. And then I decided and then I worked with this person this was it's so boring, who cares? But I don't tell any of those things. Because most of the time when someone's saying, what do you do? Or how did you get into this? They don't really care. They just don't have a better question to ask, you know, or it's or they're on a podcast and they feel it's their due diligence to ask that question because you think your listeners want to know and so I feel like it's our responsibility as humans, whether you are being interviewed on podcasts or whether you're just meeting other humans, which I know it has not happened a lot the last year and a half. But as people boy the me knocking knock it I used to touch word when I lived in England and now I live in Canada we knock knock on wood or I had anyway as as as the pandemic restrictions start to lift we're gonna see people again and so you need to have a good answer for the question. What do you do but you So I actually have a whole class I teach on this, oh, which I can link to, I'm going to make you a secret webpage. So I'll link to it in the secret webpage because you can still get that. And one of the things I say in that class is like, no one cares, just have something. And also, nobody's saying, like, what do you do that pays your rent, because so many people do a job that they don't really care about, but they have this passion that they love. And like, people just want to have a good conversation with your, you know, Russian, from personal experience, your Russian immigrant grandmother wants to know what you do for money, but your hobby loves you. So,

Francisco Mahfuz 10:30

yeah, I'm having a meeting with a group of entrepreneurs tomorrow. And I was when I was asked to do is, you know, kind of give them sort of like an elevator pitch type of stuff. And I and I've got something on that which are called elevator stories. And the very first one I say is, you kind of want to tell them what you do without telling them what to do. So in this works, as well, in social media, so my headline on social media is become more interesting than Netflix. So they kind of get it, but they're not, there's not 100 was like, you know, there's the rest of it explains, you know, I have blah, blah, blah, with blah, blah, blah. But the beginning is, is just like you just want to, you just want to entice, just get them curious, and just start the conversation. Because if you just get the job title, it's done. Right? It's, you know, right. But also

Marsha Shandur 11:17

that's the thing is that's not the question. The question isn't what is your job title? The question is, what do you do? It's a verb. So should answer with a verb, you should say I help, you know, demographic, you have pain point gets a solution. Yes, totally. And also the other thing when I teach, so I still occasionally run workshops on networking. And the other thing I say, is, is like, one of the things I say is put your hand up, if you feel like, oh, I have a really hard time talking about myself in a way that makes me seem impressive. And you know, half the room puts their hand up. And I say, Okay, here's what you do, stop trying to do it. And I always give the analogy that I say, if we were speed dating, so you were speed dating. So you were single, and you're looking for a long term sweetheart, and you sit down opposite me and you know, let's say for the sake of the illustration that I am, you're physically like, perfect woman, I start talking like, gosh, even has an English accent. And, you know, you look at my name badge, and you say, so Marsha, tell me a bit about yourself. And I say, Well, I'm going to make a great one. I'm going to be an excellent mother to our kids. Like, I can't think I'm going to make our living room really amazing the way we arrange. Should we give a yellow couch with a blue one, you would be like, I think I have a bed. Because you haven't had a conversation with me yet. You don't know, if you want to marry me. And it's the same with networking, like, they haven't spoken to you. They don't know if they want to invest in your startup or hire you like, have a conversation with them first. And then you can do all of that stuff in the follow up or you can get to that conversation. But you know, we've all been to those networking events where somebody just pitches you in your first conversation. And it's like, it just feels nice. And so yeah, I love you say Tell them what you do without telling them what you do. My tagline is similar. It's be unforgettable, which I like a lot of different ways that you can murder someone.

Francisco Mahfuz 13:04

Yes, maybe that's maybe we can approach that on another podcast. Right. So there's one one of the things that that you do that I think is completely unique to you is I'm not coming across anyone that talks about storytelling that uses that specific analogy is the so I think the two the two lessons of your five blog, five blog series on storytelling, the most important thing so the first one is when you tell a story making a movie inside your audience's head. And most of that movie should be action scenes. Now I hate repeating stuff that is pretty much every other podcast you do. But can you just explain to people? What What do you mean by that? And what are the three types of of movie things that they could be doing? Yes,

Marsha Shandur 13:49

so I'm so happy to repeat this because I feel like people need to hear it a gajillion times to make sure they in turn because it's the most important thing, like so I do a lot of coaching people on keynotes, and, and I myself run a lot of workshops for organisations. And one of the things I've been talking about a lot recently is that in any Keynote or workshop, you hope that the audience is going to walk out of there and do every single one of your five steps or whatever, but most of the time they're not. So you always want to ask yourself, what is the key idea? You know, I always ask my clients if I were to say to you, so sorry, I know you thought that your keynote was in three months and you have 45 minutes actually, it's right now and you have 30 seconds ago. And this is the thing that you've just asked me is like my thing for storytelling. If I only had 20 seconds with someone, what I would say is what you said and I should credit my storytelling teacher, Sage turtle gave me the sentence and then I kind of built everything as soon as she said that it made sense. Everything else that I teach. So she told me when you're telling a story or making a movie inside your listeners brain or readers brain and so so if you think about movies, there are three different kinds of scenes you have voiceover which is disembodied voice from the future giving context of Philosophy if you think about Martin Morgan Freeman at the beginning of Shawshank saying there must be a con like me and every prison in America who's like describing who he is and what's just happened. Then there's montage and montage, little flashbulbs of kind of little scenes cut together with music or real time scenes cut together with music so so dirty dancing, learning the steps or whether to not see like the hungry eyes learning the steps montage, or the rocky training montage. And then action scenes are where everything is happening in real time, sometimes slow mo, but usually real time. And it's all happening from the perspective of one or a couple of characters. And an example of an action scene is pretty much every scene in every movie. Because if you had a whole movie that was voiceover, that's an audio book. Basically, if you had a whole movie, that was montage, that's like a super long music video. It's not a good movie. And so most movies are mostly made up of action scenes. And then they use the voiceover and the montage to get from one set of scenes to the next. And so it's the same in storytelling. And the difference between those three kind of scenes has to do with how much granular detail you get into. So voiceover disembodied voice from the future given context or philosophy. When I was 18, I went travelling around Europe, we drank red wine in Paris, we looked at the street art in Berlin, we walked the canals of Amsterdam. I felt it was oh, sorry, that was too much. Sometimes like this is the problem with doing this. Yeah, I was like, that's a montage. Okay, wait, pause voiceovers. Like when I was 18. We're travelling around Europe. I went to nine different countries, I felt it was important to us, because I just there's a globe.

