Laura Fravel
Executive Communications and Leadership Coach | Keynote Speaker
Automatic Summary

Unleash Your Story: Discover the Power of Your Voice

We often call our lives ordinary, failing to recognize the extraordinary strands woven into the fabric of our personal journeys. In this blog, I want to underline the power each one of us possesses, the power of our story.

Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Stories

With my experience of interviewing over 100 people from around 30 countries, ranging from Neil Armstrong to the mom next door to snake charmers in India, I can say with certainty that we all have stories to tell. Stories that are a part of our bloomed or budding identities. Stories that are not limited by stereotypes or preconceived boundaries. Stories that possess the mystery of being absolutely unique to each person. It becomes our imperative to recognize, unearth, and share these stories.

Empower Yourself With Your Story

Our personal and professional narratives often intertwine, creating a tapestry that reflects our abilities, our past, our cultural heritage, and our dreams. But, do these narratives truly depict who we are? Do they echo our genuine voices and aspirations?

Taking the path towards self-discovery, we start by questioning the stories we've been telling ourselves; analyzing the narratives we've inherited and evaluating if these align with who we want to be. Oftentimes, we find this lexicon inadequate, amounting to only a fraction of who we truly are. Our task then is not just revising these imprinted stories, but also overriding them with our authentic narratives.

Flipping the Script

Many a time, we measure ourselves with the yardstick of societal norms and expectations, labeling ourselves as 'shy', 'quiet', or 'reserved'. But it's time to flip the script. It's time to convert these perceived weaknesses into our unique strengths. It's about saying: "I'm observant. I listen to everyone in the room. I consolidate my thoughts into one powerful summary." Just like this, we can harness our inherent qualities and fully own who we are.

Embracing Authenticity

In the face of information overload, it becomes critical to show up as our authentic selves. Whether it's at work or in our personal lives, what sets us apart is our personality, our unique stories, and our authenticity. It's our authenticity that captures people's attention, creates trust, and evokes empathy. To stand out in this vast crowd, we need to allow our true selves to shine through; to show up more human and less of a robotic entity.

Telling the Story of the Future

Often, when asked about our work or to introduce ourselves, we dive straight into our current roles and lob a chronological order of our past achievements. How often do we share about where we want to go? To make our desires manifest, we first need to articulate what work we want, what opportunities we seek, and where we see ourselves in the future. Our future dreams deserve to be part of our identity as much as our past victories. As we transform our stories, we start telling of the future we want to step into, not merely the past we've walked through.

Share Your Personal Journey

Whether it's a professional, personal or fun tidbit about us, sharing our journey humanizes us, making us memorable, creating trust, and most importantly, making us vividly real. Research shows that when we wrap information in stories, it's 22 times more likely to be remembered than facts alone. Our stories elicit dopamine, a bonding chemical, which helps in creating a bond, empathy, and trust with our audience.

The Power of Authenticity

Our stories are not just an escape into our past, they act as the stepping stones into our future. Unleashing our narratives into the world is our passport to opportunities, innovation, career progression, and even societal transformation. When we live and share our truth, we create a path to success that is exclusively ours.


As we journey towards becoming more authentic versions of ourselves, remember, our stories are extraordinary. They give us the power to shape our destiny, lay ground for wider conversations and create impactful changes. They help us live a life more true to ourselves, steering us towards a future we aspire to.

So, let's challenge ourselves today, to unearth and share these stories to create a world that listens, connects, and resonates with our personal truths.

Video Transcription

Welcome everyone. I'm super excited to be here and, and that you can be here with me today and today we are talking all about your story, your voice and what impact that can have out in the world.So if there's one thing I would love for you to take away. It's that even though we all feel we're ordinary, have somewhat ordinary lives, it is truly extraordinary your story. And I don't say this whimsically. I say this from interviewing 100 people around the world in 30 some different countries. And are there Amara sorry, I'm gonna jump in really quickly. I am I going to be able to see the folks or is it? Um am I not going to be able to see

everyone, see everyone and just keep going? Uh It's reporting everyone can see you?

OK, thank you. Um Yeah, so I don't, I don't say this whimsically. I say this from um interviewing 100 people around the world in 32 different countries uh in every socioeconomic uh cultural background. I spent about 20 years in TV, and media and largely in documentary television and journalism. Um interviewing all kinds of people from Neil Armstrong, uh who walked on the moon to the mom next door to snake charmers in India. And, um, everyone always felt they didn't have much to say. They didn't have much of a story. Um, there is the typical tech guru, uh, who worked at a startup in Southern California that one time I worked with. And he just happened to have this hobby of collecting snakes and he went down to Mexico, um, snake hunting. He was really interested in them. He didn't kill them. But when he wanted one, he would then take the snake, stick it down his pants and smuggle it across the US border. Even he didn't think he'd be telling a story to anybody bordered control police. And my point being is we all have these bits and interesting stories that were so in our lives that we have no idea how interesting they can be to other people. Um, in each and every time I interviewed someone over these years in TV.

