This week on the podcast I have a special guest with me, Stephanie Paul, who's spending time with me to talk about the importance of communication and even more importantly, the value of storytelling and other tips on being memorable in your communication. Her coaching draws on brain science, and I know you'll appreciate that!
Storytelling is something we've touched on previous episodes, and I know that you are very much aware of it because it's talked about quite regularly. There are many conversations about the power of storytelling, because our human brains are wired for story.
You'll hear from Stephanie about why it is that case and how we can really use and leverage that for our leadership skills for leading ourselves for leading others.
So here we go with the episode, all about storytelling and communication.
Resources mentioned in the show
- Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn
- Get Stephanie's free resource
- Stephanie's book: Unlock the Magic of Story: How to Use Neuroscience Secrets to Engage and Influence Any Audience (affiliate link)
Liz: Well, Hey there, friends and welcome back to the show. This week, I have a special guest with me, Stephanie Paul, and we're going to spend time talking about the importance of communication and even more importantly, the value of storytelling. As well as other than the little tips and tricks on being memorable in your communication. Now, this is something we've touched on on previous episodes. And I know that you are very much aware of it because it's talked about quite regularly, just about everywhere. There's discussions about leadership, career, anything around these topics. And that is the power of story. Our human brains are wired for story. And as you're about to hear more from Stephanie about why it is that case and how we can really use and leverage that four hours leadership skills for leading ourselves for leading others.
So here we go with the episode, we're going to hear from Stephanie all about storytelling and communication. Well, Hey there, I'm Liz St. Jean, and this is the unruly leadership podcast where I help subject matter experts. Like you design a career on your terms. It's where strategy meets intuition to help you break the rules, ignore the rules and make your own damn rules. So let's break free from perfectionism, imposter thoughts, and that inner rule.
Keep that's keeping you in your career comfort zone. it's time to become unapologetically you and step into the life you were meant to live. We're going to talk presence, productivity career, and having it all. Or as my four year old would say, we're going to take over the world. So let's get to it.
So Stephanie is the author of Unlock The Magic of Story, How to Use Neuroscience Secrets to Engage and Influence Any Audience. Now, Stephanie Trains and Coaches, executives, sales teams, TEDx speakers, women in Leadership, and experts of all kinds to become master communicators. And she really believes that if your presence doesn't make an impact, then your absence won't make a difference.
Mm-hmm. , welcome to this show, Stephanie. I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you so much.
Stephanie: It's wonderful to be here.
Liz: Yeah. So I'd love to jump right in and learn about your story around how you got into leadership and communication coaching, because I know it's not a usual one.
Stephanie: Um, yeah, and I've got an unusual background for, I suppose you could say, the competitors in my market, I Had 20 to 25 years experience in the entertainment industry. So I started performing at a very young age. By the age of four I was doing ballet dancing, and by the age of 10 I was doing drama classes. So by the time I was 16, I was professionally shooting commercials. I had the opportunity to travel around the world. I basically came home and told my parents I was moving to Italy when I was 18. And, um, that was through a modeling contract. And then eventually I settled to New York.
Met my ex-husband, decided to go into the acting field. And when I wasn't on stage or on camera, I was always in the background producing, directing or doing some kind of production work. So I have a very holistic understanding of the whole film and television industry. And, um, then when I moved out to Los Angeles, I decided I wanted to differentiate myself.
So I became a standup comedian and did that for 10 years. I was teaching at a local theater, and one of my students was a professor from Chapman University and he said to me, You know, you should take this into the corporate world. And I went, don't be ridiculous. I was like, What can, what, what do I know about the corporate world?
Then there was an article written about me in a local newspaper because they thought it was cool that I play the president of the United States in two sci-fi comedy films. And they thought it was just cool that a woman from New Zealand was local, and they did this article on me and I had my first two clients. They came out of the woodwork and said, Can you help me with this? And so I started my journey as a coach and a trainer and I got business coaches and mentors and joined, um, peer groups and all that kind of stuff.
And most of my clients come from tech and biotech industries. And I knew that I couldn't approach tech or biotech industries and sort of say, you know, Hey, I've got this really amazing skill set, holistic from the entertainment world. Um, I'm gonna teach you how to communicate better with an audience. Um, so I dove into the science and the neuroscience and the biology and why those techniques, like humor and laughter and storytelling are so important for our biology if we really wanna engage and influence an audience. And that has brought me to where I am today.
I have a leadership certification. I have a life coach certification. I'm certified in five behavioral and psychological, um, assessments. And initially I just started working, with speakers and presenters and then that kind of morphed into leadership teams and women in leadership and individual coaching as well as team coaching.