Francisco Mahfuz 16:31

I believe, I believe I believe the exact example is ffice ovaries, I travelled across Europe for a month.

Marsha Shandur 16:39

Yeah, I travelled to Europe for a month. But also, I felt it was important to expand my horizons and meet people from different cultures. So you know, my opinion on what I did, but you don't actually know what that trip was like. And then the montage is that like, I drink red wine in Paris, I looked at the street art in Berlin. You know, we went partying in Greece on the coast. So you know more about what I did, but you don't know what it was like. But then action scene is getting super granular and saying, I'm standing on the subway in Paris, when this woman gets up and starts walking towards me and I panic, my stomach goes into a tight knot, because I think I don't speak French. What am I gonna say to her? And then in perfect English, she says, I'm terribly sorry, you've dropped your 200. Frank note. And whenever I say that in North America, I'm like, most people, like I feel like any European will be like, Oh, that's how old you are. They still have francs in France when you empty. But I can't bring myself to live. Yeah. Anyway, and so the different so the last one is where all the magic happens. And those are the action scenes and most of your stories should be action scenes.

Francisco Mahfuz 17:38

Yeah, I think the closest to that that I've come across. And it's something I talk about, and a lot of people talk about story talk about is we tend to describe the action scene as the moment. So that's, that's, that's a term that comes across all the time. I hadn't seen anyone find an actual term in, in this case, a perfect analogy for the two other types of things described there. And so I think a line from you is, the voiceover gives you facts. An action scene gives you pictures and feelings. And there is this thing I've seen you repeat a tonne of times that I really like. And I think that is probably your philosophy boiled down to even shorter sentences. What did it look like? And how did you feel?

Marsha Shandur 18:21

Yes. And I feel like if, and we should say, and I'm sure you talk about this all the time, Francisco. But there's such a myth that you're either born a storyteller or you're not, you know, and it's not, it's just a set of rules that anyone can follow. I've been doing this for nearly nine years I have never had and I run a storytelling show, which has like a two year waiting list. I've never turned away a single person. Sometimes people will bring a story to me. And I'll say I don't think this is the right story either because they don't yet have emotional distance from it. And your audience has to feel safe. And if you're freaking out and stage they won't. Or because it's somebody else's story. It's like, oh, this is my mom's story. But I wasn't actually there. And I feel like it's people can tell their stories. But it's always more compelling when it's your story, because then we really believe it. And we can see ourselves in the story much more easily when it's your story. But no, I've never, I've never said to someone I'm sorry, I'm not a storyteller. Everybody can do this if they want to all you need is the will. And it's a set of rules. And essentially, if you're telling a story, if you just keep asking yourself those two questions over and over again, you can't go wrong. What did it look like? Or anything else sensory sound like failed? Like, you know, physically feel like smell like, and how did you feel? What did it look like? How did you feel? Just keep asking what happened? And then what happened? And then what happened? And how do you feel what happened? And then what happened? And how did you feel?

Francisco Mahfuz 19:32

I think what did it look like is a much better term to lead with? Because if you go with what did it smell like? What brings me to this, but if those are super boring books describing what mediaeval Europe used to look like, and they describe how it smelled, and it's like three pages, it's like i There's only so much rotting stuff that I didn't read about.

Marsha Shandur 19:56

What do you say that but my show is called true stories told Live and me In my volunteer team have been talking for years about how we need to have a theme show called stories told live because everybody has one. Everybody has one. I'm really

Francisco Mahfuz 20:09

glad I'm not the one who brought this up. I completely agree. I just didn't want to be the one that brought it up.

Marsha Shandur 20:19

But I love that anyone who's listening now is being like, what's my.

Francisco Mahfuz 20:24

So there's another, there's, there's a couple of other things that I want to never pick on that part of what you teach. And one of them, which I think is really interesting is, again, a lot of people do this, but I don't know if I've seen anyone talk about it as clearly, which is that the best way to talk about how you feel is not talking about how you feel is describing the physical sensations of how you felt?

Marsha Shandur 20:48

Well, I would say there's three ways to talk about how you feel, because I think each of them has their place. So one is internal monologue, which is what what am I thinking? And that's often like those of us who I don't know, you know, I don't know as much, maybe, I'm sure not for Brazilians, and probably not for Spanish, but certainly for the British and the colonial North Americans. We don't really like talking about our feelings so much. And so internal monologue is like an easy way to do it. If you tell us what were you thinking? And that can be helpful. And actually, one one way that it's really helpful is it is you can use it for plot dumping. Sometimes you can use it for exposition, because if you say, and I, if you say I think oh my gosh, I can't believe I wore the red shoes, she hates red shoes, what was I thinking, then we know that you're anxious, so we get the emotion. But also we know something's gonna go down with the shoes. And so there's internal monologue, there's just naming the emotion, I was happy or sad or scared, I was angry, I was excited. And then yeah, the physical sensations, I think, is the most powerful one. But you can't use it every time. If you were to tell a story when you said, you know, I walked in the room, my stomach was not I sat down, I had felt like it's too much. But it's really, really powerful. Most of our emotions do have a physical counterpart. And sometimes again, those of us who are British or colonial North American are just uptight, or just uptight, often kind of detach our heads from our bodies, but you know, and sometimes need to do the work to re attach them. But generally, whenever you have a physical sensation, like whenever you have an emotion, there's a physical count, if you think about your stomach going into a knot when you're nervous, like that's the easiest one. And the reason that's so powerful is partly because I think it's I was thinking storytelling, like whenever you can make your audience feel smart, do that. And so one of the ways to make them feel smart is to describe your physical sensation, and just have them know what you mean. So if you say, sitting in the meeting, my stomach's in a tight knot, it's like you trust them to know that that means that you're nervous. Without you having to be like that meant that I was no you know, when you're watching TV shows, and they spell everything out, and it's kind of annoying. So, so I think for that reason, but also because of our mirror neurons that are mirror neurons are the parts of us that we use to socialise and empathise. And when I'm in a workshop, I always say, you know, if I were to tell you about an exercise I did this morning for my neck where I pushed my lifted my chin and then stuck my tongue into the back of my top set of teeth. And then I was paused and says, Anyone doing that right now? And half the room puts their hands up, and I say, like, I didn't tell you to do it. I told you, I did it, but your mirror neurons made you do it. And so if you say I always think I always think this, I've always thought this and then I discovered that the brain science backs me up, that when you're telling a story, what you're trying to do is trying to elicit a freaky Friday style body swap between the person listening to the story and you in that moment. And then when I started to look into the brain science, that's what's happening, our brains actually think the story is happening to us. So when you can get someone in your body in that moment, it's so powerful. When you can say I walked into my summit was in a tight knot and all of our summits go into a tight knot. We are right with you in that moment. And it's incredibly powerful. And it's my favourite thing. My favourite favourite thing to do and I have like an exercise that I take people through and

Francisco Mahfuz 24:12

you I think you do know who Ricky Gervais is.

