Business storytelling: Put your story to work

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Humans are wired to connect by hearing and telling stories

Kevin Swayze business storytelling
Kevin Swayze, business storyteller and presentation coach.

Put the power of business storytelling to work when you want your message heard — and remembered.

Connect with your customers.

Craft engaging sales presenations.

Build your brand online and in person.

Personal, deliberate storytelling does that — and more.

Kevin Swayze helps you unearth, shape and empower your story so it cuts through the static of social media. He’ll guide you to give reporters what they want to boost your image in earned media opportunities. Business storytelling helps you win positive attention in our age of distraction

Give your audience what it wants

Kevin has 30+ years of journalism experience digging for the root of what’s going on. After writing thousands of stories on daily deadlines, Kevin knows how to zero in on the key issues. He asks questions to polish your next blog entry, craft a memorable Facebook post memorable or impress clients during your next business presentation.

Put business storytelling to work

Kevin crafts messages using Emotional Intelligence and proven journalism tactics. Honestly, transparency and empathy build memorable sponsored content, sales presentations or keynote speeches. Kevin prepares you for the moment your elevator pitch impresses an investor.

Deliver your message with impact

Kevin coaches you on how to effectively connect with your audience by expanding your toolkit of interpersonal tactics and online communication skills. Learn engaging and entertaining tactics of audience engagement. Hold everyone’s attention in the room from the first breath of your speech all the way to the closing applause.

Contact Kevin today to help you build compelling, persuasive messages that are remembered and shared. Reach him by email; text or voice at 226-924-4237, or use the contact form below.

Where to search for jobs in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario

When are you finished your career search? Photo by Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

I always wonder what path students take after leaving my Business Communications classes at Conestoga College in Kitchener.

Most are international students pursuing the dream of studying, living and working in Canada. In class, I shared tips to help them manage their culture shock. I tell them I an ready to help them after arriving in a place with cold weather, funny food and people who talk funny — like me.

They shared recipes, movie recommendations and gritty enthusiasm that inspires me. I learn more than I teach, as I continue my own a second career as a communications teacher.  

Sometimes, later on, I hear from them after they connect with me on my LinkedIn profile. I like the birthday greetings! I more usuallly receive messages looking for jobs or tips to polish their LinkedIn profile. They remembered how I repeated “put your LinkedIn profile to work for you” in class!

Now is the time to put all persuasion skills we talked about in class to work. It’s time to tell relatable stories that leads to a job interview. It’s time for engage storytelling with a personal purpose.

Use career support services

After graduation, my essential employment advice is the same as I offered in class. Use every support service and assistance available to you from Conestoga. You paid for it in your tuition.

I urge students to book a career support session at this link: https://mycareer.conestogac.on.ca/students-alumni/studentLogin.htm

If you’re not a Conestoga graduate and looking for a job, I urge you to investigate alumni support services at the school you attended. Or, contact Conestoga to access their government-supported free career services: https://www.conestogac.on.ca/career-centre

I also share job postings in my social media feeds and job search links for the Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo area.

Government of Canada online Job Bank

https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/home

Lutherwood community support services

https://www.lutherwood.ca/employment/job-board

Facebook job boards

Cambridge, Ontario Jobs (Lutherwood)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/160444858234267

Opportunity jobs Kitchener-Waterloo

https://www.facebook.com/groups/160444858234267

Jobs Available in Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1065977336782657

Kitchener-Waterloo Jobs (Lutherwood)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/627211920948240

Jobs in Kitchener Waterloo Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/458359828081233

What other job supports do you recommend in Cambridge, Kitchener or Waterloo? Please share information in the comments below.

Failure is the lesson? Try this Growth Mindset quiz

My Growth Mindset quiz results on April 18, 2022: I have some work to do. Screengrab from IDRlabs.com

Do you have a growth mindset? Or do you fear challenge and change?

They are questions I ask students in my COMM8400 Business Communications classes each semester at Conestoga College​. As I ask them to take an online quiz, I also log also answer the 20 questions myself.

I encourage you to take the quiz, too. Learn something about your readiness to face life’s challenges. Here’s the link: https://www.idrlabs.com/growth-mindset-fixed-mindset/test.php

My quiz result today: I have a growth mindset with some fixed ideas.

I have some work to do in my personal growth, apparently.

I notice variations in my quiz results, semester to semester. When things are going well, when I’m feeling successful, I remember having a higher growth-mindset score. When life is messier, I’m stressed and struggling, I remember I have a higher fixed-mindset score. I can’t help but note the relationship.

Personal growth

The big takeaway for me after teaching a lesson on Growth Mindset is always “skills and intelligence are malleable,” as Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck says.

Dweck’s research always reminds me of the power of smart goal setting, flexible thinking and embracing imperfection. It’s time for me to read her Growth Mindset book again.

Encouraging students to develop a growth mindset for personal and career success reminds me to walk the walk myself. It’s always better for a teacher to model the effective strategies that build my personal and business communication skills.

I have control of my life when I decide to take control of my life.

I have the ability to change and learn — and learn and change.

Challenges are a good thing because they’re hard and build my problem-solving mental muscle.