And media, there was always one thing, one trend that always emerged and that was that person would come back and say, thank you. I had no idea. My story could help another person. I had no idea. My story could innovate my indus industry. I had no idea. It could bring me opportunities or elevate my career change the world sometimes. So that is really what I'd love to dive into today is really understanding how powerful. What we feel is so ordinary in our lives is actually extraordinary. Our journey, the bits of who we are. You don't have to be sticking snakes down your pants to think you have a story to tell where some tragedy in your life. That's the other thing. A lot of people think. So. I am absolutely guilty of hiding bits and pieces of myself. I was raised uh a super shy child. I was labeled and my first stage appearance, I'd regularly pretty much talk on stages these days. But my first stage appearance I was in second grade and I was labeled so shy that the only role they would cast me for was it was in the Wizard of Oz the dead witch. So there's this cool green evil witch. I was not her. I was the one that a house fell on. Dorothy's house fell on and I was just supposed to lay there dead with my legs sticking out. And eventually I would roll off screen. Then came fifth grade.

A few years later, I had a chance to redeem myself and I was cast in Shakespeare's play um a Midsummer's Night Dream. And I thought this was my chance to redeem myself. And I was given the part of if any of you are familiar of the donkey Shakespeare has a three letter word which I won't repeat, which I won't call myself. But between I was, I was had these labels and narratives that I was shy that I couldn't speak up, I wouldn't be able to speak on stage. Um So after being cast as a dead witch and a donkey that you can imagine that set the stage for probably the next 30 years of my life of feeling that my, my voice wasn't worthy that I can't speak on stage. And that is just to say, that's not to say you're in for a doozy of like a 20 minutes. But it's to say what narratives have we inherited from our culture, from being female, from being female in the professional world. Um What narratives have we inherited from our family and friends, the expectations of who we're supposed to be but might not actually be ourselves. So I'm gonna share my screen real quick and if at any point, anybody has any questions, please just jump in the chat.

So the first step is to get curious, what stories am I telling myself? What are all those narratives that I've inherited? And then hence what stories am I putting out into the world? Do these actually align with who I truly am? And are they serving me well, so fast forward 20 years and I am then dropping my do preschool daughter off at day care. There was a new teacher there. I hadn't met her, but my daughter had and I felt the need to say, introduce myself and then say my daughter, she might stand by you. She's pretty shy just like I was. And the teacher immediately stopped me and said your daughter isn't shy. She's self confident. And I thought the teacher was slightly crazy at first and then she went on to explain herself. Your daughter has the confidence to stand here, observe everything that is going on around her. She doesn't like to want. Her friends are over there fighting. She's not gonna go over there just because she feels left out. Those kids are throwing dirt at each other. I'm not gonna jump into that. I don't want to do that. So she'll stand here until she sees people doing what she wants to jump into and then she'll jump in and lead them. So what I thought was a weakness, shyness of my daughter and possibly me was actually her superpower.

So how many things narratives are we telling ourselves that we see as our weaknesses, which can actually be amazing strength. How can we flip the script? And that is the next step. How can we flip the script, edit old narratives and start rewriting a new story? So let's ditch the narratives that don't serve us anymore. Let's rewrite our weaknesses into strength. So say you feel you are pretty quiet in meetings and that you need to speak up more. I'm, I'm too quiet. I'm not vocal enough. I'm not aggressive enough in meetings with my, my voice. That's not the same that it isn't important to learn to speak up, but you can also reframe it and say I'm really observant. I listen to everybody in the room, which very few people usually do. Usually we're all making, trying to think of what we're gonna say next and we don't hear everyone else. So that could be your strength. I'm observant. I hear everyone in the room. Then I consolidate my thoughts into one really powerful summary or perspective. Maybe it's even after the meeting, you send everybody a note, an email with a couple key points summarized. So there's different ways we can lean into our personalities. What we do best flip the script, use them as our strengths and still show up and then I'm gonna jump right into oops before I do that, this, I love this artist.

If none of you have heard of her before, Liz Sline lean, I love this diagram because this really says we often play in a box, especially in the professional world and especially as women who we think we're supposed to be and we don't step out of that box. So this is who we not only can be, but I think in the professional world should be is this star. So we're living in an era of complete uh information overload with A I. We can have so much in chat G BT, we can have so much information at our fingertips. We can create newsletters, we could create keynote talks, um articles, presentations all with chat G BT. But the one thing that it does not have is your personality, your stories, your journey, your authenticity and vulnerability. And I think going forward in the future in the professional world that is go, it's already key. But I think it's even gonna become more key with A I that is what is going to make you stand out and what other people uh can't get from, from information. Oops. And that is just my daughter and just an inspiration that it's those crazy moments and our crazy stories. And what makes us us is what creates these really unique um talking points and makes us us, it is really all about showing up more human.