Marsha Shandur 24:16

I do I used to but briefly, yeah, my first radio station was his first job. He was there and we kind of crossed over. He left like three weeks after I started but I met him just once Anyway,

Francisco Mahfuz 24:26

do you know who Sam Harris's Sam Harris?

Marsha Shandur 24:30

Nurses? Yeah, so

Francisco Mahfuz 24:32

Sam Harris is a is a boy. He's a intellectual that has a massively popular podcast. He hasn't some controversial opinions about many things, but he is really good friends with Ricky Gervais and they just put out a podcast called absolutely mental where it's dead. The concept is that you know Ricky's calling Sam asking important questions about life and they're just you know, shooting the shit about the world. It's actually a paid podcast, which is a rare thing, but you know, for 1414 bucks I thought it was worth it. And then they did a whole episode on. Why do we cry at stories? And this was the first time I ever felt smarter than Sam Harris or Ricky Gervais because they they didn't talk about the signs they clearly didn't know about what's going on about all these things that are kind of relevant and I'm going yes, the brain you know, our brains mirror the storytellers brain if they do it well. And that's why we feel what they feel that that's all there is to it. Really. All this other stuff is like, ah, because your defences are down when you watch this, like now.

Marsha Shandur 25:36

It pulls back and be like, Guys, listen to this. This is Zach.

Francisco Mahfuz 25:42

Father, yes. Yeah, or URI Hasson. Watch this TED talk. I mean, you find out that it's, you're, you're completely off. I mean, there's an episode

Marsha Shandur 25:53

when you get smarter than smart people, especially famous smart people.

Francisco Mahfuz 25:57

Yep. Yeah. There was that. And something else, which happened to me, just last week, I was I was talking to someone and now Now you're gonna hate me. Because I recently launched something and try not to hate me. But it's, it's, it's called a story powers bootcamp. And I have seen your opinions on that. Although it's not that deeply. What's my do I have opinions? Describe how what you do is not a storytelling bootcamp where you're gonna try and frame vivo in a vertical thing.

Marsha Shandur 26:30

I have no problem with people doing it. Yeah. That's, that's the way that I work with people is not that but. But there are ways. Yeah,

Francisco Mahfuz 26:39

yeah, I find that is not a question I wanted to ask. But I'll go there anyway. So I find it really interesting balance to strike, because most of the people that I work with are more corporate, then, you know, they're not going up on stage to tell a story. A lot of them are just trying to find ways to use it sort of tactically, which is a very cold war, in their business or, or in meetings and things of that nature. And although I don't actually ever think about structure, when I'm writing a story to me as if anything is a diagnostic diagnostics to where I'm going to go, Look, something's off, and I go, Oh, yeah, no, I know what I've done there. And then I'll remember, okay, well, this, I messed up with the structure. But I find that a lot of people need some type of structure. And if you don't give it to them, they're kind of like, ah, what goes where? And I'm like, Okay, fine. This is kind of it. But don't try to stick to it.

Marsha Shandur 27:29

i No, I absolutely think that there is a structure. And I think and I'm thinking because I'm like, where does it end, I think it might just be on my sales page, because I'm like, Hey, I'm not going to give you an identikit thing. We're going to tailor it just here. But actually, it is a it is a structure like I have literally, I have you know what I'm going to stick this on the secret webpage, I have a I have a template for keynote, I have basically a structure for keynote. And the thing that I always say, and this is very important, cuz I'm going to stick this up on the secret webpage. So if you're listening, and you're gonna, and you're going to download it, it's going to be yes, forward slash story powers, but Francisco will share this with you. But what I say that's very, that's like what I wanted, what I don't say on the PDF, but I want to say to you that's very important is that this is not the only way to have a keynote, this is not the only structure you can have. It's just something to start with. It's like I also teach people I've ended up coaching people on sales pages, because the the process that I take them through to remember where they feel their emotions in the body, I take them, we basically think of a time when they can relate to the pain point of their clients. So this could be you know, if you if you're writing a sales pitch, or even I do this for organisations, so they can relate to their customers. And then I get them to imagine being in that place, and what does it smell like? And what does it physically feel like? And what emotions they feel and where are they in their body? And then I say, What do you think. And that's where we get the copy for their sales page, because that's where you get the internal monologue of their clients when they're freaking out about the problem that they need to solve. And similarly, for that I have a sales page template that I give them to work from. And I always say this is absolutely not the only way to write a sales page. My sales pages aren't written to this template. But when you're looking at a blank screen, it's important to just have something where you can fill in the blanks. And so that's what I do for the keynote. And I think absolutely, you can have that for stories like, because when you don't really know about stories, it feels scary. It's like if you said to me, okay, figure out this math equation, I'd be like, oh, there are but if you gave me some things to fill in the blanks and x's and y's, I'd be like, Okay, we're on this.

Francisco Mahfuz 29:29

I think it's a beautiful thing to be able to tell someone like, you know, you don't you don't really need a structure. I mean, it's what happened. They just have happened, just focus on some bits to bring it to life. But then you just find so many people have no clue what a story actually is. And then it's all voiceover. So maybe I needed to tell you a bit more because this is not really worse, or worse. It's just opinion.