So essentially, I suppose you could say I'm a communication expert and a storytelling expert. Because the most powerful story you'll ever tell is the one between your ears and mindset and belief system has a lot to do with how we show up and how we self lead ourselves. I therefore to lead a group of people following us.
Liz: Yeah. Uh, well, I know for sure my audience will love that. So we talk a lot about where strategy meets intuition on this podcast. I love that melding together of the creative and this, the scientific. So you and I had actually met through a Facebook group, the Peloton moms in leadership shouted out to Melissa and her group.
Mm-hmm. and. Wanted to hear from you about, you know, why is understanding self and the, the self leadership so incredibly important when we're leading other people?
Stephanie: That is a great question. So I don't know if people know what DISC is, but DISC is probably one of the most well known assessments out there next to Myers-Briggs or strength finders.
And DISC is our observable behavior. So it's d stands for dominance, how you, um, show up for problems and challenges or how you approach problems and challenges. I stands for influence how you influence and swayed others to your way of thinking. Stands for steadiness the way you show up and pace yourself. And C stands for compliance. I like to say how naughty you are, but, compliance really stands for how you comply to the rules and regulations set by others.
And the reason why DISC is such a great example is because it's observable behavior and we, whether we know our values or not, our values depict our behavior.
And so if we are not self-aware with our own self leadership, our actions will not be congruent with our words. And I can talk about the science behind it. Every single human behavior expert that I have studied under, spoken with, read their books, created friendships with, they all say the same thing. Your, values will depict your behavior. So if you want to lead others, then you better have some integrity and some morals and some values and be congruent with your words. And that's why self leadership is so incredibly important.
Liz: Yeah, I couldn't agree more with you. I remember my own foray into this whole world was in values work, and I've always tell my, like people I work with, like I write down my values in every new journal I get. My first page is always the values. It's so incredibly important.
Now the other incredibly important thing that I know you know a lot about is storytelling. And I'd love to hear more about, you know, we, we hear that it's important, but, you know, why is it so important and, you know, what, what are, what are you so passionate about?
Stephanie: It just, it makes so much sense. It's like peeling back the layer of the onion and most people, when they come to me and, and I and I and I, I wanna see where their knowledge and understanding of story is before I even start. You know? That's why the book for me is so great because I can now, you know, a client signs up with me or a team signs up with me.
Buy the book. Read the book before the training, you'll have a download to my brain and you'll understand where we're gonna go because you know, there is the forgetting curve, right? And I talk about it actually in the book where we learn something, we forget it, we learn something, we forget it, we learn something, we forget it unless we repeat in certain ways people don't remember stuff.
So the book is just such an asset to me now, and when we go to communicate with other people, we create that communication, whether it's preparing for a meeting, whether it's a presentation, whether you're gonna be speaking. Regardless of that message and, and what type of message it is, we create that message if we think about it, right? Cuz some people just stand up and wing it. Oh yeah. I just, you know, that, that can also be detrimental to our health . But we create the message with our neocortex. And so if you think about, I don't have a visual to give you, but there, you know, I do have a brain in the book and I explain it with visuals in the book.
We create a message with our neocortex, and that is where logic, reason, and language is created in the brain. And we forget that that message, in order to be received by another brain or another human, it has to travel through two prehistoric brains first. One being the reptilian brain, which is fight or flight and instinctual only.
And the next one being the mammalian brain, which is the limb in, um, amygdala system. And those two brains do not understand language, logic or reason. So unless your message is created in a way that excites those two parts of the brain and they're like, Oh, is this risky? Or is this novel? Was this exciting?
What is this? You know, or is this funny? You know, it doesn't mean you have to be a comedian, but you have to emotionally deliver that message in some way because a large percentage, like some, depending on which expert you're talking to, at 73 to 93% of our communication is nonverbal. So, If you are not delivering that message in a nonverbal, engaging, influential way, then essentially you're just throwing words at somebody else's brain and they may or may not hit, and that message may or may not go upstairs.
But when we create it with developing story with emotional delivery and emotional words and like things that elicit visuals in somebody else's brain, like a great way to express this and this because we are on audible. Is, if I was to say, eat this, it's a chocolate banana. It's really delicious. I've tasted it myself.
Okay. This is how a lot of people deliver messages right out in the corporate world, not, you probably switched off halfway through and looked at your phone. I don't know. But if I said, Eat this chocolate banana. Oh my God. It's delicious. I've tasted it myself. I'm going back for more. You know, I changed my international in my voice.
I created a visual. You saw the chocolate banana. I don't know if you, you might have even seen whipped cream on it and strawberries. Who knows what your favorite visual is? But when we create visual with the way we describe something, the way we say it, things like that, we entice the limbic system. And the other thing about persuasive messaging is, we cannot make a decision without going back to our limbic system and saying, How do you feel about that?
