But what’s it really about?

The parallel between songs and stories

My approach to storytelling is simpler than the more complicated models and templates you might have read about, (like, the Hero’s Journey, for example.) Those may be suitable for long-format stories such as novels and movies. But, for business communicators like you and me, we need to be able to get into the story and out of it within a few minutes, and often without the listeners even being aware that what they actually heard was a ‘story’.

It just slips past their unconscious Bayesian brick walls of beliefs and past experiences.

One of the trickiest aspects of great storytelling is knowing what the point of your story is. It’s tricky because we don’t always know what the point is when we first come up with the idea for the story and then we don’t know how to articulate the point so that it’s memorable.

A neat way to help yourself see the difference between the story, and the point of the story, is by completing the two parts of this sentence:

The story is about… (insert events and circumstances); but it’s really about… (insert the universal insight or learning from the story).

For the past several years, I’ve been deepening my appreciation for the craft of storytelling through the craft of songwriting. Just like the kinds of stories that we tell for leadership, coaching, influence, teaching, and sales, songs are another form of storytelling that need to get their point across in just a few minutes.

Not all great songs have a clear point – some songs are just to convey a feeling or emotion – but when they do have a clear point, they are also very, very powerful and memorable. And you can clearly see the difference between the song and the point of the song by completing the two parts of the sentence:

The song is about… (insert events and circumstances); but it’s really about… (insert the universal insight or learning from the song).

The cool parallel between stories and songs is why I now perform a few of my songs as part of my keynotes and presentations.

Not only do they add to the entertainment value of the event, but the songs I perform demonstrate how the point comes across in a powerful and memorable way.

Next week, I’ll be in Austin delivering the opening keynote for a conference of digital marketers, and a few days later I’ll be in Kansas City delivering the opening keynote for an audience of financial institutions. Despite the fact that these are very, very different audiences, storytelling is a universal skill that benefits them both equally.

Here are the two songs I plan to perform in both keynotes…

Let the Wild Orchids Grow

Inspired by my annual motorcycle adventures, Let the Wild Orchids Grow tells the story of a fictitious encounter I had with a ‘mountain man on two wheels, with flies between his teeth’; but it’s really about staying true to your dreams – ‘Gotta live the life you choose, and choose the life you live.’

You can listen to the full band version of the song on the streaming platform of your choice at https://michelneraymusic.com/stream-social

2024 ALBUM cover Stories in the Drawer

Stories in the Drawer is not fictitious at all. It tells the story of how, as a child, I learned about the very real and horrific experiences of my father as a soldier in the French Foreign Legion in WWII; but it’s really about… well, maybe you can tell me what you think it’s about when I release it in the next few months as a single. (And btw, my father’s the one on the far left, with his hand over his mouth.)

In the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Spotify, Apple, YouTube, or wherever you listen to music, and also follow me to be notified of concert dates, at https://michelneraymusic.com/concert-dates

Of course, if you’d like me to talk AND sing about storytelling to help you leverage this super important skill at your conference, I’d be happy to put you in touch with a really great speakers bureau!

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Michel Neray


What really drives me is helping companies and individuals to drill down to the core of their unique value and differentiation, and then craft their Essential Message' that attracts and connects with audiences and stakeholders... including customers, investors, strategic partners, and top talent. As a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant for over 30 years, I've worked with leaders and sales teams in more than nine countries around the world, from Montreal to Moscow, and from Israel to Iran.

I love to lead workshops, speak at conferences, and work with clients one on one.... as much as I love to spend time with family, paddle whitewater, ride my motorcycle (hard), and write and perform my songs...

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