Marsha Shandur 29:52

It's just a thing. It's commentary. The only time you're allowed commentary is if it's inside your internal monologue. It that moment, like whenever I work with storytellers so for my for my show for my live show true stories told by Toronto are currently online, I'll put a link

Francisco Mahfuz 30:10

to a two year waiting

Marsha Shandur 30:12

to tell a story but not to come to the show. For the online one, and whatever, and I always take when I sit down with storytellers, I don't have themes or anything, any parameters, like has to be true has to be about you. Nothing that is like, obviously, everything could be harmful to someone, but nothing that's like, very obviously harmful. So don't have anything that's like racist, or, you know, sometimes I'll have, I'll have content warnings if it's heavy content, but I always take them through this thing about the action scenes, because often people have stories where everything happened in their head. And that's just not an exciting story. It's a great lecture, you know, if they changed their opinion on something, but what I just worked with the storyteller yesterday, and she was like, oh, and I realised that what going through this was really healing. And I was like, Okay, that's great that you say that, what we need are some scenes where that is shown. And we need to have you thinking that in the moment, and actually she said, I don't think I did realise it at the time. And I said, Okay, so then we don't say that, but we just kind of show you getting better. And we let the audience come to that conclusion themselves. But it's interesting, because actually, part of what I'm, you know, at the beginning, I was just coaching people on telling stories. And then I had to start running workshops. I was like, Okay, I've got to reverse engineer, what it is that I'm actually doing. And what I'm now in the process of trying to reverse engineer is how I pull the stories out of people when I'm sitting with them, because I'll sit down with a storyteller usually usually takes about for 10 minutes, or usually takes about two hours, or two and a half hours. And it's me kind of drawing the story out and then doing what I call story Tetris where I'm like, Okay, this bit this bit, and this, that, and here's how we link them. But it's been so instinctive to me, but I'm sure there is a structure because if you come to my show, or even if you listen to some of the old you know, the recordings online, there, you can tell it's it's a martial story often, especially because we always have people who've never done anything like this in their life before never been on stage in any capacity. And so often, they're, you know, they're, they're following the structure. And so I think that it's there, and there's definitely like, okay, in fact, I'm gonna do this with you right now, if you want to live, let's just because I was because I was trying to figure this out yesterday with the storyteller. That it's like, often, if you have a story, you want to tell performatively on stage, it says 10 ish minute story that you've got, like one to four action scenes in 10 minutes. Usually, there's a scene that's drawing you to that story. Usually, there's like a moment. You know, I remember building until I tell the story about when my beloved uncle Boris died. And I built it all around this one scene of the first time in the hospital, where I was like, Oh, he's really sick. And so and then you build up at it. So it's like, you've got your scene. Sometimes it's like, the crunch point, you know, where I asked him to marry me, or, you know, I, whatever, I broke my leg and everything changed. Or I went on stage, and I won the award. And then it's like, okay, what do we need in advance of that? So we know how much to care, like, so we know what the stakes are. Because like you want an award good for you. But if you find out that like your whole life, you've been told you are never going to win anything. So what scenes do we need to put in to show that? And then what must we have afterwards, so that the audience aren't left completely confused, you don't need to tie up every single bow. And that's kind of it. Like, that's kind of like the rough structure for that 10 minute story. But so I absolutely think it's good. Like, I think it's great that you have a bootcamp and I think people do, right. People need to structure that's why I have so many I have so many email templates. And it's because people are just like, What do I do? And it's like, here's some words, you can change all of them.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:41

Yeah, I what my trouble with with with any type of structure is that. So you get all kinds, right, you get one that describes what it is. So for example, to the context right at the beginning, Part Seven, fine, but then you get others that are more prescriptive about how the things you actually say. So the one I've been I've been using with people is pretty simple is just before, but so after I said, if you can get a story without touching those points, you're you're a better storyteller than I am. And you but but even I find sometimes difficult because not not all stories have the soul will be the actions that come after the problem. Not all stories have that, you know, I've been I was just telling a story the other day about how, again, social media I'll tweak slightly how I started the story, because when I grabbed people what I said, I said something like, you know my daughter is four years old and she's already a lot more confident than I am or at least she was until the bullying starts. Yeah, and then and then I give a tiny bit of context and then I talk about what happened in an angel how she's reacting to it and that's about it there is there's no like the no actions that I've taken to fix it or she's taken to fix it. It's just like, it is like I can't quite but but the thing is you don't need to like you don't need to fit every

Marsha Shandur 34:56

Yeah, and I think after sometimes you need something but often the story actually just ends at the crunch point. And you don't need to say, you know, I'm trying to think of stories of stories that links I

Francisco Mahfuz 35:08

have I have, I haven't for you. So do you know Matthew, Deeks? No. Okay, so Matthew Deeks, who my listeners should be very tired of hearing me talk about he he won the math stories. Yeah, 5051 times. Wow. And I think he's won the Grand Slam six or seven times now. Yeah. So he has this thing that he calls a suit, like he wants to put the suit on the audience and it doesn't want to doesn't take him off. So there's this story he tells about how he is essentially his tire explodes. He doesn't really he spends all his money. He's trying to replace the tire. He managed to spend all his money replacing the tire, it doesn't have money to pay for gas and go home. And he's, he's such a sort of poor, lonely kid at the time that there's no one who can call for help. So what he ends up doing is he puts on his McDonald's uniform, knock on someone's door and says that he's from the Mac, the Ronald McDonald Charity, and he's collecting money for for cancer. Yes, it's just like, he kind of gets worse and worse after that the person who opens the door turns out to have lost someone to cancer. And he's just feeling awful throughout the he's like, I like this is definitely not what I don't know why I said that. He just kept like it in his head. In any sort of story sort of ends with him, like, realising he thought he was lonely. And he thought he was like, you know, he deserve some help. And PT in the guy who has lost his wife has hasn't seen his kids in years is like I, I just, I never want to feel as lonely as that man felt that day on the doorstep. And he said, first time he told the story at the mosque. He then told her for years, he used to tip a lot of money to make the McDonald's charity every time he went into McDonald's, because you're so guilty about it. And his wife one day said math is okay, you can stop now. And he said the guy who started the math came to him and said You ruin that store. If you ruined it, like you gave us catharsis you gave us like, you fixed it, like we had this horrible feeling. And then you go in told us it was a right after all, because you did all these things. After in we got nothing, we got closure, we never gonna think about the story ever again. And he said, from that point onwards, I started thinking that, like, I don't want my stories to be resolved, necessarily. I want people to think what happened after,

Marsha Shandur 37:28

please. Yeah, but it's interesting, because like, sort of feel, I feel like a little bit conflict. So I have this literally the story that I worked in yesterday. It's about a woman who's she's just left a relationship with this guy who was awful. But it's very clear that she in the moment, she didn't know that he was awful. And so I saying we can't say, you know, you're telling the story from the perspective of you in that moment, because of the bodies. So you can't say of course, now I realise he was a terrible shithead because at the time, she thought it was all her fault. And so all the way through the story she's saying, It's all my fault, and it kind of ends with her like the end of the story is her being like, maybe it's not. And I feel compelled as the host to go in afterwards and be like, just to be clear. Christine, Christine now understands that that guy's a terrible shithead her friends actually call him El Diablo. It's true that I haven't made her say it in the story. But it's funny because you saying that about this guy. I'm like, This guy's the word like it's actually I don't know, maybe it's because there's I have I have like, sort of a through one person connection to that charity that I'm just like, that's awful. That's terrible. Why are you telling the story I'm saying?