So if the neocortex goes, Okay, the, the car is the right price, it's got the right mileage on it, um, it looks good. I like the color , but how do I feel about it? You always go back to your limbic system, which has no language, logical reason to make a decision, and we cannot make a decision. Input emotionally and it's been scientifically proven with neuroscience.
So I think that may answer your question why storytelling is so important. And as I said, a lot of my clients show up thinking they're bringing me a story, cuz I'll say, write down the. Write down your story. I mean, especially when they're speakers because, you know, we, we start with some form of script and I'm like, you know, write down your story so I can see where you're at. And then I can see how they understand language or enticing words or emotional words or pausing and things like that.
And if most of the time, I'd say 90% of the time, They write me a list, a list of items. As I would say, you know, I, I woke up in the mor, this is just a bad example, but I woke up in the morning, I got outta bed, I put my shoes, and I walked into the bathroom. Um, I took a shower, then I went into the kitchen and I had breakfast.
See this? That's a list of items to me, versus, Oh God, I just didn't wanna get up outta bed this morning. I had a hangover from last night. Oh. But I swung myself out of the bed and I pulled myself up into a seated position and then, I sat there for a couple of more minutes just holding on to how I feel before that, that's more of a story, right?
So we feel emotion, we connect to it already, and we are going, Oh yeah, God, I've been there with, I mean, I don't know if everybody's had a hangover, but you know, . But that's the difference between a list of facts and story. And the way our brain receives story is you can give us all the data and facts you want. But when it's wrapped in story and emotion, it becomes truth to our brain. And that's where the influential and persuasive aspect of it comes in.
Liz: I love that and I can see how, how incredibly important it is, like you're saying, cause it would transcends most communication, like all communication would have that piece of storytelling to it or bringing story into it.
And one area I was really curious to hear from you about for the stories is when we're talking about executive interviews or interviews in general, but especially at the executive level. Like, you know, you, you read the monster.com article saying you should have stories and I'm wondering what you would add to that? Like what are, what suggestions you have for people, or maybe what are some things that they really should be thinking of that they might not be thinking about when they're developing their stories? For these you job interviews or executive recruitment opportunities.
Stephanie: Mm mm Yeah. I, I have a lot of clients that often shift or transition while we are working together into new positions or, you know, especially in the biotech world where things explode and deplode every now and , you know, like ilo, it's like grow, They grow a hundred miles an hour and then they, you know, deplete their staff really quickly to, depending on what kind of money coming in and out the door.
In those scenarios, especially if, I mean, most people don't generally get to interview all the time, all day long, right? Especially if you're in transition or you're making the, the decision to like, I hate my job, I wanna leave from here and I'm gonna go and find something else. And, you know, all those kind of things that, that's a great position to be in. Um, but when we laid off or something like that, um, that can send us into a downward spiral. We could be nervous. We have imposter syndrome, especially as women. A lot of my women in leadership, they don't think of themselves where they should think of themselves, and they don't have that confidence even though they're at a directed level or an executive level or a VP level or something like that. Um, , you know, it's, it's that old thing of was like, Oh, well, and, and I don't know what the statistic is off the top of my head, but, you know, women will say they're not ready for a position or they're, they shouldn't apply for a position, um, because they don't have all the credentials when men will have 60, 40% of the credentials and say that they're perfect for the job.
So, you know, it's, it's a mindset once again, belief system, the story that you're telling yourself between your ears. So I think when preparing those types of stories. Uh, sometimes it's easier to get outside of yourself and ask other people or colleagues, if you still have those relationships, go back with them and get them to remind you.
I did a simple exercise with one of my woman in leadership recently where she was laid off. She came to me just feeling like she'd had the rug removed under her feet because she built that business from ground up. It was like going through a divorce, you know. she wasn't in a really great space and we worked with the assessments.
We worked through and looked at her strengths and her opportunities for growth. I sent her out into the world to ask a bunch of questions of her friends and her colleagues. And get them to give her feedback. That exercise in itself gave her strength and her value. We did a values exercise. We drew all done on what her values are.
She elevated every exercise we did, she actually really put herself into it a hundred percent. She's now in a great position. She's being offered things left, right, and center. And so those stories that you prepare, For those meetings , there's actually a really good book out there.
It's called Healing Career Wounds, and it's written by a friend of mine who's a recruiter in the tech industry. And it's written for like HR departments and things like that and other recruiters. However, if you spin it, you can use the knowledge for somebody who is interviewing, you know, if you are going out for an executive role or a level above yourself or things like that.
There's a, there's a list of questions in that book that's really, really helpful and I use it, for my clients and I, I rewrite those questions and things to fit their scenario to help them. But having the confidence to write your stories in a succinct and emotional manner so that you can tell those stories in those interviews.
