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How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

I have never met anyone who says they want to attend more meetings at work! For many people, meetings are a productivity zap. So how do we make sure we aim to get the best out of everyone at a meeting?

Many people comment that meetings can be a waste of time, time which could be better spent focusing on more productive tasks. Or that meetings are unnecessarily long and boring, or that their creative ideas get ignored or that decisions are not made. 

The higher up in a company you are, the more time you are likely to spend in these unproductive and demotivating meetings. It is estimated that this can be as many as 23 hours each week

No one minds attending a meeting that is planned and productive, but it’s those poorly run meetings that are the issue. 

Here are some steps you can take to overhaul your business meetings so you avoid wasting your valuable resources and get creative ideas and ingenuity from your talented team members.

Plan ahead to get the best out of everyone at a meeting

To have an effective and productive meeting, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this meeting necessary? Perhaps you could get the same outcome with a phone call or an email. This could allow you to get valuable input from the members of your team who feel less comfortable in a traditional meeting environment. Not everyone likes to share ideas verbally. Be respectful of people’s time and resources and consider individual communication styles.
  • What is the purpose of the meeting? By setting objectives and being clear on what you need to accomplish, you’ll be more efficient. Communicate the purpose of the meeting as part of the invite and again at the start of the meeting. Having a well thought out agenda, that you stick to, will make the meeting much more efficient. Seek input from team members and list agenda items as questions the team needs to answer.
  • Who needs to attend? You won’t get the best out of your employees at a meeting if there is no real need for them to be there. Not only will they come into the meeting with a negative attitude, they’ll switch off, lose motivation, and won’t provide the creative ideas and feedback your business needs to thrive. Do you allow your employees the option to leave, if they feel that it is not useful for them to be in the room? Elon Musk tries to avoid meetings at Tesla and encourages people to leave meetings if they are not adding any value.
  • Have I given plenty of notice? Make sure you tell your team about the meeting at least a day in advance so they have time to collect their thoughts, focus and give it their best. Ideally, send out the papers and pre-reading prior to the meeting. 

Get rid of PowerPoint

Attend any traditional meeting and you’re almost certain to find a PowerPoint presentation that needs to be picked apart and discussed before the meeting can finally come to an end. 

The result? Your meeting feels overly formal and leaves your team members feeling disconnected from the core purpose of your meeting. 

They’re less inclined to contribute, less likely to retain the information you’re sharing, creativity is limited and the overall message can be lost behind the visuals. If team members prefer to absorb information slowly, the faster-paced, thinking on your feet ‘PowerPoint Approach’ is also more likely to deliver disappointing results. 

For these reasons, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint from their meetings back in 2018. 

The alternative is simple. Present your team members with a document outlining the points you’d like to discuss either before or at the start of the meeting and allow them time to read and digest the information. 

Keep it short

Meetings shouldn’t take hours or feel like an ordeal. To get the best out of everyone at a meeting, they should be short, sweet, and effective. 

Wherever possible, keep meetings to under 30 minutes and rely on that agenda to ensure you cover every topic. If you have an extensive list of ideas to discuss, consider scheduling a separate meeting to focus on each topic in turn. 

Don’t be afraid to end the meeting before planned if you’re not making progress or adding value. You won’t offend anyone. As a business, your time is money. You can always reschedule if required and give your team time to reflect on the issues at hand. 

Consider everyone’s personality

More extroverted members of your team are more likely to communicate their ideas without prompting in a meeting. They’ll play an active role, speak their mind, and won’t mind being the centre of attention. When working with an extrovert, you must ensure that they don’t take too long or take over the meeting. Having a skilled facilitator can help this process. 

Introverts, on the other hand, are more likely to consider the ideas carefully, take notes and avoid being in the spotlight. If this difference in behaviour isn’t addressed effectively, you won’t get the most out of your team members. 

To do so, provide plenty of time for reflection, allow them to take notes and create a ‘round robin’ style section that pushes the individual to speak without adding too much pressure.

By taking the different personality types into consideration, you’re more likely to find a balance. 