Francisco Mahfuz 38:42

I think that one is a particular strange case in that the what the thing is, those are so awful. But like, through the story when it happens, you realise I understand how what led him to write, but he's felt awful the moment he's always feeling awful about it. He's like, feeling awful from the moment that has the idea to the moment that he does it. In the stories about him realising sort of, you know, my life is not anywhere near as bad as I'm making it out to be and I and this has just been slammed into my face. And then you feel like it's an awful thing. It's done. But it doesn't feel awful. If you find out what happened four years after, it's just like, okay, that doesn't feel awful at all. It doesn't stay with you. Right?

Marsha Shandur 39:24

I guess as long as you're not what I what here's what I think it is, is I think you don't want to walk people up to trauma and then just leave. Like, I feel like the Audience member I feel like you have to like you have to find a way to like walk them back out of it just a little bit.

Francisco Mahfuz 39:42

Well, you need to you need to change and some change needs to happen. And I don't think you need you don't need to go and take you all the way to what are the consequences of that change after a year or two and how you're still confident now. That is not necessary. At least not if you're trying to have authority with emotional So, there's one that I, there's one that fits into the whole editing thing that you talk about a lot, which is, I have this story that I can tell it takes, like 10 minutes to terrify tell from, like everything, which involves, you know, getting dumped and feeling so miserable that I want to leave the country. And then, you know, it's very complicated, right, and ends up with me breaking into a Radiohead concert. There's shenanigans that go with it, right? And I can tell that story. And I can completely ruin the story by by talking about how the girl that the whole story was about is now my wife. Ah, so I use her name was people that know me. I can Oh, sorry, doesn't work at all, because they know how it is. They know that event. All this all this drama. They're like, Yeah, but you're gonna end up with her right

Marsha Shandur 40:48

before, right? And that's the biggest mistake I see people make is throwing in spoilers, because I think often people think, Oh, if I say the most exciting thing first, then people will keep listening. But actually, we don't care. Because we because there's no stakes. That's about emotional stakes, right? There's no stakes, because we're like, oh, you're gonna marry her anyway, who cares?

Francisco Mahfuz 41:05

Yeah, in this one, it's not even. It's not even just that it's that the Radiohead part of the thing, it was the original motivation of like, why chose England to go to instead of any other country could have gone into life as he was one of the motivations as I was a big Radiohead fan and, and there was a gig and whatever. Like, I can tell the story with the Radiohead gig, and I break into the radio gig and all of that, but I can actually stop it way before. Like it like the moment, the moment I realised, maybe I'm not going to be miserable forever, happens a lot before that when the Radiohead league is just a plan, and is the most exciting part of the story, no way. But actually, I'm sort of learning the same lesson twice over if I go all the way to the end. And so it's, sometimes it's just what you think you really want in the story doesn't do the story, right? It doesn't help the story. Or

Marsha Shandur 41:55

I think to me, that sounds like two stories. Like it sounds like two different stories. And I think also like one of the questions when I'm working with people who are telling stories for work, you know, if it's part of a keynote, or whatever, is the question that you asked is like, why you? And I think it's a question you should ask about literally any decision you make in business at all, which is, why am I doing this? And what do I want to be different as a result? And you know, that same question that I asked, you know, about, if I said, all your keynote is not in two months, it's right now and you have 30 seconds. And the reason I asked that question is because that's the core of everything used to build. And so you're always asking yourself, what do I want people to think differently. And so say you're doing a keynote, the story at the beginning, the purpose that it serves, first of all, is it's a pattern arrest. So it's just something to make people like, sit up and listen. And also because it engages all these different parts of your brain. And because it's very connective, I always say to people, it's like, you get them all in the boat, you tell a story, and everyone their whole audience is in the boat. And then they're like, well, you're gonna roll us Francisco, because they just with you. So you can say anything after that. But really often what you want to do in those stories is you want to find a story that the audience can relate to, so that you can say, I get it, and I get you. When I when I teach networking workshops. I tell a story at the beginning. And the audience. My networking workshops are people who like find it terrifying or gross or hate it. And I know that they're expecting me to stand up and go, just be confident guys, so easy, just be confident. And and so what I do is I start to tell a story at the beginning, I always start with a story. You know, I say today, you're gonna learn this, this this, whatever, some information, gap teases. And then I say I am a storytelling coach. So I'm going to start with a story and I tell him a story about the first conference that I ever went to. And the story starts with me sitting in my room with crippling stomach pains, listening to 400 Teenagers outside my door, having a party and I'm alone and feeling like a loser. And, and I basically I went to this conference when I was 17. And the idea of I didn't know anyone, and the idea of walking up to a bunch of strangers at dinner time and saying, I've got no friends can I sit with you was so terrifying that I just didn't go to any of the meals. So that's why and everybody else is away from home alone for the first time and having a party and I'm by myself and stomach cramps, because I haven't eaten for day and a half. And I do that to say I was terrified to I've been where you've been. I know where you are. And and when I did, I did a keynote at the World Domination Summit a couple of years ago, it was the it was the closing keynote at the penultimate ever this big conference has been running for nearly 10 years. And and it was a keynote that I had wanted to do. I had first gone and seven years before and every year would be like, wow, wouldn't it be great like I just started my business when I worked on it be great to be on that stage. So it was kind of the culmination. And I worked because I can't coach myself. I worked with my amazing friend, Michelle berry Franco and it's so think that everybody has occurred. Everybody who was a coach should be coached on this subject because she asked me all the same questions I asked my clients and I gave her all the same bullshit and they had The story that I was going to open with, and Michelle was like, it's a great story. It's powerful. It's beautiful. It's not right for this talk. And I was like, You don't understand, I have built this entire talk around this story, Michelle, I need to make them cry. And she was like, Do you. And eventually, because she's a brilliant genius, she went, go off and look at the look, watch some talks by some by some speakers you love. So I looked at Brene Brown, I looked at Dominic Kristina, like, I looked at all these people. And most of them their first story is a cute fun story about the actual talk. Damn it. And I ended up telling you, I ended up instead, telling the story about what my Daydream was of how the talk was gonna go. And actually, it was a great story to tell, because I knew that three quarters of that room, were all sitting in the audience wondering about how their talk was gonna go, you know, and mine ends up with me, like getting Cloudsoft out of the auditorium and, you know, put into a hot air balloon and, and, you know, and then I explained, the whole talk is about what I call the beast, which is the little voice that sits on your shoulder when you're, especially when you're trying to do creative work or date, and says, no one wants to hear from you. You've got a weird face, or whatever, you know, you've got to face no one likes, and, and so then I talked about how I didn't actually, you know, do all the work I meant to do on the talk and how my beast came and whispered in my ear, and so and so it was just it was really interesting for me to be on the other side of that to be like, oh, yeah, my stories have to be relatable to the audience. You know, the other story, I thought it was epic, but it wasn't really

