Show Notes

Amplify Your Authority
Amplify Your Authority
Episode #92 Where the Art of Story Meets the Business of Persuasion with Kelly Swanson


Hearing firsthand accounts of personal growth or overcoming challenges deeply impacts any audience.

This approach is equally effective in the business world. Companies often showcase customer success stories, tapping into the motivational potential of these narratives to inspire action and build trust with their audience.

Today, I am pleased to introduce Kelly Swanson, a celebrated storyteller. Kelly has dedicated her life to mastering the craft of storytelling. She witnessed its profound effect on audiences and personal life.

If you’re a public speaker, marketing professional, or someone seeking to enhance your storytelling techniques, this episode is packed with practical tips to improve your storytelling skills.


In This Podcast Episode, We Discussed:

  • The Transformational Power of Storytelling: Discover how Kelly used storytelling to overcome a difficult childhood and how it became her foundation for empowerment and motivation.
  • Creating Emotional Engagement: Understand the importance of clearly showing a before and after story to engage and connect with the audience emotionally.
  • Storytelling in Marketing: Stories can differentiate your brand and create a human connection that drives sales, with practical tips on incorporating storytelling across various marketing platforms like email campaigns, webinars, and social media.
  • Personal Stories Make a Difference: Discover why personal and customer stories are crucial for humanizing your brand and building trust with your audience.
  • Avoid Common Pitfalls: Kelly shares advice on how to avoid common storytelling mistakes, such as rambling or lacking a clear structure, and emphasizes the importance of understanding the purpose and intent of your story.


Episode Key Takeaways

  • Building Trust and Connection in Sales: Kelly explains why people buy from those they like, trust, and feel connected to and how stories can effortlessly bridge that gap in sales and marketing.
  • Storytelling Across Marketing Channels: Get practical advice on incorporating storytelling to engage buyers authentically and effectively.
  • Humor with a Purpose: Understand the delicate balance of humor in marketing, aiming for fun and warmth rather than forced comedy, to foster a genuine connection with your audience.


Quotes to Remember

“Storytelling is not just about the plot, it’s about the emotions felt by the characters and the audience’s ability to relate to those emotions.” – Kelly Swanson.
“The most important story every business should tell is their ‘why story,’ emphasizing personal significance and the brand’s values.” – Kelly Swanson.
“Stories help in selling products and services by providing context and creating a human connection.” – Kelly Swanson.
“It’s not about having the best story, but the right story that matters to those who need to hear it.” – Kelly Swanson.


Your Action Step

Kelly shares information about her free community, the Story Impact Network, a supportive space where you can dive deeper into storytelling techniques and monthly themed conversations.


About Kelly Swanson

Kelly SwansonKelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, hall-of-fame inspirational speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, and cast member of The Fashion Hero television show, which airs on Amazon Prime. She is also the author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale, The Land of If Only, The Story Formula, and The Affirmation Journal for Positive Thinking.

She was a featured entertainer for Holland America Cruise Lines, keynote speaker for the International Toastmasters Convention, and has keynoted major conferences and corporate events from coast to coast. She recently launched her one-woman show Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale in theaters and is being booked all over the country. In July of 2022, she was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame. In early 2024, Kelly will launch her second theater show, A Tribute to Prides Hollow.

Kelly’s wacky wit and powerful stories have charmed hearts and tickled funny bones for over 20 years. In addition to her role as a funny motivational speaker, Kelly teaches people how she does it by sharing what she has learned about connecting and engaging to have more influence in business through the use of one tool – strategic storytelling.

Sharing her powerful journey through story and the formula she discovered, she brings you to that magical place where the art of story meets the business of persuasion.


Contact Kelly

Story Impact Network:


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Podcast Transcript

Marisa Shadrick [00:00:13]:
Welcome everyone to Amplify Your Authority Podcast. I’m Marissa Shadrick. I’m an online marketing consultant and certified copywriter, and I’ve got an amazing treat for you today. Kelly Swanson is with us. Let me tell you a little bit about Kelly, but I’ll tell you it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Kelly Swanson is an award winning storyteller, comedian, hall of fame, inspirational speaker, Huffington Post contributor, and cast member of the fashion hero television show airing on Amazon Prime. She is also the author of who hijacked my fairy tale, the land of if only, the story formula, and the affirmation journal for positive thinking. I am just so thrilled to have Kelly with us today.

Marisa Shadrick [00:00:59]:
Welcome, Kelly.

Kelly Swanson [00:01:01]:
After all that, no wonder I’m so tired.

Marisa Shadrick [00:01:05]:
For sure. And that’s just a little bit. I mean, you are an active lady and I as far as storytelling, whenever I think of the word storytelling, I think of you. And sometimes when I’m even writing stories, I think in my head, what would Kelly say?

Kelly Swanson [00:01:20]:
That’s great. It’s nice when you can be known for for your area of expertise. It makes me

Marisa Shadrick [00:01:25]:
feel Absolutely.

