Using Personal Stories to Ignite Your Business


By Judy Carter
2013 ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference Mainstage and Breakout Speaker

Do you have a secret stash of dinner party stories, or stories you tell friends in a bar, or to entertain a date?

I’m talking about those stories that you know inside and out; the really good ones that people beg you to tell over and over. And, after you pretend to NOT want to — you turn a tale loose and leave people laughing, crying or sitting in amazement.

What many women in business don’t realize is the hidden value that a collection of stories can have in business. If you scratch the surface of a story, you’ll most likely find a message that can impact an audience. It might be an audience of many people or an audience of one: a client on the other side of your desk.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you already know that there is no substitute for personal relationships and name recognition. Speaking — rather than “tweeting” – might be your best way to attract new customers, especially now when we are all overwhelmed with impersonal web relationships.

Offline is the new online: face-to-face human interaction is still the most powerful way to get new clients and to sell products and services.

With that said, be careful not to have a “speech” that’s just a one-hour sales pitch.  Audiences are smarter than that, and have no patience if they sense your only purpose is to move merchandise or drum up business. That’s why it’s so important to connect with people and communicate about topics that relate to their needs — not just yours.

Real-life personal stories — if they have the right message -– can accomplish that goal.

My speaking students are often amazed to find out how their crazy boss stories, the drunken family vacation stories or the story of how they survived a life-threatening illness (or their childhood) often have a message that goes much deeper than just entertaining a few friends.

When you find your message, and frame it properly, it can be something that not only connects you to your clients, but that organizations will pay a lot to hear.

We’ve all learned something from our years on this planet. Matter of fact, we probably learned something this week going from breakfast to the office. Even small day-to-day struggles often have hidden treasure in them. I call that the “Message of You”.  Sharing it might make a difference in your life — and change the lives of others.

Have you found your message?  And… are you ready to share it?

Judy Carter,, is the author of “The Comedy Bible”. Her new book is “The Message of You” published by St. Martin’s Press. Find more information at