Some may feel nervous about public speaking

There may be members on your team who could benefit from attending a public speaking workshop or coaching session. When all eyes are on you in a meeting setting, some may feel a level of discomfort that prevents them from sharing their ideas. Consider upskilling your team members so that they feel confident to speak up at meetings. 

Avoid distractions 

Although introverts prefer quiet spaces with plenty of time for reflection and extroverts prefer action, big groups and constant action, all team members will work more effectively in a meeting if you keep distractions to a minimum.  

Ask everyone to avoid using their devices and ban answering phone calls, checking emails, or completing other tasks whilst the meeting is in progress. If Members of your team prefer to take notes, encourage them to write them down in a notebook instead of firing up the laptop. It can also be useful to provide notes afterwards to allow your team to digest what they have heard. 

Actively manage the meeting

Every effective meeting should have a facilitator or timekeeper to ensure that the time is used effectively. This can include using hand signals, coloured cards or even using a timer to ensure that everything is covered before moving onto the next topic. 

They can also help guide the discussion, encouraging more introverted team members to speak up and limiting the time that the extroverts stay in the limelight. 

Summarise your meeting

When the meeting comes to an end, recap what has been discussed and outline details such as next steps, the time frame and who is responsible for each task. 

This provides clarity and promotes an action-based approach that can help your business move closer towards its goals. Combined with a printed copy of the next steps, you’ll ensure that even team members with a short attention span can take action. 

Switch your location and get creative

Meetings don’t have to be done in a dull, stuffy conference room

In fact, moving to another location such as a coffee shop, bar or even the great outdoors can help add new creative energy to the proceedings and make it a fun experience that team members will look forward to. 

Many multinationals also like to use office design to promote spaces that allow for different types of meetings and personality types. 

How could you switch up your meeting location to get the best out of everyone? 

Business meetings can be productive, effective, and even fun if you follow the steps outlined here. 

Prepare for the meeting carefully, set time limits, consider everyone’s personality, and actively manage the proceedings to ensure everyone can share their ideas. By doing so, you’ll get the best out of your team and turn round meetings to be an opportunity for creativity and innovation. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Why Leaders Need to be Great Storytellers

Why Leaders Need to be Great Storytellers

If you want to fulfil your potential and become an engaging, authentic and persuasive leader, you need to be a great storyteller.

Today’s leaders need to be great storytellers as it is one of the key Soft Skills that help leaders communicate effectively.

The most memorable leaders throughout history have always been outstanding storytellers; Gandhi, George Washington and Julius Caesar used the power of story to inspire their audience, inspire action and spark positive change.

Although most of us aren’t trying to revolt against oppressors or lead a revolution (hopefully!), we too can use stories to achieve our unique business and career goals and get our teams engaged. 

Every ambitious leader should be willing to embrace storytelling as an alternative way to open up communication and build a more promising future for all. Here’s why.

Why stories are an effective tool for communication

Stories have been a natural part of our history since time began. Almost every culture around the world has a strong tradition of sharing stories with others, whether that’s through oral storytelling, books or even our modern digital storytelling.

We love them because they help us to make sense of our lives and bring them meaning. They evoke emotions, stir our senses, spark our imagination and if they resonate with us, can even cause levels of the bonding hormone, oxytocin to spike.

But that’s not all- according to a 2017 study published in the Nature Communications Journal, stories are a uniquely human way of fostering cooperation in a social group and sharing cultural expectations. If you are the storyteller, you have a greater chance of being trusted, climbing up the social hierarchy and even having healthier offspring.

It’s hardly surprising then that storytelling is a powerful tool when it comes to business communication.

Stories can communicate messages and share values in a way that bare scientific or statistical fact can’t.

If you, as a leader, can share your data or information into a compelling story, you’re much more likely to drive engagement, your message will become more memorable, and trust will grow. By using story, you give your listeners a reason to keep striving for a better world.

Why your story is worth sharing (even if you think it’s not)

You’re likely nodding your head at what I’ve just shared. You’ve already read your fair share of books, watched numerous TED talks, and poured over the studies that encourage you to use storytelling to unlock your public speaking power.