Kelly Swanson [00:01:27]:
I’ve just lived in the world of story. I’ve been studying it for so long. I’ve watched it change lives. I’ve watched it change my own life. I’m just a huge fan and very honored to be here today and, share, just a little bit of what I know with your audience.

Marisa Shadrick [00:01:42]:
Absolutely. So, Kelly, for the sake of those that maybe, maybe don’t know you, can you give us just a background how you got into storytelling? How did that all begin?

Kelly Swanson [00:01:53]:
Well, that’s a loaded question. I’m gonna try to answer it quickly. If you go all the way back to my childhood, I I was a picked on kid, a bullied kid. And I always tell people that because my world was sort of toxic, if you will, I escaped into the world of make believe. And I wrote a news I had imaginary friends and, you know, in my life, maybe some of y’all did too. And that sounds weird, but now looking back, I can see exactly what I was doing. I was writing a new story to live in, and it’s just as real as any story, you’re writing to live in. And so that’s was my first foray into story was actually using it to to change the way I showed up in the world.

Kelly Swanson [00:02:37]:
Now fast forward, these characters in my head tumbled out onto paper, and it became my art. And I fell in love with just pure storytelling. And they would delight me and tap me on the shoulders and make me laugh. And they were stories about ordinary people that would do extraordinary things. That was always the theme. And then fast forward after college, I majored in English because I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t very career, driven, if that makes sense. Just wanna get married and have kids.

Kelly Swanson [00:03:09]:
But, I took a writing class in a at a community college after I graduated. A bunch of teachers were taking it, and we had to share our stories with the class. I was kinda like, oh, they got to share it out loud. Oh, this is vulnerable. And it was the class was full of teachers. And they said, we like your story, but the way you tell it is even better. Would you come to our schools? And so I started going to schools, telling stories, and then quickly realized that I wasn’t speaking to the children. I was speaking to the adults in the back of the room.

Kelly Swanson [00:03:41]:
They were resonating. They were laughing in all the right places. And then at one point so I became a professional storyteller, and that’s hard, you know, trying to find places to book me to tell stories. And at one point, a woman came up to me and said, do you realize what your stories are doing for people? I was like, what do you mean? I thought I was just making them laugh and feel she was like, you’re they’re empowering people. They’re they’re taking them on a journey. They’re your stories are so much more than you realize. You are motivating people to change and think about their lives differently. And then when I met Jeanne Robertson, who was a legend in our speaking business, she said, you need to be a speaker.

Kelly Swanson [00:04:19]:
And this is the world where you can tell your tell your stories and then quickly, you didn’t know it’s gonna be such a long way to question. I’m almost done. Quickly, what happened was that was 20 years ago. People would start immediately. Other speakers would say, oh, my gosh, how do you tell a story like that? What are you doing? Why are they eating out of the palm of your hand? How are you making people cry and laugh? And why is it that you’re the one they called back for the conference a second time and not me? And I was like, it’s the story. It’s all about the story. So I began to look at stepping into other people’s lives. And, well, how do I help you tell your story and find your voice in a way that’s authentic for you.

Kelly Swanson [00:05:00]:
And that path has led me to where I am today, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Marisa Shadrick [00:05:05]:
I bet. I bet. Story is powerful. And in copywriting, story is important. And our marketing story is important. But people aren’t always they don’t really get the connection of story. What is it about story that is so compelling and draws people in? What is it about story?

Kelly Swanson [00:05:22]:
And there are so many things, Marissa, that are that that makes story valuable. And its its application is so broad that it’s even hard to answer it quickly. But I will try. It’s compelling. A story is compelling, and it’s entertaining. They’re telling us in the speaking industry or our audience has the attention span of a gnat, like, 4 seconds, that their attention span is short. They’re telling us that in business meetings. Your you gotta get their attention quickly and keep it.

Kelly Swanson [00:05:51]:
So they tell us that we have a very short attention span when we’re in our meeting. Yet when we get home, we turn on Netflix and we will watch hours of a guy with a mullet and a tiger. We will binge watch our shows to no end. We will stay suspended and engaged in a story much longer than we will in information. So it it it it’s first of all, it’s just engaging, entertaining when done well, and compelling. My audience doesn’t check out during the story ever. It’s when I get to the blah blah blah blah blah blah blah part. It’s compelling.

Kelly Swanson [00:06:27]:
It is I I always say, oh, I got a I got a story. Can I explain it through a little story if I may?

Marisa Shadrick [00:06:35]:
Sure. That would be wonderful.

Kelly Swanson [00:06:37]:
I I got an award in our speakers industry or or association, and it was a really big award. And my best friend was there, and she wanted to give me a present to commemorate the event and this time in my life. And so she hands me this little box, Marissa, and I open it up and there’s a pair of earrings in there. Now I’m all about bling and earrings and jewelry. But these were the ugliest pair of earrings I’ve ever had. They were like plastic and chunky and green and bloat. Now I like my chunk, but there were clip ons. I don’t even wear clip ons.