Francisco Mahfuz 46:34

relevant. Yeah, I. So I've seen plenty of different approaches to this. I heard Kyndra Hall, who is a big keynote speaker on storytelling, talk about how to her this is the concept of an opening story. And so the opening story should definitely be about the stuff you're going to talk about. And like the Can you hit the main scene of your keynotes or presentation. In that story. It doesn't need to be the biggest story or the best story you have. But it should definitely give them an idea of what the talk is about. And yeah, you obviously need to make yourself relatable, you always need to make the characters relatable, but I so I was doing this. I did this keynote for big HR audience a week or two ago. And a week before. My wife had had like a horrific sort of HR experience where she you know, she found a new job and she gave her notice, and the bosses were complete assholes, like her current bosses are complete assholes and mistreated her ended up shifting her out of a bunch of money. And it was like a perfect HR story. But it didn't, it didn't really fit to open a talk like that the message I can get out of this story doesn't work here. Like no, it's definitely a very powerful story I can tell. So instead, I told the story about like, when my very first job where I was super excited to be part of the organisation because of the story the organisation was telling. It was so boring that within weeks I was sleeping in the in the bathroom to to to idle Oh, wait the time, I might have said the maintenance room. Gross in the bathroom. And you know, they laughed and they got the point of like, you know, some jobs are super boring. And that's we lose good people because our jobs in the way we talk to people we use really boring. So in that was kind of the theme of the of the talk. And then I guess my wife's when later when I was trying to give an example of this is why a story works. And I said I gave them statistics on how many people get shafted when they leave a job. And I and I actually I gave them the story. And then I said, Okay, now for most people, you probably really upset for my wife, you really disappointed the world, that stuff still happens, or you don't go on social media and torture these people. But if I had just told you this statistics, and I just gave them like you you just go Oh, yeah, that's sex. Right? Yeah. So yeah, I agree. I think I think we, we sometimes as the people who tell stories be like this, this is really good. I mean, this one packs, they're gonna cry. But also people I heard this from someone, it's such a basic, basic, basic advice. And I think I've neglected for years, which is you might not have earned the right to either make them laugh or make them cry, or, or whatever. It might be right at that moment in the start, because I think I did a presentation and I had what I thought was a really good line right at the beginning, and I couldn't get the laughs I thought I was gonna get and it's like, well, they don't even know what this is about. Yeah, they don't know if you're meant to be a funny guy if you're being serious. So if you drop a like a deadpan line, right, they don't know if you're making a joke about it. Or if you just a dick, that is bragging about, you know, going to the Maldives, with your wife, which was this this particular case, so like they need to understand what you're about a bit before you can get them to go with you to places that are not necessarily that obvious.

Marsha Shandur 49:50

That's super interesting. That's such such a feel like that's such a great line that you might not have the right and I would say with opening story. I think you're absolutely right there has to have the theme but I'm also afraid have stories, especially you're setting up and saying, you know, at the beginning this talk, we're going to learn this, this this, you know, one intriguing thing, the one thing you should never the three things you must always but then having a story that's analogous. So I'm working with a, I'm working with a client at the moment on a talk about diversity, equity and inclusion. And the story we have at the beginning, is of her taking her baby twins to the doctor for the first time. But the kind of message of the story is, I was so terrified of making a mistake. But it turns out in parenting, it's impossible not to make mistakes. And also, that's the case in the eye. And then we kind of draw analogies all the way through about about, you know, the same thing of like, you're always gonna make mistakes, but that's okay. It's how you deal with them afterwards that you'll be defined. And, and so we can kind of refer back to that. And I think the nice thing, the nice thing, when you can have a story that that is, is like doesn't seem like kids irrelevant. There's a quote from the hip, the Heath brothers Chip and Dan Heath, and made stick where they say, Aha, is much more powerful when it's preceded by her. And so, you know, when I went to design workshops, when I have an exercise when we're in person, where I get people to dress up and reenact all of those movie scenes. So we reenact the Rocky theme tune, we reenact the classic scene from the graduate. And but at the beginning of the workshop, I just have a table with wigs and costumes on it. So the for the whole of the beginning of the workshop, they're like, What are the weeks?

Francisco Mahfuz 51:26

Why am I not surprised? Yeah.

Marsha Shandur 51:27

And then, and then that means when it comes, they're like, oh, and so I feel like you can do that with your stories as well. As long as you say they're thematically linked. You can have a story that seems to be nothing to do with what this thing is about. And as long as it as long as the theme is the same. And then And then again, it makes your audience feel smarter. They're like, oh, like, we love that feeling. It's like when we figure out who done it in a murder mystery we're watching before they tell us we're like I was. And so you can do that for your audience by leaving little breadcrumbs. And by by doing things that aren't obvious at first, but then ah, yes, well, yeah,

Francisco Mahfuz 52:05

sometimes you can just open with something that that does nothing more than sort of make it relatable, gets a bit of a giggle, and then helps you launch into the actual themes. So I had I had a roomful of accountants. And one theme of I have, you know, there's Netflix theme. So I one thing I talk about is how, you know, millions of people can watch binge on Netflix for hours on end, no problem. But most of us struggle to sit through a business meeting for 10 minutes without checking our phones, doodling or having our minds wander. But that's boring to start with. Like, it makes sense. And people be nodding, but it's boring if I open with that. So I just opened with something like, you know, my wife and I were watching this thing on Netflix just last night, which was actually true. And then episode over. We didn't, we wanted to watch more, but we didn't have an hour because it was very late. It was 10 o'clock at night, which for people with small children is very late. But we have 15 minutes. So so we did we did what married couples can only do when their children go to sleep. We cleaned up the house. And we just did that I you know, they got a bit of a giggle and then okay, fine, just relax. This is not a complete moron. Say yes. Yes, right, a couple of a couple of things on the on the action action scene. So I've seen you talk about your your grandmother, and you often do a very funny accent, which I have no doubt actually sounds like her. But this is something I've seen a lot of people talk about, and I have genuinely given the advice to people that you probably should, like, unless you are amazing at accents. And you know, 100% you're not going to offend someone by by imitating their accent, I think in general, just talk like your talk,