But the problem is, you don’t believe that you have any stories worth sharing. So why leaders need to be great storytellers is because storytelling works!

Or you think that others just wouldn’t be interested in what you have to say. Or you’re clueless when it comes to selecting the right stories to share and how to structure them for the best impact.

However, you can learn how to tell inspiring stories, even if you believe that you are hopeless. Although there are one or two gifted storytellers in the world, most of us learned through dedicated focus and attention, and you can do the same thing.

By identifying the most relevant stories to convey your message, tailoring your story for the environment, monitoring how people react and getting plenty of practice, you can perfect your storytelling skills.

Master the art of storytelling for leaders

Becoming an outstanding, engaging storyteller depends on three key pillars:

1) Choosing which ‘type’ of story you want to use

2) Identifying the right story for your audience.

3) Understanding how to structure stories so they have the greatest impact.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Which type of story

There are several stories that every leader should have at the ready. The first story you should begin with is the Signature Story. This is a story that is about you and your journey, but also includes how you help others (we want to avoid ‘all about me’ stories!).

Decide which story to use

Next, you should consider which of your stories will resonate with your audience(s).

This story doesn’t have to be long. In fact, a short story is better as you simply want it to complement your message, not take over entirely.

Select the stories that are likely to resonate with your audience and aim to weave a few through your presentation so they appear effortless.

When you manage to choose the right story for the right moment, you can create an immersive experience for your listener so they feel like they could be part of that story. Your audience will relate better to what you are sharing, you’ll foster trust and you’ll be more likely to inspire positive action.

And yes, it is possible to do this in a shorter time than you think.

If you’re stuck for ideas, you can create a story bank that includes details of the things you’ve seen, heard or observed an experience that has had an impact on you. Just jot them down and then you will be able to refer to them later.

Perfect the structure

An effective short story for presentations should follow the shape of an arc. It should have a clear beginning, middle and end and should be able to get a point across in a short time. There are three main elements to a story;

  • Context: E.g. “Once upon a time…
  • Challenge: What happened to disrupt the status quo, and then what?
  • Change: What did you/they do about it and how are you/they different now?

Conclusion

Storytelling is the most effective way to engage your audience, build your authority and encourage positive change for the future and can be learned relatively quickly.

Start by collecting stories, select the most effective and structure your stories carefully so they can have the maximum impact. Find out more about my Business Storytelling for Leaders workshops.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Give Feedback without Sugar Coating

Give Feedback without Sugar Coating

One of the key elements of effective leadership communication is the ability to give feedback that is honest and helpful. 

Book Summary – Radical Candor

Radical candor is a refreshing book for anyone who leads a team, and in particular, if you want to give feedback in a way that helps others to develop. It is a way of communicating at work to bring out the best in yourself and others. I have created this one-page book summary sketchnote based on the concepts in the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

Being a leader can be tough at times, particularly when you are faced with those difficult conversations about under performance. You know the ones, management books from years ago would recommend that you give feedback using the s*it sandwich approach – beginning and ending with praise and a dash of criticism cushioned in the middle. 

There is a better way to give feedback according to the author of the book. 

Our ability to have tough conversations is paramount to the success or failure of any team. 

When a boss is considered too harsh, people tend to feel unvalued and consider their manager a bully. When a boss has a head in the sand approach to underperforming team players, then resentment can build. 

If you have ever been in a team where you are carrying the weight of another because the boss can’t have an honest and open conversation, then you will know this feeling. How about the team members who cruise along delivering to a mediocre standard?

Give feedback in a way that guides and serves others

In this book, the author provides a four-quadrant framework to help leaders become better communicators, in particular the ability to effectively give feedback, as well as receiving it. There are also plenty of other tools in the book related to career conversations and decision making. 

According to the author radical candor is 

Building radically candid relationships begin by bringing your whole self to work. This includes going beyond turning up with your professional self. It is built on trust and caring about others in a genuine way. 

The concept of “Care Personally” is the result of showing up with your whole self and caring about your team members on a human level – not simply about them in their role at work. It includes building relationships and being willing to be sociable at work whilst respecting boundaries. 