Kelly Swanson [00:07:08]:
They look like something my grandmama would have worn to Bible study, and one was broken. And being the the southern woman that I am, I squealed in delight and told her how much I loved it. She busted out laughing. And she said, Swanson, I know you’re not gonna wear those earrings anywhere. She said, but you need to know the the the story behind these earrings. She said they’re not expensive. She said I paid more to ship them than I actually paid for them. So they’re not real stones or anything like that.

Kelly Swanson [00:07:36]:
She said yes, I know one’s broken. And she said, but these earrings belong to your mentor, Jeannie Robertson, who discovered you 20 years ago in the speaking business and changed your life. And she said, and I know how bittersweet it is for you to stand up on that stage tonight knowing Jeannie didn’t live long enough to see you, her mentee, inducted into the speaker hall of fame. And she said, so I thought that having these earrings here would help you feel like she’s with you in spirit. And she said, I know you probably won’t wear them, but you can do with your creativity. She said, I know you’ll do something with them that will make them extra special. Now she was wrong about that part because I didn’t need Marissa to go do something with them to make them special. In that one moment, a cheap pair of earrings I would never wore or saw no value in have had become my one of my most prized possessions.

Kelly Swanson [00:08:33]:
Not for the sum of its parts, but for the story behind it. And that is how I look at story and try to explain it to my audience and to my clients is that you have a message. You have something you’re sharing with the world, selling to the world, whatever your mode of persuasion or influence. Are you just selling me a pair of earrings? Or are you wrapping it in story? Because the story is what gives it meaning. Story gives our life meaning, The stories we write about our life, stories give our product meaning, stories give your brand meaning, and when you can do that, you have much deeper influence than you did before. So, did I there’s other ways I could say one other thing I wanna say is stories give it context. Yes. Well, back to meaning.

Kelly Swanson [00:09:24]:
When you sell, you don’t sell me something. You sell me the transformation it brings in my own life. Mhmm. You sell me the story of what this is gonna look like if I have your service, if I have your product. But sometimes you sell something or in your industry, you speak a language people don’t speak. And I don’t mean, like, a foreign language. I mean, industry speak. Let’s say you’re in tech and you speak a whole financial planners have a topic.

Kelly Swanson [00:09:50]:
Doctors might have to explain something that the common per their common buyer doesn’t have that same language. Stories are a powerful tool to give context and meaning to what you’re trying to explain. That could be an analogy or, you know, a way of explaining it in a way that they can. It’s like if you compared how your computer works to how your refrigerator works, that’s what I’m talking about is when you’re able to take a story. The last thing I’ll say about stories and why they matter, though I could keep talking as you probably guessed. Stories allow your listener to test drive your truth. We’re all trying to persuade somebody, and there’s a difference in telling them what to do and making them wanna do it. When you tell a story the right way and you take me on a journey and your listener gets to experience this truth that you’re sharing, emotion and all.

Kelly Swanson [00:10:47]:
And that is much they test drive your truth. Just take my word for it. I can’t explain everything about how it happens on the this short of time. But that is a powerful thing you have to do. Yet so many of us in our world of noise and clutter and distractions and 4 second attention spans, we keep I do it sometimes myself. We keep reverting back to just give them the information, give them the data. I write an article and nobody reads it. I share a funny story about what happened to me on the subway, and it gets, you know, thousands of views because people tap into a story more than data and information.

Kelly Swanson [00:11:26]:
Yeah. There you go. That’s a lot.

Marisa Shadrick [00:11:28]:
I would think that it would also help in building the trust. Right? And the credibility. It’s people are so human. That’s a

Kelly Swanson [00:11:35]:
good one. That’s a good one. I I can’t believe I didn’t think to say that too. That is a good one because when we sell, the cardinal rule of sales is that people buy from people they like, trust, believe, and feel like they have. Yeah. And those 4, like, trust, believe, no, your information can’t do that. Your features and benefit, your data, it cannot do that. So how do we, in a short amount of time, allow someone to know us or to to create an opinion about us? How do we create rapport like a salesperson when they go into the room looks for something that they have in common? It’s the the idea that you need to humanize your brand and the person talking.

Kelly Swanson [00:12:14]:
Story shows us who you are without you having to tell us. It is the quickest way when you don’t have time to go get out on the golf course and build a relationship because it puts a human face. And what I love about it is when you’re doing it for that purpose, for allowing people to get to know you, just as I did in the opening here, It doesn’t matter what story you tell. Just as long as you I mean, we don’t want you rambling all over. But but as long as you take us into your life and give us a chance to get to know you, we aren’t grading on whether you picked the right information. And it’s beautiful when you create a human connection. And I think that’s that’s why everybody’s talking about authenticity these days. It is the human connection.

Kelly Swanson [00:13:00]:
Story is the bridge that connects human being to human being, and that’s powerful in the world of of influence.

Marisa Shadrick [00:13:07]:
I couldn’t agree more and it will differentiate you because nobody can duplicate your story. It’s unique. Right? Right.

Kelly Swanson [00:13:15]:
It’s unique experience. You’re exactly right, Marisa. I was just thinking of that to myself the other day. I was like, oh, well, what do I need to say? And somebody else has got my topic or you know, there’s so much competition. And I went, stop. Nobody can tell your story. That is the piece of your presentation, of your brand, of your marketing that no one can go copy and reproduce. It’s yours.