And lastly, the uh third step that I always like to say is, and this is the one that will really make you sore is let's start telling the future or the story of where you want to go, not the story of where you've been. So I sit down, I work with a lot of um executives and founders um directors, you name it. We always, if you ask them, tell me about your work or introduce yourself, what they will start with is what they're doing right now. And then there's often a chronological order of what they've done in the past. How many of you ever share the story of where you wanna go? So I truly believe what you put out into the world is really what we're gonna receive back. So if you can't articulate what work you want, what opportunities you want, what you're passionate about and where you wanna go. And if you don't put that out into the world, it's really hard to receive it. And I think that's what most of us do we want to show in the professional world credibility. So we say what we're doing, our name, our title, everything we've done in the past, we forget that amazing piece of where we want to go in the future. Um I had a client recently who really wanted to uplevel um young black emerging Leaners. Um And we, we spoke, I looked at his linkedin profile, um other articles and information online about this client and not a single thing was around up leveling black young leaders.

It wasn't what they were doing right now. They had some volunteering on that, but they didn't bring it into their professional world and make it part of their identity. Their identity was their name and title and the position that they're doing right now. So how can we bring more of what we're passionate about where we want to go and bring that into what we're doing right now? So I'm gonna give you guys some practical exam examples of how you can infuse more of your story and your voice into how you show up in the world. So, and please, if anybody has any questions at all just throw them in the chat. So here's an example, I'm just gonna run down a couple. This happens to be like a linkedin headline. Um So I changed the name but this is a former client. As usual we would say, oh, I'm a fracture CFO and then she'd have the company, you know, name. But what if we bring more of her into this? She's a virtual or fractional CFO operations advisor. Number one most fun bean counting nerd on the planet, helping the sustainable food and wine industry create killer profits while putting their people and plan it first as well. So if these were two different people, which one of these people would you be super excited to get to know and reach out to probably that second one.

And this just goes to show the more we can bring a little bit of ourselves and our story, our voice into things we do. People coming across us, especially online, they get to know us a bit. They get to understand who we are, our values. We get to connect a little bit more. So then when they actually do reach out to you, you've already started to build that trust um and bond with, with them. So here's an example of a bio and I think this is typical of so many of us in our industries. Um We use a lot of industry jargon to make ourselves professional and incredible. So the old bio here, Senior Reward practitioner with experience across Eme A Asia and the Americas in Reward. I read this and I wasn't, I didn't even know, I didn't even know what she was talking about. So we have to remember who we're talking to. Um, and even if you're talking to someone within your industry, they still wanna hear something conversational and personal. So flip that into the bio blow, she added some of her personality. She made it more conversational. We pulled some of the really key statistics up top to hit people right off the bat. 15 years, 40 countries. So I'm not your typical compensation and benefits director.

I've worked in the field for over 15 years and across 40 countries around the world, I'm embarrassingly passionate about it. It's so important for a company to get its reward structure, right? But it can be a minefield, especially for multinational companies and then she goes on.

Um So immediately that grabs you, it shows her personality. You read those first few lines and even though I might not want to know anything about compensation directors, I wanna know more about her. It's interesting, she's embarrassingly passionate about it. So that's just another example of how we can ditch jargon and we can show up a little more human. So this is another one. say you're introducing yourself at a networking event. How do you usually introduce yourself, your name, your company, your title and maybe something um, I hate to say it but slightly dry about what you do. Um, this client I had worked with. Hi, I'm Kat. I'm a project product manager who's been working at the intersection of global health and tech for the past decade. In particular, I used drone technology to advance research and I recently founded a consultancy company. So this isn't bad. I think it's interesting the intersection of global health and tech you might want to dig more. However, she buried one of her most fabulous um pieces about her. She has, she founded a company. So and the company name is pretty interesting too. 400 ft, which you could, people could ask more questions about and be curious about. So we flipped it around a little. Hi, I'm Kat, founder of 400 ft, a consultancy company using drone technology to advance global health initiatives.

I believe that drone technology has the ability to revolutionize the work of researchers and NGO S in developing nations and also one of the few female FAA certified drone pilots out there. Like how cool. So when you're introducing yourself, I think we can identify ourselves by more than just our name, our title and our company. So people still want to know who you are and I and put labels on you. It's unfortunately the world we live in. So definitely tell them your title because people need to under relate to you in that way. But then give them something you're passionate about. So right here, she says, I believe that drone technology has the ability to revolutionize the work of researchers and NGO S that is so key to her work and everything that she is doing. Um And then throw in a fun tidbit if you can, whether it's personal um or in her case, she's one of the few female FAA pilots. So those are just some key examples of how you can bring more of yourself in just small little ways, whether it be online or in person. Um to be really more memorable, first and foremost, to create trust as well as credibility.