Embracing failure is a powerful way for my best learning opportunities to take root and grow.

What’s your plan to build a Growth Mindset?

To get you started, here are 20 guidelines from PositivePshychology.com to read on your journey.

Become a more effective writer by reading The Elements of Style, by William Strunk

My copy of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White.

I just call it Strunk and White, but the book’s proper name is The Elements of Style.

There’s no better writing guide I’ve seen for preparing stories, speeches, news releases or pretty well any English-language business or personal communication. After 40 years of writing for money as a freelancer, newspaper journalist, editor, teacher and communications consultant, it remains a go-to reference. It offers me essential advice as I continue learning and practicing my craft.

The 95-page book is a century old and still offers rock-solid advice to be heard and understood in a noisy digital world.  Write with active verbs.  Use simple words where possible.  Put short, direct sentences to work.

I’ll warn you: writing shorter takes longer.  Creating effective written communication is hard work. There’s no app for that — yet.

There is, however, an Elements of Style rap music video.

Here’s a link to the original The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, as a no-charge ebook offered by Project Gutenberg: www.gutenberg.org/files/37134/37134-h/37134-h.htm

An updated, paperback version remains in print and a copy belongs on your reference shelf. For any writer, I suggest it’s the best $9.10 (CAN) you can spend on Amazon today:

Hand-written thank you cards remain powerful connection tools in my digital world

A hand-written thank you note in this card grabbed my attention.

When was the last time you received a handwritten note in your mailbox?

And, no, I’m not talking about all those “personal” advertising flyers in faux handwriting asking to buy my house. Some of them look like they are written by primary school students. Others have tiny, perfectly printed characters that reminded me of notes left behind by a serial killer in movies.

I’m talking about a genuine, handwritten thank you card. Or a personal note.

Yes, I’m talking about analog communication in a digital world.

It happened to me last month. I donated money to a local charity, and they replied with a handwritten note thanking me. Wow!

It made me feel fantastic on a day when more than 100 new emails stuffed my inbox — most of which I probably won’t read. 

I read every word of this thank you, written in flowing script writing that took me back to a time before the internet, when letters, notes and cards were commonplace in my life. 

Handwritten cards

Back to the farmhouse where I grew up, to when my mother with write and mail send letters to her mother in London – Ontario.  When she sat at the kitchen table night after night in the first week of December, sending out Christmas cards with thought notes included inside.

Back to a time of writing essays in pencil on foolscap paper in primary school.  

Back to when I started writing my class notes in a fountain pen in high school, because I enjoyed the experience.

Back to the late 1980s, when I worked at the Cambridge Reporter newspaper. I vividly remember when readers — occasionally — dropped a thank you note in the mail about a story they liked. Or offered me a story idea on paper.  I don’t think I saved any of them when the paper closed in 2003, as I was waded deeper in to my bottomless email inbox. 

Thank you cards are powerful

The fact I was so taken — indeed, pleasantly startled — by a thank you card in the mail last month would be no surprise to researchers in this 2018 study: “Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation,” published in the journal Psychological Science.

The study found that people expressing gratitude underestimated how pleased people would be with a handwritten note. And they overestimated the potential awkwardness that someone might feel receiving a heartfelt thank-you note.

The exchange of a handwritten thank you note also brought emotional benefits to both the sender and recipient.  

And it’s more than just saying thank you to a neighbours for watering your garden while you are away on holiday.

I found business coaches promoting the power of hand written thankyou cards on the business website Forbes.com.  They’re highlighted as glue to build personal networks for career success.

Handwritten cards are also used to support mental patients during recovery after hospitalization, Psychology Today notes.  Caring Cards are written by groups of patients who meet to create one-of-a-kind cards. They’re given to peers struggling with mental health concerns, offering extra, personal support.

The simple act helps both card creators and recipients, reduce the risk of suicide, because researchers believe it builds a sense of purpose and social connections.  At the very least, the cards are enjoyable to create, send and receive.

Thank like you speak

But what to say? Hallmark, the greeting card company, of course, offers advice at hallmark.com.  Basically, saying thank you is easy if make it easy.  Be yourself.

“Writing tip: If writing a thank-you takes you back to high school and turns your writing awkwardly stiff or formal, then relax and try to write like you speak. If you’re a person who would say, “Thanks so much for watching our dog!” then say, “Thanks so much for watching our dog!” Just exactly like that.”

And here’s another tip sheet: The Seven Steps to a Great Thank-You Note, from Michigan State University Extension Service.

I last sent a thank-you card sometime last summer. I think. Or maybe it was the summer before?

That’s a foolish practice to continue, if I want to nurture my personal and business networks.  And to gain the positive personal. emotional benefits of purposeful gratitude.

Now, it’s time for me to start practicing my penmanship. Buy a box of quality cards at my favourite writing tools store, Phidon Pens in Cambridge. And remember to pick up stamps at the post office.

Join me in a challenge I’ve set for myself: write and mail one thank you note every month for the rest of 2022.

Or, perhaps, make that a note once a week.

This post is adapted from a speech presented March 13, 2022 at Cambridge Toastmasters.