Kelly Swanson [00:13:40]:
So stick to the story. That’s a beautiful point.

Marisa Shadrick [00:13:43]:
So how would if somebody said, okay, I want to incorporate stories. Where do I begin? Do I begin about the brand story or the product story or some of the stories don’t seem that compelling? Where do I even start if I’ve never done storytelling?

Kelly Swanson [00:13:58]:
Okay. I’ve got a good answer for you, and you’re gonna have to remind me in case I forget your question because I wanna back it up. The first thing people need to understand is what is a story. And maybe we’ll go address that in a minute. I’ll let me answer the question you’ve asked is what because if you don’t understand it, any work you do after that is pointless if you’re not really understanding the tool. But when people say when I drop this boulder on them that they need to be using story, it’s powerful. It’s very overwhelming to them because they see all the places it can be used. And you need a strategy.

Kelly Swanson [00:14:35]:
You know, you need a Mhmm. To come up with a strategy of where can you use story? Is it in your meeting? Is it in your newsletter? Is it on social media? Is it in in a presentation? What I tell people is, let’s just start with the first one that I think is the most important story every business should tell. Even if you aren’t in sales or marketing, or you aren’t the ambassador of that brand, it’s a beautiful exercise to do even if you never share it with anybody. And I call it the why story. And y’all are probably thinking, oh, Simon Sinek Swat. No. I’m pretty sure mine is it’s a different angle on that. But I believe we all should have a story of why we do what we do and why it matters to us personally, to the brand or the company that we work for, and to the people that we serve.

Kelly Swanson [00:15:30]:
So when I’m helping people put together that story, we usually start with gathering that information. Well, what do you do? Why does it matter? Some people haven’t thought through fully because they’re in accounting. They don’t understand. You know, they haven’t put language around. Why do you do it? Why does it matter to you personally? Is it setting an example for your children? Is it because you know, why do you personally get this joy in your work? That’s why I don’t want everybody telling the same company story. I want you telling the story of your perspective. And then why does it matter to the brand? Because we at x y z believe in honesty and in tech, whatever, your Mhmm. Brand or the product and the people you serve.

Kelly Swanson [00:16:12]:
Why does it matter to them? How does it change their lives? Some people haven’t really thought all the way through into that piece of it. Now there’s not a story there yet. Okay? A story is is not a list of facts. Mhmm. But I but I want you to have that information because then I would say, take me to a time when you helped one of these customers. A moment that reminds you of why you chose to do this work and chose this company. And tell me, it can also be called a customer testimonial story in my eyes because what you’re really doing is you’re telling the story of one of your customers, but you’re weaving yourself and why this work matters to you and the joy you got being part of that, and why you love working for this company or this brand or started this business. And you’re weaving 3 stories together, yours, it, and theirs.

Kelly Swanson [00:17:12]:
Beautiful. And yeah. And I think if everybody had even if you’re a nurse, and you’ll never share that with anybody, but you can share it, you know, in the context of a company meeting or whatever. It’s just a beautiful thing to have. Yeah. I love that. Story I’d say to start with. And if you have that, you can put it in the sales presentation.

Kelly Swanson [00:17:30]:
You can put it on social media. You can put it in the demo. You can use it at the beginning of a speech or a presentation. You can use it. You might have to tweak it a little bit, but you can use it in many different ways to create that human connection that opens the door for them to wanna hear more. It humanizes you, humanizes your brand, and humanizes your customer because they will recognize themselves. If you tell the story correctly, they’ll see themselves in your in your story as well.

Marisa Shadrick [00:18:01]:
Yeah. That’s great for coaches too, because I serve a lot of coaches, and there’s a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing. And if you ask enough questions, you find out what that motivating reason was, and it’s usually a beautiful story there. And it it really, I think it empowers them too to put all these pieces together and realize why they’re so passionate about it. Because sometimes they just say I’m passionate about this. Well, why are you passionate about it? So I love that. The why story,

Kelly Swanson [00:18:29]:
her story. Are there any other Marissa Mhmm. When you when you are bringing out a client you helped in that story, you now have the amazing ability to drop nuggets into that story. My client was struggling with this. She felt that she couldn’t do this. She was afraid this might happen, and I loved being able to show her that boom, boom, boom. What a subtle way to show people how you work without bragging about it. It it allow it it it it’s a it’s also a huge benefit for coaches is because we could you could say that’s why I created the x y z system.

Kelly Swanson [00:19:06]:
She realized it’s not as hard as she thought it was gonna be. And you can kind of mirror your the client you’re trying to attract and sell to through that.

Marisa Shadrick [00:19:14]:
Love that because a lot of them, struggle with self promotion. And so this is a great way to just tell a story how you’re helping someone like a case study and weave that in. I love it. That’s great advice. So we have the why story. Is there another story as we’re breaking down what story is and how we can weave it in our marketing?

