Ceresa Mentorship Top News

The Art of Storytelling

"As Mentors, this is our gift. It’s one thing to give advice and articulate the “shoulds...” – it’s another thing entirely to open up and share our unique and precious experiences… the times when we thrived, and often more importantly, the times when we’ve stumbled..."


From the Event: Top Three Tips for Powerful Storytelling

  1. Tell your stories with intention… clearly understand why you’re sharing that particular story.
  2. Gauge when your audience is truly ready for your story… and when they’re not. Vulnerability is powerful, but it can backfire.
  3. And of course, practice! The more you practice telling your stories, the more impact you’ll be able to create.

Every once in a while, we run across situations where everything just clicks… there’s a gathering of incredible people talking about important, powerful things, with laughter, empathy, even a few tears. It’s magical to watch…

I had the absolute pleasure of experiencing just such an evening at our recent intimate Mentor Community gathering, The Art of Storytelling. To frame the evening (with the help of Sir Ian McKellen – see video above), we introduced the idea of storytelling and how core it is to our very humanity… from earliest man and throughout the ages, stories have kept us safe, made us laugh, and helped us learn.

“You can’t argue with a story.”

Marjorie Clifton

As Mentors, this is our gift. It’s one thing to give advice and articulate the “shoulds…” – it’s another thing entirely to open up and share our unique and precious experiences… the times when we thrived, and often more importantly, the times when we’ve stumbled. Thoughtfully sharing our journeys empowers our mentees (and friends!) to feel community and connection, and the ownership of how to apply it to their lives.

The cornerstone of the event was a moderated panel discussion highlighting three incredible women leaders… and storytellers: renowned strategist and communications expert Marjorie Clifton, agency CEO and TEDx speaker Leslie Wingo, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Sara Hirsh Bordo.

The conversation ranged far and wide… from what types of stories resonate with us to what barriers prevent authentic storytelling. Following are a few of my favorite comments:

  • “You can’t argue with a story.” Marjorie shared how thoughtfully using stories can immediately defuse tense situations by acknowledging our human experience and allowing your audience to truly “hear” and connect with your message.
  • “Summon the brave.” Sara has the unique position of interviewing people who’ve dealt with incredible challenges, and she takes real joy in seeing women “summon their brave” and step into their stories.
  • “Beautiful, messy, authentic stories. I mostly recall stories about humans at their absolute best.” Leslie Wingo on what kind of stories deeply resonate with her.

“Summon the brave.”

Sara Hirsh Bordo

To bring things full circle, we closed the evening with an opportunity for everyone to practice writing – and sharing – their own personal stories using the famed Pixar story structure. We were absolutely blown away by the vulnerability and power of our audience speakers.

Can’t wait for the next one…

Nicole Tanzillo is the Co-founder and COO of Ceresa, a tech-enabled, research-based mentorship platform for women leaders. Leading product, operations, and marketing, she focuses her energy on creating an engaging, high-impact end-to-end experience for Ceresa mentees and mentors.

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