When you Care Personally, it leads to your ability to Challenge Directly. This is part of Scott’s framework to address issues of underperformance, telling people when their work is not up to standard, as well as telling them when they are doing well. 

You can start by finding out what motivates your team members, what matters to them and where they want to get in their career. 

When Care Personally and Challenge Directly come together – Radical Candor is the result.

What it is not

Radical Candor is not a license to be rude or ignorant, nor is it being blunt and aggressive, or sugar-coating your message. 

It is not being fake! If you are not willing to let your guard down at work and you wish to be 100% professional, you may find it difficult to build trust and candid relationships with those in your team. 

Radical Candor is not dependent upon hierarchy, it’s not about ego and it is not about becoming overly friendly with your colleagues. 

It is that sweet spot, where you are able to give feedback that will guide and serve the other person and help them develop. 

What are the benefits of Radical Candor?

A radically candid leader can give feedback and receive it equally well. When feedback is given it is always direct and sincere, it is specific and helpful. 

There are four quadrants in the Radical Candor model.

The only quadrant to operate from is the Radical Candor area where Caring Personally and Challenging Directly are aligned.

The second area that is less than ideal but preferable to the quadrants on the left of the model is Obnoxious Aggression. I had to read this art twice as it sounds counterintuitive. When you are so direct that it is criticism without caring then you may be labelled confrontational and unpleasant, but your team members will know exactly where they stand. The other way that this can play out is when criticism is given in front of others in an attempt to humiliate. 

At the bottom left of the framework is the quadrant of Manipulative Insincerity, which is according to Scott, ‘..you don’t care enough about a person to challenge them directly’.

Sucking up to others, the desire to be liked, and worrying about what others think of you can result in this approach. Manipulative Insincerity is not helpful and does not lead to trusting and fulfilling working relationships. 

The final quadrant on the top left is Ruinous Empathy. This is the classic sugar coating scenario where a leader will turn a blind eye to work that is not good enough for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Or offering up praise that is not really justified. People don’t know where they stand when they have a boss who operates from this quadrant. 

Give Feedback Radical Candor Graphic Recording Lisa Evans

I worked for a department that demonstrated this style. During the 12 months, I worked there, three people were transferred into the team. I later found out they were passed off to the team as they had a history of underperforming. This quickly caused resentment as some people saw the transfer as rewarding poor performance, and others had to pick up extra work or fix mistakes. Transferring out team members who are not working up to the required standard is, at the very least a band-aid solution. 

If only they’d read this book. By transferring these people it was not really helping them long term. 

When you give feedback in a radically candid way it can feel uncomfortable at first

Putting Radical Candor in place at first may feel uncomfortable. The author suggests that as a first step, a leader can ask for, before they give feedback, so they can feel what it is like to receive criticism from others as a starting point.

When a team has the radical candor ethos, trust is formed and results are achieved. 

There are plenty of tools, tips and ideas in the book to help you communicate in a way that is fair, open, and helps people understand what they can do to improve. 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any team. Radical Candor is an ideal book for anyone who is a boss, leader or who is stepping up to lead. 

Learning how to embrace this approach early on in your career so that it becomes intertwined in how your form relationships at work will be a solid way to serve your team well.  


I began Graphic Recording early in my professional speaking career as a way of internalising material. I don’t use notes or memorise any material, as I dislike the way that memorised speeches sound. When I create a storyboard for one of my talks, it allows me to capture the picture as a visual and this gives me a much better grasp of the message and makes it easier to craft my talk around the concepts. I also share this method with my clients.

I often gift one-page sketchnotes to authors if I have read their book, and for a small fee I can sketch other non-fiction books of your choice. 


Feature Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Soft skills are the new super skills

Soft skills are the new super skills

Soft skills. You’ve heard the term, but what exactly does it mean? And, why does it matter in business? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, soft skills are no longer simply nice-to-haves. They’re pretty much the defining factor for success in the workplace.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Having sound soft skills paired with equally strong hard skills is the ultimate winning combination.  An internal study by Google found that it’s best teams weren’t the ones full of top scientists. Instead, the most accomplished teams were multidisciplinary groups including employees who brought strong soft skills to the table.