Marsha Shandur 53:51

I think. Yeah, I mean, if it's, I think it's a member of your family. And if you are from that culture, I'm doing this Russian her accent was kind of Russian Turkish because she lived a lot of her life in Turkey. And I think when I do impressions of her or do impressions, my uncle Boris like, I am Russian, you know, I'm not Turkish, but I have some tartar, like, I grew up around those people. But I would never do like a Nigerian accent or you know, because that would be enormously well racist and offensive and problematic. And so I think, I think it's like, if it's your culture, you know, in the way that like, I can make jokes about queers, because I'm a queer person, but if a straight person does, I might be like, You need to shut that down right now. You know, and so,

Francisco Mahfuz 54:35

unless it's the every time to stop it comes up every time I remember that Seinfeld episode, where Bryan Cranston was like a sadistic dentist, and he converts to Judaism and immediately starts cracking Jewish jokes. And then the Seinfeld starts having a go with even talking to his rabbi that he thinks his dentist has only converted to Judaism for the joke You can tell.

Marsha Shandur 55:02

Right? That's it because clearly even Seinfeld sees that it's problematic, right? So I think you can tell your jokes from your culture in the same way you can do your accents. Yes from your culture, but don't do them from other people's. That's awful. That's just a bad scene.

Francisco Mahfuz 55:17

Yeah. And the other the other point is, I think you do this, but I haven't, you know, analyse this to a degree to give certainty. But you tell a lot of your stories in the present tense, don't you?

Marsha Shandur 55:30

Yeah, I think that when you're, when you're telling spoken stories, or something know, just every time when you're telling spoken out loud stories from your mouth,

Francisco Mahfuz 55:44

it's just spoken out loud.

Marsha Shandur 55:50

When you're talking out loud, telling stories, then and this again, you know, is something that was instinctive, it was confirmed by my storytelling teacher, Sage turtle, who she says when you tell a story, if you if you're in the present tense that keeps you present, and that keeps us present, you know, context goes in the past tense, because you're always telling it in the present tense of you in that moment. So don't tell us anything new in the future. And then written, it's funny because sage will write her stories in the present tense, but I tend to write them in the past tense, I kind of play around with both. And I don't really think that it's particularly wrong or right it just somehow it maybe it's because you know, reading fiction, my whole life or memoir, or whatever, it just instinctively, I tend to write in the past tense and speak in the present tense, but I always think it's more powerful when you can speak in the present tense.

Francisco Mahfuz 56:35

Yeah, I've come around to that. It hasn't been it wasn't. I know, 10 episodes ago that I spoke someone Someone said that and like, it said, it just feels awkward because you're not doing it, like do it a few times, and it doesn't feel anywhere near as awkward. Then I spoke to Matthew Dix. And it's like, yeah, I think even when you think it's awkward, it's like a storyteller thing. actually pay attention to people like at a bar, they'll say, oh, man, you wouldn't believe it just happened. So I'm in the bathroom. Yeah. And

Marsha Shandur 57:00

I said, and then she says, yeah, yeah, it's true. It's true. People do it conversationally. And I think, I think it definitely keeps you present. Because it's like, if we're, if we're trying to do that Freaky Friday style, body swap, and your show, so you're trying to make us feel like we're inside your story. If you're in the past tense, we're like that, that didn't happen. But that, but I didn't go into the bathroom, you know. And so if you say I go into bath, and then then we'll go through that experience with you. And I think and just one thing on spoken stories, we talked about this a little bit earlier, but with performance. So generally, I think you always need to tell it in the chronological order that it happened to you. But the one time you can mess with that is at the beginning of the story, because the first 30 seconds is the point where people decide, am I going to listen? Or am I just gonna make my face look like I'm listening when I'm wondering what to make for dinner. And context by its nature has to be voiceover montage, because you have to cover a lot of ground. So it's not very exciting. And so when you're doing performative stories, you know, written or spoken, you always want to start writing the action, then pull out and give the context and then come back to the action. And what you want to do in that first bit of action is create an information gap. So an information gap is anything where you have like some of the information but not all of it. You know, it's the reason why those BuzzFeed headlines that say 12 Weird Things dogs did, you'll never believe number four work on us, even if we don't like dogs or weird things. You know, the reason why when you know, you have to be up in the morning, because you have small children who are gonna wake you up. But Netflix is counting down, you're like, well just watch until the credits on the next episode, because you because you want to close that information gap. And the Easy Peasy way to do that. And storytelling is tell us what did it look like? So give us some sense of context. I'm standing in the train station, Cologne, there's people running around me. And then tell us how did you feel but don't tell us why you felt that way, you know, and I'm terrified. And I'm so excited. And I think I can't believe this is happening. And I think I couldn't believe this is happening. And then you give the context because then we'll want to know what's happening. And that will carry us through the slightly less interesting voiceover montage. And then you jump back into that action scene,

Francisco Mahfuz 59:05

which I think we were talking earlier about structure and how some people have you know, a Marcia story. And to meet that because you believe so much in the chronological order to meet that is the structure is you're zooming at something that not the major scene of the story, but he's missing a scene key, no action scene a little bit zoom out, which is another way of saying pulling out if you don't have to say pull out all the time. Then then you just basically giving the story in the chronological order just cutting all the crap out. Pretty structured,

Marsha Shandur 59:39

very straightforward structure. But when you're having conversation with someone that's weird, naturally in conversation, we start with context. And so if you're at a networking event, and someone says to tell me how you got into this, unless you have supreme levels of confidence, it's quite hard to go So there I was stood at the edge of the edge of the office, not sure what was about to happen. I've been working looking at, you know, acne in code for seven years, like it's weird. And so it's okay to start with context, then because when you're chatting to someone one on one, you have more. You know, it's like one of the questions people often ask me, How long should my story be? And I say, Well, if you're sat with your best friend having a coffee, you can be 45 minutes. If you're a music radio, you've got 20 seconds, like, it depends on the audience and depends on the context.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:00:20

Yeah, I find that this is one of the questions that comes up, either comes up all the time, or should come up all the time, which is, how do you actually start the story, I often tell people don't ever use the S word. You know, the worst thing you can do is announce it. In usually, you just start by saying, Oh, now that you say that it reminds me off, or something along those lines, like, oh, just the other week, I was talking to someone and he said, and then all of a sudden you are into that you are into that moment where you can actually do it in present tense. If you read