Kelly Swanson [00:19:32]:
It’s funny because I was just making a list. I’m even opening it up on my computer of the different types of stories, in sales. Uh-huh. And, I’m not gonna go into each one, but you’ll understand when I start to talk about it, your trust me story. You know, maybe the kind of story it’s kind of based on what you wanna accomplish. The why you need an expert story. The I understand where you’re coming from story, the explainer story, how something works and why it matters, the before and after story. You know, you could have a before and after.

Kelly Swanson [00:20:07]:
Let me show you the before and after with the people I worked with. The sense of urgency story. Here’s why you should act now. So, the here’s what’s wrong story that you may use to illustrate a problem with, you know, that your team is having. Again, I use story in a lot of broad applications, but that’s that that’s how you can kind of start to look at the different purposes that a story serves. I don’t teach story to people in theater. I mean, I could. I don’t teach how to write a good story on a stage.

Kelly Swanson [00:20:40]:
I teach how to tell a strategic story that persuades them to think, feel, or do something as a result. So I’m always looking at a story first before I even write it as what’s its intent? What is the purpose? What is the lesson of this story? So many people come to me with stories. And when I say, what’s the point? They can’t answer that because they haven’t fleshed it out fully. So before you even write a story, understand what you’re using it for. What do you want them to think, feel, or do as a result of hearing it? And what’s the point of this story that you’re telling me? Because if you can clarify, the reason I’m telling you this story is or the things I learned from that experience is that you can’t always do things on your own. You’ll save a lot more time and money by hiring an expert in the long run or whatever that may be.

Marisa Shadrick [00:21:38]:
Mhmm. That’s really key what you said, and it you kind of went really fast on that, but I wanna circle back to that, the intent and the strategy of the story. You really had me on that because strategy is so important. What do you want them to think? What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to believe? What do you want them to do? And really try to figure that out so you’re strategic and your story. And then what you’re Shadrick, really, a lot of this even in copy, which can be so dry, so, you see 1, you see them all because they use the same verbiage. Story can transform it where it doesn’t even look like a sales page.

Kelly Swanson [00:22:15]:
It’s just Oh, it is the letter you sent me

Marisa Shadrick [00:22:17]:

Kelly Swanson [00:22:18]:
Times I’ve started clicking the mail and realized, oh my god. They’re trying to sell me because it was so natural. Like, hey, Kelly. You gotta hear what happened to me the other day. And I’m like, what? What happened to you the other day? I wanna tag off of what you also said by saying story simply illustrates the point you wanna make. You all have a point you wanna make, a lesson, a talking point, advice you wanna give. Story is just going, when you were like, where do we even begin? Story is just where do we see this illustrated in real life? Let’s put a human base on this.

Marisa Shadrick [00:22:54]:
Yeah. Very good. Love it. So on the flip side, what are some mistakes that you see people make when they’re telling stories?

Kelly Swanson [00:23:05]:
They just tell it and then ramble until they get to the end of it. You need stories are strategic. It is a tool. You need to spend as much time on it as you do your web copy or anything else. It lacks structure. Mhmm. The biggest well, the first mistake I see is that people don’t really understand why they’re telling me. So we’re all going, what was the point of that? Why’d you just tell me that? They didn’t understand it or maybe they did.

Kelly Swanson [00:23:29]:
They just didn’t verbalize So that having a point is a pretty big one. The other thing is they just start into the story that just keeps going. And we needed to know at the front end where we where they were going with that. So, a little context at the opening of your story. You know, there are 3 things I learned as a leader. The first one I learned when I was 16, and you go into that story. Another mistake is they just don’t have the structure. A story isn’t a list of facts.

Kelly Swanson [00:24:00]:
It is about something that happened. That sounds basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many stories I see where I go, what? Nothing what happened? There’s a before and an after. You know, before this happened, here was what whatever my life looked like, then this happened. And then we fixed it in this way. It was resolved. And so here’s my new normal. I’m making it very basic. It needs that I hear so many stories that I went, wait a minute, you left at your car crash.

Kelly Swanson [00:24:35]:
You know, that’s like turning it off in the middle of a Lifetime movie. I didn’t I wanted to hear the rest. We want the full arc of what journey this you or whatever character went through. Another key piece to that is emotion. Don’t just tell me what happened. Tell me how it made that character feel. And the reason how it felt before life is great, how it felt to all of a sudden it comes crashing down or this problem enters or maybe it’s a desire. You know, it’s not always pain, avoidance, or, you know, it could be a desire you want and how it made you feel to have it.

Kelly Swanson [00:25:11]:
I was frustrated. I was lonely. I didn’t know how I was gonna whatever. And then it’s resolved. Oh, I realized. Boom. I saw that I needed this. Boom.

Kelly Swanson [00:25:20]:
I was so excited to finally have a solution. Whatever. Boom. And now look at me 2 years later. I call that a victory moment or happy ever after. Look at me now. Now I’m living on this new normal. Now I’m using this this product or this service, and life is good and look at me now.