Soft skills are about the way we approach tasks. They influence how we interact with others and cover a wide range of skills from empathy to time management and decision-making.

In demand

Earlier this year, LinkedIn analysed the skills listed on the profiles of those who got hired at the highest rates. According to the professional networking site (with over 300 million active users) the most in-demand soft skills are;

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The softly softly approach works

As our working landscape continues to change, never before have strong soft skills been so important to the workforce. Soft skills are universal. They are relevant to every individual in every pay grade, in every business and in every sector.

Organisations depend on their people. Good communications and collaboration are critical for business success.

When your soft skills are developed, they make it easier to interact with others, take initiative, create trust and lead teams.

So what impact does this have on an organisation?

  • More effective communication both inside and out
  • Stronger leadership and accountability
  • More efficient processes as a result of better time management
  • Problem solving is no longer ‘a problem’ as staff learn to see different perspectives
  • Critical thinking emerges
  • Productive teamwork and collaboration

In essence, soft skills provide you with a motivated, dependable workforce that will sustain your organisation.

Mind the gap

Interestingly though, the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, identified a shortage of 1.4 million people when it comes to communications skills. Employers recruiting on LinkedIn are searching for skillsets potential candidates don’t have, or, don’t know they have.

It’s possible we don’t know how to big up our soft skills in job applications because

  • we don’t know how to measure our soft skills
  • we’ve never had any formal training in soft skills.

The gap effect

As our working landscapes continue to change at the rate of knots, people must adapt too. Businesses need employees with soft skills to remain competitive and profitable.

Lack of soft skills among a workforce results in

  • increased workload for other employees 
  • poor quality standards
  • outdated processes
  • loss of business to competitors
  • delays in introducing new products.

As technology continues to reshape our lives,  strong soft skills are absolutely crucial. The one thing a machine can’t do is ‘be human’.

Good communication comes naturally to us all, doesn’t it?

Sadly not.

However, soft skills can be developed, cultivated and learned. Is it worth it? A million percent, yes.

If you assume your employees instinctively know how to interact effectively, you’re pretty optimistic. It’s a nice idea but workplaces are diverse and dynamic environments.  It’s very common to overlook the importance of skills like listening and being open to change.

And it’s not just employee relationships at stake, some of your workforce will be on the front line, customer facing.  It doesn’t get much more critical to ensure interpersonal skills are developed.

Leaving it to chance is not an option. Not when you see the transformative effect a workforce with sound soft skills has on an organisation.

A survey of over 500 executives found that emotional intelligence was a better predictor of success than either relevant previous experience or IQ. Soft skills are highly valued because of the importance of teamwork, collaboration, employee interaction and customer relationships in business.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

My services include: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.

A founding story is one business story that every leader needs to tell

A founding story is one business story that every leader needs to tell

Your founding story is a business story that helps others understand what you do, and how it helps them.

Your founding story helps others to understand why your business, product or service exists. The story may also include what you and your brand stands for (incorporating some of the Values Story), as well articulating the value that you offer to those whom you serve.  

Every great leader has the ability to speak with confidence and charisma. One of the most powerful communication tools that a charismatic leader harnesses, is the ability to effortlessly weave stories through their material. 

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller”. 

Steve Jobs

In my work as a Business Storytelling Consultant and Public Speaking Coach, I help leaders to craft and share compelling, memorable and engaging business stories. Using a Story Blueprint™ as a guide to create a suite of stories, people are able to transform their communication.  

The five core stories that make up the Story Blueprint™ are the; Signature Story, Founding Story, Values Story, Aspiration Story and the Customer Story.   

In recent articles, I refer to different types of business stories in the Story Blueprint™.

A good place to start your business storytelling journey is the Signature Story, and in a follow up article, I offered 10 ways to boost engagement by sharing your signature story

You can make a start with any of the five stories and then build on your repertoire as you gain more confidence as you tell your stories.