Because you know, a lot of people are now starting to ask values and culture based questions. You know, this scenario happened, how did you deal with it? Um, and knowing how to tell those stories without throwing anyone under the bus, showing any form of anger. Like, you know, even towards a negative boss that you know who was a narcissist and you never, you know, whatever.
The most be beneficial way to tell those stories is to be sincere, transparent, and empathetic of the scenario in the situation. And do your best to explain the leadership role that you took in that position. I talk about it in the book, there has been studies done that the four top things that we seek in other people is sincerity, transparency, empathy, and humor.
A lot of people are terrified of humor, but I always say that you are the funniest person you know, because there's nobody out there who hasn't laughed with their family, made their children laugh, made their colleagues, their friends laugh. Because most of what we laugh at is common denominators.
It's got nothing to do with standup. It's got nothing to do with jokes. It's silly little things that happen throughout the day that we share with each other. And people shouldn't be afraid of humor. Using appropriate humor in the right scenario can be something that is sort of a bit of a trial and error situation, but you shouldn't be afraid of humor because laughter is the most contagious behavior we have and it bonds and connects us very quickly. And some experts and research will show that we had laughter before we had language, and there are studies done that prove that animals laugh and that laughter, or majority of laughter is actually generated through our limbic system, which is basically the mammalian brain.
And it's what your mammals, your cat, your dog have in their head, you know? So when they're panting and having a good time and wagging their tails and playing around, they're pretty much laughing based on the.
Liz: That's awesome. And yeah, I love that section in your book. So anyone who's thinking about getting the book, I definitely recommend even just for that section alone.
So it was so just a simple way of seeing humor and you gave some really good examples on it too. So I thought that was awesome. The other piece that I, I loved in your book, and I wanted to tease out a little bit more in this interview, cause you talked about, um, being memorable and the neuroscience of being memorable.
Mm. And I would love to know if you have any specific action steps or kind of a howtos that you, that you've seen work that consistently work? Like if someone's like trying to be memorable, maybe struggling with it a bit and could just use it, just a little bit of support in becoming more memorable.
Stephanie: Well, believe it or not, I actually organize a special gift for your audience. I have a downloadable pdf, it's called the 12 Steps to Present Powerfully and With Purpose to Engage Any Audience and that has 12 tips, a lot of them are in my book, but, uh, um, it's, it's a faster, much read, better read than my book. I guess. If, if you only want 12 pages to read, then you'll get something out of it for free. Uh, and you can get that at StephaniePaulinc.com/powerfulgift. That will actually give, uh, them a bunch of stuff that they can look at and think about that'll help engage, um, and influence an audience.
Liz: Amazing. So everyone listening, I'll also dropped in the show notes. So both here, wherever you're listening or on the site, you'll be able to get access to it to that. And Stephanie, this has been amazing. It's so fun to talk to you. I can keep talking about this forever, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.
Can you let people know where else they can find you? If they wanna look you up, wanna work with you or wanna follow you or, or get your book, which by the way, it's super accessible, a very approachable read. So I definitely recommend it.
Stephanie: Thank you. Thank you very much, and if you read it, please write me a review. Review, sorry, on Amazon. Actually, the audible should be coming out end of this year, beginning of next year. But we, we are doing a full blown production on it with sound and music and things like that. So, because there's so many stories in there, uh, but you can find me on LinkedIn, forward slash step.
Stephanie Paul, I n c Inc. Again, Stephanie Paul Inc. Obviously my. Stephanie Paul inc.com. Um, I have a Facebook group called Executive Storytellers. You can find me there and get more tidbits. Uh, and um, and if you wanna email me directly, um, you can email us at help for you, which is H E L P, the number four and the letter u @stephaniepaulinc.com. So that's help for firstname.lastname@example.org. Um, and you will get an email back from one of my assistants. So that is how you can get hold of me.
Liz: Amazing. And just like the other PDF link, we'll have all of those in the show notes. So you'll have the easy way to get a hold of Stephanie, link up with her and check out everything she has to offer. So Stephanie, thank you again so much for being here. I so appreciate it.
Stephanie: No, my deepest gratitude for the invitation. Thank you.
Liz: Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If this podcast helped you or inspired you in any way, I would love for you to leave me a review over on apple podcasts, it takes 20 seconds, if that, and it's, it's honestly the easiest way for you to thank me for this episode. Every time I see a review, it brings me so much joy and it just lights me up.
So if you could do that for me, I would be ever so grateful. Now, the other thing you can do is you can take a screenshot of this episode or even a screenshot of your review and send it to a friend or share it in a Facebook group or even post on your LinkedIn newsfeed to let other people know about this podcast and this episode.
Thanks again. And now get out there and start breaking some rules.