Kelly Swanson [00:25:37]:
We connect not based on plot in a story because none of us are ever going to really truly be able to relate to what happened to you. We connect on emotion. So when we hear you naming those emotions at different points in your story, Our brain goes searching through its database for when it had that a similar type of emotion. That’s where we’re really connecting as human beings. And then I’m standing in my story at the same time as I’m standing in yours. And that is a really cool place. When I’m in my theater show and I’m talking about something awful that happened to me in college and how I let that guy write my story and maybe you did too and maybe you’re carrying that pig around and and you’ve let somebody else, you know, and I felt like a happy ever after wasn’t for me. I felt not good enough.

Kelly Swanson [00:26:25]:
I felt like the girl who’s never picked whatever. My audience, Marisa Yeah. They’re not just in their in my story anymore. They’re in theirs. And that’s when a minute ago when I said they get to test drive the truth. So when I get to victory, when I put the pig down, when I take the pen back and write my own story, when I embrace the weirdness in me and realize it’s actually good, They feel that victory for themselves. Now this is gonna get deep.

Marisa Shadrick [00:26:52]:
That’s good.

Kelly Swanson [00:26:53]:
Feel a victory they’ve never felt in their own lives. Yeah. That is the power that story has in your work to do what just giving them the information could never

Marisa Shadrick [00:27:13]:
sometimes you see people nodding their head because they can relate,

Kelly Swanson [00:27:16]:

Marisa Shadrick [00:27:16]:
They can relate to that. And I love what you said about setting it up too, because I know when I’ve heard you speak, I know exactly where we’re headed. You don’t have me guessing or figuring out where is this going or how long is this gonna be or what’s the gonna be the point. You set it up beautifully and I’m pulled in and I am thinking of my own scenarios. I’m hearing the story but literally, you feel like a little kilot just wants to sit on the floor there and just listen. Right? Because you get pulled into the story.

Kelly Swanson [00:27:44]:
Really, that stories are so powerful. They just they’re compelling when done right. Mhmm. We’ve also heard when stories are all over the place or when they don’t get to a point I mean, not every story is created equal. It is important. And that’s where I also see people making a mistake, especially in the speaking industry or in giving presentations is they just think that they can tell it, and it already sounds good. And, and and that’s not the case. You really need to work on it.

Kelly Swanson [00:28:18]:
And a lot of times when you’re inside your own story, this weird thing happens. You know everything in this story. But what you don’t realize is you may not be telling me everything.

Marisa Shadrick [00:28:30]:

Kelly Swanson [00:28:30]:
So I can be sitting there. I love sitting like in the director’s chair and hearing your story and going, okay. But I don’t understand how you got from there to there. And they’re like, oh, I didn’t tell you. No. You didn’t tell me. Or or, you know, there’s a lot we can’t see standing inside our own story that it’s always it’s often often helpful to have somebody on the outside, same as I’m sure with with writing copy. Mhmm.

Kelly Swanson [00:28:56]:
Because we can see a clarity. We can we’re your audience and can see what what our brain craves to hear more of or what we felt was left out. It’s just when you’re real close to it, it’s hard to see it. And same thing for writing your own copy. I get so close to it. I don’t have any kind of objectivity anymore writing

Marisa Shadrick [00:29:15]:
about myself. And we don’t want those gaps. We don’t wanna make them work to understand what we’re saying or leave them without closure. Even a movie, if I don’t have closure at the end, I’m like, but what happened to that character? What happened here? And I don’t feel satisfied at the end. I feel a little angry. So

Kelly Swanson [00:29:33]:
Right. Even in movies and shows and I mean, they’re still taking us on a journey. They are also strategic. They have a purpose. You know, they they wanna they they’ve got a message to give you. It’s, you know, it’s the same it’s the same thing. And we don’t want to I’m sure in your marketing, when you’re talking to people, a lot of the language comes up. We don’t wanna confuse the buyer.

Kelly Swanson [00:29:55]:
That’s one thing I’m really guilty of is we don’t wanna confuse the buyer. Mhmm. And the same thing, you could apply that to a story. We don’t wanna confuse your buyer. We want every we want also, you want the story to have a clear, tight path. I’m like, I don’t need to know what happened to your second cousin’s hairdressers, mama down the street. No. Just say it happened to your cousin and call it a day because I need I need you to take the shortest path.

Kelly Swanson [00:30:20]:
I don’t need all the details. I need the important ones and some for flavor.

Marisa Shadrick [00:30:26]:
How do you feel about dialogue? Is dialogue good to have or not? Or

Kelly Swanson [00:30:31]:
Okay. I don’t like dialogue. I don’t like doing it. It’s hard. Mhmm. I don’t like how it comes across sometimes because it looks like you’re in a skit.

Marisa Shadrick [00:30:41]:
Mhmm. And what And sometimes it’s not delivered very well either.