A founding story holds your essence

I am often asked if there is an ideal length of a business story. This very much depends on the application and context of the storytelling. The rule of thumb is that less is almost always best. It is preferable to leave people wanting more, and it gives people a reason to continue the conversation, rather than tell a story that goes on for too long and can get boring. 

Ideally, once you get comfortable with business storytelling you may have different versions of the story, including a short ‘nutshell story’ of up to 90 seconds, and then perhaps a six minute and a 15 minute version that goes deeper and provides more information. 

Every time you are preparing a presentation, you can consider what version of your story is suitable and this will depend on the purpose the story serves. 

Becoming The Story Midwife

For over 20 years I was a midwife. 

It was my dream job. It gave me incredible  joy to help bring new life into the world.  Then my life was turned upside down, when a virus destroyed most of my hearing. Sadly, I had no choice, but to reluctantly find another career. 

A fresh start,  working in the public service led to isolation and desperation. A toxic workplace destroyed my  confidence and self esteem. I became withdrawn and afraid to speak up.  

A chance meeting with Professor Rajan,  led to an incredible opportunity to take part in a research trial. With the gift of a cochlear implant, I began a new chapter in discovering to hear again in a different way. As part of this journey my interest in speaking and storytelling was sparked.  I sought out mentors and trainers around the world to help me discover and unlock the voice that I was reluctant to share. 

As a former midwife,  a transition to coaching was natural. I became certified and as a lifelong learner I continue to work on my craft.  

Five years ago I decided to become a full time professional speaker, business storytelling consultant, trainer and coach. A complete career change,  but I still get the joy of bringing a new life into the world, instead of babies’ it’s stories.  Some years ago, when a client discovered my previous career,  he introduced me as The Story Midwife. The name has become part of my founding story and helps set me apart. 

Stories have emotional value

The Significant Object Project, was an experiment that set out to discover the economic value of storytelling.

In 2009, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, demonstrated how narrative had an effect on the subjective value of an object.  Their experiment involved the purchase of ordinary low-value items from second-hand shops, and pairing each item with a creative writer, and then for auction on eBay,  to find out if the value in trade increased. And it did, by a massive 2,700%.  Their hypothesis was correct, stories have emotional value and can transform an insignificant object into a significant one. 

“Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.”

Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker

Knowing which story to tell

A good story features a rollercoaster of emotions. It wouldn’t be a good story if we only shared the good bits, or our most successful moments. We need the highs, twists, turns, and low points too. In your quest to become a master at storytelling, it requires being comfortable with an appropriate level of vulnerability. This is different for everyone and vulnerability does not mean oversharing

Six questions to help you craft your founding story

  1. What was the catalyst that led you to start doing what you are doing now? This may be: becoming a business owner / launching a product / or leading a team.
  2. What challenges have you overcome in business? It’s never smooth sailing, and your story is relatable to others when you are open to sharing faults, flaws, and failures, as well as the wins. 
  3. Why are you the best person to lead the business? This part of the story provides you with the opportunity to subtly weave in some credibility.
  4.  Why should others care about your story? In order for a story to make an impact people have to care about how the story helps them. 
  5. What is your vision for the world, and how can you incorporate this into your story?
  6.  What is the legacy that you wish to leave, and how will the world be a better place through your contribution?  

 These questions will help you get started in crafting your Founding Story. Let me know how you go,  I’m always interested in listening to a good story.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

My services include: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.

How Improvisation Helps Leaders to Communicate

How Improvisation Helps Leaders to Communicate

Do you worry what others think of you? Are you afraid of making a fool of yourself? Would you like to be able to speak and think on the fly?

Imagine a safe space where intuition, creative energy, trust, and being fully present in the moment are all you need. An improvisation workshop will help you to tap into your creative side. It will give you the opportunity to communicate fully with those around you. But you need to be OK with letting go, and trusting the process.

I believe that improvisation helps leaders to communicate in a way that is not taught at business school. Yet the soft skills that you will pick up from doing and improvisation workshop will be valuable to your professional development.

You will leave with a greater sense of self, of others. You will have experienced techniques and activities that are alien to you, and that’s a good thing!

Perhaps you may even exit the class wondering where improvisation has been all your career, or how you can share it with your team!