Marsha Shandur 1:00:50

or just started, just started, just be just say I was at Costco last week, and this guy walked in, you know, I thought the S word was so because that's what I was. Admittedly, they always go. So I'm in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so is a conjunction, it does not stop the story. But I do it too. I do it too. I say so.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:11

I don't love it. Yeah, I think I think it's just the as long as you give them a time marker, then it's fine. Like, if you say last week, you know, when I was in Brazil, then you can start the story. If you don't give any time or place, then it's just like, so the, you know, the bartender looked at me, and I was like,

Marsha Shandur 1:01:30

That's it. That's it, you get the time. But interestingly, if you're doing it performatively, you can either say when how long ago it was how old you were, or when it was, but don't say more than one of those. Otherwise, everybody stops listening and starts trying to figure out how old you are. That's the thing I've noticed.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:46

Yeah. I've heard I've heard that before.

Marsha Shandur 1:01:50

When she was 18.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:52

Yeah, I have a friend who says he should say if you say 10 years ago, people go, that was 2000. I mean, I hear 10 years ago, I get a vague idea of what it was, unless you're trying to tell me about something like 10 years ago, when I was listening to the top 10, you know, the Top of the Pops on the radio, then I'm going to start trying to figure out what was on the Top of the Pops 10 years ago. But if you say 10 years ago, like I can leave with 10 years ago, I don't need to try and guess this was me. And I think so people get riled up by different things when it comes to when it comes to how you start a story what it's okay, but it's not. All right, I only got down to point three of about 27. But I think we got a lot a lot in there. The one thing I was gonna ask before we got into the structure detour that basically took us all around to this four hour was that someone asked me just before signing on as a client, right? You talk about, you know, telling people, how emotion is important to the story and stuff like that. But does this mean, I'm going to have to tell some sort of sob story? And I said, No, you just need to tell people how you feel. Feel is a substitute, like emotion is not drama. Yeah, feelings of not drama is just you could be just pissed off. You could just be boring. Yes. No, because there's a who you're talking to really?

Marsha Shandur 1:03:14

And even and even people often say to me, How do I tell the story about a sad thing without it seeming? Like I'm trying to ask people to feel sorry for me. And I said, don't ask people to feel sorry for you. Just report it. Storytelling is just reporting this happened, then this happened. And this happened. And this is how I felt this happened. And this happened. This happened. This is how I felt. You're just describing how you felt in the moment. You're not describing how you feel now. You're not saying and I'm still not over it and I can't believe me. And so

Francisco Mahfuz 1:03:47

that'll probably be a good way to read it ruin and stop is to finish with a really poignant point and saying in the best had never called me again. Yeah. Done. Right on on that note, should we should we tell people a little more calmly about the about the secret page, we also tell people apart from the secret I mean, we if they go for the secret page, they will know how to find you. But let's cover those

Marsha Shandur 1:04:12

on the secret page. I'm gonna put links we talked about a gajillion things today. So I'm going to put links to all of them. I'll put links to a video that I make where I talk about the action scenes and where I reenact the Rocky theme, rocky training montage myself. And I'll also put I have a storytelling checklist on there. If you have a presentation coming up. I actually have my and I have my keynote structure PDF, which as I said is not the be all and end all but if you're starting with a blank page, if you've got a keynote presentation, it's a rough structure. I will put that on there as well. And you don't have to sign up to my list to get either of these but if you do sign up to my list, you get to see the best video I've ever made. Where I one point and the therapist doing the feelings. Yeah, it's really it's

Francisco Mahfuz 1:04:54

good. But you're the only person who bothers to add it. Why The hover text on links

Marsha Shandur 1:05:03

right links all over my webpage if you if you hover your mouse

Francisco Mahfuz 1:05:09

I mean, I absolutely see what that looks like you're there feeling really good about yourselves like this one's gonna crack the

Marsha Shandur 1:05:17

Easter eggs I like I always stay till the end of the credits because I want to see if there's an Easter egg on the end. So I love to leave easter egg. So yeah, there are secret messages under most of the links on my on my website. But I'm going to stick all of that up at Yes, yes, Marsha, which is Mar forward slash story powers.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:05:37

The accent on study powers is optional. I'll put that on the on the show notes. Obviously when and when I put it out on social media. I'll link that as well. Next to my maybe soon to be renamed bootcamp. I'm into it. Alright, so the best place to find you if I'm not mistaken here is yes, yes. That's the hub of our story. Yes. For the secret page. But for Marsha and all things Marsha. Yes, yes, Marcia. dotcom. Yes, that's it. Okay, perfect. Yes, I'm very disappointed. I didn't get to half of the stuff I wanted to talk about. But I have an excuse to to invite you over some other time. And I didn't I didn't even get to tell you how the quote you love quoting, quoting from my angel or that everybody loves might not actually be from her. I know. Mormon Minister Cole. Yeah. Oh, really?

Marsha Shandur 1:06:38

I didn't know. I just knew it might not be from her. It's like this. Also,

Francisco Mahfuz 1:06:42

I think you probably said it. But she was not the one who said it first. Yeah.

Marsha Shandur 1:06:49

There's a there's a fact that people in the storytelling scene also love to share that our brains process visual images 600,000 times faster than they do words. And that's another one where you go down the rabbit hole. And there actually, I don't know that there's any science to back it up. Like people everybody who's quoting is just quoting each other

Francisco Mahfuz 1:07:07

to 22 times. 22 times more memorable is another one.

Marsha Shandur 1:07:13

But again, is there science to back that up? Or is that just something that people say?

Francisco Mahfuz 1:07:18

Well, I have I have gone down another rabbit hole. But you know, there's the one from chip and then he's on made to steak where they say 65% of people remember what you told them in the form of a story the next day? Only 5% remember it? I actually worked that out that it's 1,980% higher recall for storytelling, how solid is that science when it's them running it? Maybe two or three groups of people that had 20 people in them? That's enough. That's enough. I think this is as solid science as we ever gonna. Really. This has been so

Marsha Shandur 1:07:49

fun. Thank you so much for having me.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:07:52

It's been an absolute pleasure. And, and I apologise for my Russian yet again. Alright, everyone. Yes, yes. I can imagine though. They sound quite sad. Yes, let's stop. Otherwise, this is another rabbit hole. Go down there. Alright, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.

I hope you enjoyed the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it really does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page