Kelly Swanson [00:30:45]:
No. Or or people will start a presentation with dialogue. Hark. I said, I’m like, well, first of all, you wouldn’t say heart in a conversation. And what are you doing? So where I try to get people in the the right mindset for this to help you make those decisions about dialogue or not is stories like speeches, like presentations, like perhaps even web copy, maybe even books these days or or nonfiction books. They’re conversations we’re having with somebody. So if you wouldn’t talk that way in a conversation, then don’t do it that way in your presentation or in your story. I am constantly writing the way I talk and trying to talk.

Kelly Swanson [00:31:33]:
I clean it up, and I make it more poetic and drama dramatic. But if you wouldn’t tell somebody a story across the couch from you holding a glass of wine, you would never turn and go into dialogue. You just wouldn’t do that. However, when you’re telling a story to your friends, you’re like, oh, and then my mama called and she’s like, girl, you have got to go see what’s what’s on sale at Walmart. Okay. See, I’m in dialogue there. It’s very natural. Yeah.

Kelly Swanson [00:32:00]:
Because I’m I’m trying to do this when I practice my stories and my speeches and presentations or whatever, I practice like I’m telling somebody at my kitchen table. And and that’s how I try to gauge myself. Yeah. Yeah. That’s good.

Marisa Shadrick [00:32:15]:
Would it be something that you would naturally do if you’re talking to somebody face to face? You know, that’s a good kind of rule of thumb too. So in marketing, specifically, with all the buzz, I mean, we’re in a new normal now with AI, and everybody believes that AI is the panacea for all marketing. Do you see the future of storytelling going to be even dwindle even more? Or because so many people rely on AI to produce at least marketing content online.

Kelly Swanson [00:32:47]:
And I And I do too. AI is a wonderful tool for me to go, hey. I wrote this LinkedIn description. Do you like it? And AI writes it much better. And I’m like, oh, I like that one much better. And I’ve got no problem using it in that regard and using it for research and using it to help me find and craft and say ideas in a different way. I like that because sometimes I’m so in my head about describing something that I might not be describing it in a way you’re gonna understand about story and chat words it differently. Of course, the rewriting tool is nothing new.

Kelly Swanson [00:33:22]:
Those were you could plug in articles years ago and get them rewritten. Now that being said, I asked AI to write a story for me because I started to wonder, was I gonna be replaced by AI? And I asked it to write a story, and I have done it several times since. And I don’t like the story it writes. It’s not me. It’s not conversational. It sounds robotic. It’s and I thought, oh, okay. I’m good here.

Kelly Swanson [00:33:51]:
It cannot write stories for me. It can’t write poetry. It can’t there is still something about it that doesn’t have you if you’ve ever gotten I tried to get AI. They’ve got these videos now where AI you can plug in the script and get an AI character to say it. Mhmm. And it didn’t feel there was something about it that didn’t feel real. So I don’t I don’t think we’re even scratching the surface in what AI can do. Like any tool, I’m gonna want it to help me.

Kelly Swanson [00:34:23]:
How is this gonna help me Right. Further my business, and I’m seeing many ways that it can. And, yes, it is going to replace I no longer need somebody to splice videos for me and add captions because AI can do it. And now I can do it for free. I didn’t hire a graphic illustrator recently for a children’s book because now I got night cafe. I could do those myself for free. So it’s going to radically change, what we do, and I don’t think we’ve even realized to what degree. Mhmm.

Kelly Swanson [00:34:57]:
But that’s kinda discouraging. We certainly don’t wanna leave on that note.

Marisa Shadrick [00:35:02]:
But on the upside, if somebody hasn’t incorporated stories in their marketing, I would think that they could begin even in email campaigns if they’re sending out emails, or even in an opening of a master class. There’s webinars that people do. And definitely on any type of sales pages or opt in pages for free resources. I would think on an about page maybe on their website. Are those some places that they can use for your version?

Kelly Swanson [00:35:32]:
You’re going to talk to your buyer or potential buyer. Is an opportunity for you to engage them with a story. Yes. In your newsletter is a great idea. I’m seeing people do that all the time and it’s it’s more it catches my attention more than those traditional looking sales y or newsletter y, looking things. I like it in a demo video about your product on your website. You know? Hey. I’m you know, you’re putting a human face on your brand in social media.

Kelly Swanson [00:36:03]:
I mean, it’s the stories, the funny stories. If you have a product well, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re selling or marketing. Okay? If you’ve got somebody who uses it, you’ve got a story. Mhmm. So, like, I’ve talked to wedding planners recently. Go tell a story every time you leave one of your weddings. Now don’t tell the whole story about all the wedding.

Kelly Swanson [00:36:25]:
Get strategic. Maybe in this story, you really wanna emphasize how much attention you pay to detail. So you’re gonna craft a story about the the bows on the chairs or whatever, and and go put it on social media. I don’t know why more people aren’t doing well, me included, but I don’t know why more people aren’t doing that on social media is, hey, we just did this. Look how fun it turned out. Tell the story of the job you just did, but do it strategically, how it felt for you to be part of it, what joy you got, why you like working for this company because it allows, you know, you plug yourself, plug your company, but it’s just, and you can do that in just a minute or 2. You can do it in a picture. O m g.