For many people, the thought of participating in an improvisational workshop is terrifying. And that is exactly why I decided to give it ago. It scared me!

I now encourage those who I mentor to become professional speakers, to attend an improvisation class.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable has been my personal mantra ever since I began my professional speaking career.

Why do we feel uncomfortable?

One of the reasons why an improvisation class makes us feel like we want to run for cover, is that we fear ‘letting go’ or being less than perfect.

We can become conditioned to overthink, overanalyse and generally stifle our creative energy. This goes for our communication style too. Most of us are guilty of – listening to respond, of being less than fully present, trying hard to create a good first impression and worrying what others think of us.

What is Playback Theatre?

According to the International Playback Theatre Network

Playback Theatre is an interactive form of improvisational theatre in which audience members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. Founded in 1975 by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, it has spread around the globe and Playback companies now exist on six continents.

Improvisation is a beautiful experience that gradually allows you to unravel. You learn to let go of ‘what’s next’, and have the chance to simply ‘be’.

I have been a member of Perth Playback Theatre for five years. The Company host workshops, rehearsals, community events, and performances for individuals, corporates and not for profit organisations.

So how does improvisation help leaders to communicate?

Three Reasons why Improvisation Helps Leaders to Communicate

#1 Trust

The central pillar of improvisation is trust. You are never alone when you are on stage as part of an improvised scene. The most common set up for each ‘scene’ is four people on stage, a musician and a conductor. The conductor is like a facilitator and is the one who speaks with the ‘teller’ to help them share their story.

You are with people who are your cheer squad, we have one another’s back 100% of the time. Improvisation teaches us that we can intuitively trust that what we offer at that exact moment is what is needed. It’s as much about trust in self as it is in others.

Trust is essential for us to reach our full potential as a leader. Improvisation is a great way to experience the balance between leading and following, and to align your communication with others. The ‘yes, and’ principle is useful to enhance any communication and relationship as well as a way to flex your growth mindset.

#2 Listen Fully

The aim of the improvised scene is to recreate a story in a way that accurately reflects the teller’s version. To do this requires intensive a full listening.

As the teller is sharing their story, the improvisation team listen to the story on multiple levels. The words that are spoken, and the unspoken meaning behind the words are equally as important for the interpretation of the story.

What’s not said and is conveyed instead through nonverbal communication is very much part of the story. We listen with our ears, eyes, and hearts, and during that period of intense listening, we are 100% focussed. Something many leaders cannot claim to be.

In the early days of learning improvisation, it can be hard to do this, as your mind wanders, thinking about what technique you will use when it is time to ‘play back’ the story. With time and trust in yourself and your fellow actors, this feeling goes and an incredible stillness and deep listening becomes apparent.

#3 Being OK with Mistakes

There are no real mistakes in improvisation. None of the actors knows exactly what others will offer – although after time we get to know one another’s style and strengths.

We really have no idea what comes next and to fully experience the joy of improvisation we have to be OK with that. I believe that our fear of failure stamps out many of our ideas before they get a chance to fly.

Sometimes, all we need is to have the courage to try. This applies to all areas of life. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, grow and improve for next time. No one wins when we beat ourselves up over our mistakes.

Want to know what a typical rehearsal is like?

Here is a short video of Perth Playback Theatre in action during an Open Rehearsal, filmed by Louisa Mitchell.

The next open rehearsal dates for Perth Playback Theatre can be found here . There is no coast to come along, all you need to do is register.

The space created by the members is safe and nurturing. What’s said at Playback stays at Playback is our guide. You will experience connection on another level, and you will be mesmerised by the stories, and the way those stories are performed.

As a professional speaker, I have learned so much from learning improvisation . I have become comfortable with letting go of expectations, less concerned with ‘getting it right’ and more effortless in my movements.

If you would like to find out more about improv and Perth Playback Theatre, contact Arlene Quinn who is the Director of Perth Playback or myself Marketing Director of Perth Playback Theatre.


About the Author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

Whether you have a hidden story of your feet, or you want to nail your next presentation, I can help you.

My services include: 

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.