And I love geek out on kind of the science brain science neuroscience behind stories. So those little stories and bits and pieces you bring in about yourself. Um when you wrap information in stories, it's 22 times more likely to be remembered than facts alone. So I could sit here and tell you that X percent of females hide themselves and don't put themselves out there. Or I could share a little story about a guy who sticks snakes down his pants and say, hey, remember we're all hiding little bits and pieces of us. It doesn't have to be snakes, but you can get a chuckle from it. You're now remember very keenly. I need to be out more. Those little things that I think are just ordinary to me are actually crazy, profound educational, insightful to someone else. Um Our brains also released dopamine, which is this bonding chemical. So we also, that means we remember what we hear information we hear wrapped in stories more than if we just hear information alone. I think it's, we tend to give presentations or when we write articles or show up in any way in the professional world, we tend to want to show how much we know and build credibility. So we almost fire hose our audience with information, lots of information and sometimes it overwhelms your audience or reader instead of trying to tell a story, bring more of your authenticity, vulnerability into it and wrap the information in that.

And that's gonna be more remembered, uh remembered with greater acc accuracy. And the last one, it's also gonna create this bond, empathy and trust. So particularly when you're standing on stage and talking to an audience and giving story, the brain, they've proven the brains of the audience start to mimic the brain waves of the speaker. There's a trust that develops an understanding and hence, um it's just more, more bond.


so I love this quote from uh this woman was a palliative care nurse, a nurse who was taking care of people who were dying. And she interviewed, she's kind of a famous woman who interviewed hundreds of people who were about to die and asked them their biggest regret that they had in their life. And the number one theme she found was people would always say, I wish I had the courage to live a life more true to myself. And I think that is not just in our personal lives but also in our professional lives of that talk of authenticity. How do we show up with more authenticity? How do we show up with more of who we are, our voice, our perspective and really be true to myself and gain the opportunities and uh the direction of my career that I really wanted to go. Um I think there's also a lot of misconception between authenticity and vulnerability. So there are some, a lot most people are. Oh my gosh, I don't want to share every struggle I've been through. I don't want to share about my kids or my partner or my divorce or, you know, whatever has happened in your life, professional personal, I don't want to share it. And the thing is vulnerability is showing struggles, authenticity is showing up simply more you.

So what is your personality? Are you that more observant, quiet person or you loud and outspoken? And how can you own that part of your personality when you show up and sharing your perspective? I have thoughts. I have ideas. I've been in the industry for ages. This is my perspective from my experience. That's more authenticity. Vulnerability is uh I had the biggest failure in my career. I took the wrong direction. This is why or I'm going through cancer. That's vulnerability. And I think vulnerability, you get to choose the boundaries of, if you don't want to share any of your personal life, I don't think you have to. Um I don't think you have to share your vulnerabilities and struggles as you're going through them. I think it's often easier once you've been through them, once you're on the other side, you can say, hey, this is a struggle I had and this is what I learned from it and what you can learn from it too. It brings inspiration and uh education and takeaways. So I think that's the other thing people struggle with. When you say show up a story, show up with a more authentic voice. And just to sum up your story is really truly the key to unlocking opportunity, helping others influencing your industry, creating movements, dialogue. Sometimes it's just about speaking your voice to spark dialogue and um thinking people appreciate that. Um your story, your voice, it sparks innovation, it forwards your career. It can even change the little world. I've seen it many a times.

So I would love to invite you to connect with me more. Uh That's just my newsletter link. If you want some more tips and tricks on how to really find out uncover your story more, how to articulate it and then how to amplify it out into the world, whether it be in a boardroom in a team meeting or whether it be a keynote talk and, you know, in the press, um that's kind of what I help.

Uh a lot of leaders do is find their voice and put it out there so they really can create their best work yet. And my newsletter is just full of fun little stories and tips and I think we have a couple more minutes. If anybody has any questions at all, just throw them in the chat. Otherwise it's been an honor talking to you all and thank you so much for joining. Thank you, Jacqueline and Mary. Appreciate it. Thank you Linda. And I would encourage you all to think of. Thanks. Sorry, I hope I'm saying your name right. Um I would encourage everyone to think of that one thing they can do to infuse a little bit more of yourself, whether it's rewriting your linkedin header, whether it's introducing yourself new. I hope you can all find a little bit of inspiration to bring a little more authenticity into your, into your work.