Kelly Swanson [00:37:11]:
Look how cute the flowers were at this wedding. You know? Give us a call. You could tell a story with a picture. Yeah. And and I am definitely and I’m sure you notice. I’m a little slow to the social media party. When I write an article, nobody pays attention. Or very few.

Kelly Swanson [00:37:28]:
Some do. When I post the wallpaper in a hallway being Pac Man at a hotel at OMG, look at this. Or when a funny picture would say, somebody write a caption. People are engaging more way, way more. And that’s all you’re doing is you’re taking them into your your story or the story of your customers or your, the story, you’re taking them into the stories of your company. I just, I think it’s a beautiful thing. And there’s, that’s what’s so overwhelming, Marissa, is it can be used in so many places. That’s why you kind of sit down and go, well, okay, where do we use it first, just pick one thing or you’ve got one thing coming up where you have an opportunity to influence or talk to your people.

Kelly Swanson [00:38:13]:
Start it off with a little story.

Marisa Shadrick [00:38:15]:
Love it. Love it. So I can’t believe all this time has gone by already. I I could continue to ask you questions. How’s if somebody is really intrigued about this, I’m gonna have a few other questions. I’m gonna ask you rapid fire questions. But how can they get in touch with you? What’s what’s a way that they can get in touch with you?

Kelly Swanson [00:38:34]:
Well, I’m everywhere. But the way I wish you would get in touch with me, because I can give you more attention. Mhmm. Is, you can find me on all the other channels, but I would love for your people to go to story That’s a free community. And if you ask me a question, if you talk to me, I will hear it. It is not the clutter of Facebook and LinkedIn and overwhelm. It’s a community of people who love stories.

Kelly Swanson [00:39:03]:
And, Marissa, when if you go to that you’re in that community, Marissa. If you go to that community and you look over to the side, I want you to notice 2 things, resources, because there are a whole bunch of resources for you at your fingertips. No charge. And then I want you to look at story studio registrations because I set up every month chats where just like this, you can join me. Well, it’s not an interview. And we give them different themes, wedding planners, stories in sales, you know, funny bone is one coming up is being funny in stories. And we just have a conversation and I talk to you. It’s just a good way to continue the conversation in a very informal low pressure kind of a way.

Kelly Swanson [00:39:47]:
So when you’re free gift, be sure to check that out too and join me on one of those.

Marisa Shadrick [00:39:51]:
There there are wonderful. I’m gonna have you repeat that at the end because you said something about humor. We didn’t even touch on humor. Any comment about humor? Should we try to be funny, not funny?

Kelly Swanson [00:40:02]:
Don’t try to be funny if you’re not trying to be funny.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:05]:
Yeah. For sure.

Kelly Swanson [00:40:06]:
And humor is something you have to work at.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:10]:
It’s hard.

Kelly Swanson [00:40:11]:
Don’t do it flippantly. Yeah. Especially when you’re putting it in your marketing and you’re representing your brand, you need to be very, very careful or fall more on really clean, cutesy. But but I would say just focus on fun. Yeah. Focus on fun instead of trying to find a joke. Mhmm. Because if you if if they laugh or smile, you still sort of get that same warm connection you wanted.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:38]:
Yeah. So let me ask you a quick question so people get to know you a little better. What is your favorite food?

Kelly Swanson [00:40:46]:
Oh, that’s hard. I love food. Steak.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:49]:
Steak. Okay. Awesome.

Kelly Swanson [00:40:50]:
What’s your favorite? In front of mine because it’s so expensive, so I don’t buy it much anymore.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:56]:
What is your favorite color?

Kelly Swanson [00:41:00]:
Sage. Oh, very nice. I would say black, but black is not technically a color. I wear black all the time. But I like that.

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:08]:
Now, I know you love Jeanie Robertson. And she probably has a lot of great quotes. But is there a book or a quote that that is your go to that you love? Well, no.

Kelly Swanson [00:41:22]:
But I wrote one this morning that I still believe in. So I’ll just go with what’s front of mind. If you can’t look in the mirror and love who you see, neither will

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:32]:
they. Oh, beautiful. What a great way to end this interview. So give them again, the the resource, the opportunity to join your community. What is that URL again?

Kelly Swanson [00:41:44]:
Sure. It’s

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:48]:, and it will be in the show notes. So those of you that want to jump on board and check it out, Kelly just she has just shared a drop in the bucket. She has just got so much wisdom when it comes to storytelling. She’s a pretty savvy lady, so you will definitely enjoy that community. Kelly, thank you so much for being on the show. Any last words for everyone before we say goodbye?

Kelly Swanson [00:42:13]:
I just wanna tell everybody listening not to be overwhelmed, because even doing it a little bit will have a massive difference. And I wanna say this to people who think their story is not good enough or big enough. It’s not about having the best story. It’s about just having the the right story. And your story matters to the one who needs to hear it.

Marisa Shadrick [00:42:38]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Beautiful. Thank you, Kelly. I appreciate it so much. And thank you everybody for chiming in and listening. I know you got lots of value. Until next time, take care.

Marisa Shadrick [00:42:50]:
Bye bye.

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