I still remember standing next to my younger brother as our sister Abbie walked past us on her way down the aisle to get married. We both knew that we both had tears in our eyes. Luke turned to me, wiping beneath his glasses, and scolded ‘These frigging allergies…’ He made me laugh, as always.
This moment came back to me last night as I was about to speak to a room full of people – strangers to both myself and my brother. I’d been asked to give a short presentation at the inaugural Heart Foundation Alumni networking event for heart health researchers and others invested in the area.
Luke’s story is currently the centerpiece of the Heart Foundation‘s national Christmas Appeal, targeting heart disease prevention and treatment. Instead of giving a 10-minute presentation, I had decided to screen a video that I’d made for Luke earlier in the year, after which I’d speak for just a few minutes. This is the video:
The Facebook version can be found here.
A large number of those watching this video last night seemed to be experiencing similar kinds of allergic reactions that Luke and I had all those years ago. Being able to draw on this wedding anecdote immediately after the video finished was a nice reminder that Luke’s eternal sense of humour can still lighten up a room. But I wasn’t there to upset people, and I wasn’t there just to tell them more of Luke’s story.
The video spoke for itself. I wanted to talk to the audience about something else.
While my words were directed at people passionate about making a difference in the world in the context of heart health, the key message may be much more widely relevant than this. I hope you can get something out of it too. This is what I said after the video ended…
* * *
That’s Luke’s story. Just one part of it. Just my part of it. And only a small part of that.
I feel like it’s my task here tonight to tell you more of Luke’s story that’s not in the video.
I could tell you about all the fun times we had playing the Nintendo together as kids, how we played basketball together as teenagers, and, after we grew up, how we looked after our sister together when she was sick.
But I don’t just want to do that, because Luke’s story can and will only stay with you for so long. This isn’t a criticism; this is just the way it is. The way it has to be.
Because that video and anything I or others who knew Luke say about him is not really his story. Although it’s the only story he has now.
Beyond those who met Luke, who knew him, and who loved him, the power of his story has its limits. Which is why I’d prefer to encourage you to look inward to find your own stories. And perhaps then look outward to find ways to share them.
Ask yourself how you might tell part of your story; how you might share your passion for heart health better with those close to you and those in the wider communities you’re connected to.
I teach social media, so it’s my job to find new ways to tell stories to engage, inform, and educate audiences. The ways to do this in a digital world are constantly changing, and the audience is increasingly difficult to reach. I’m happy to be contacted by anyone here for a conversation about using social media if it would help, but telling your story doesn’t only have to be about communicating online.
And you don’t have to dig too deeply or give up any of your privacy in order to tell some of your story. This might involve something as small as an anecdote at the start of a presentation you give, or a few lines to preface an article you share on Facebook. It doesn’t have to be a blog or a podcast or a complex video. Even something small can still mean something to someone, if you offer it.
After tonight, you’re going to be emailed the links to a Facebook and YouTube version of my brother’s video, which, if you would like to, I welcome you to share with others. But don’t just share Luke’s story. Whether or not you do it right away, think about how you might share part of yours as well. That’s how you’ll really connect with people. That’s how you’ll really get the message across. It might only take a moment, but it might just mean something, to someone.
And now, if you’ll permit me to take a selfie, this moment can now be part of my story too…
* * *
On the way out of the building, one of the event’s participants was waiting by the side of the street for his ride. He walked over to me, offered his sympathies, thanked me for sharing Luke’s story, and said it had struck a chord in him because he too has a brother he’s very close to. I simply said, ‘Well there’s part of your story.’
The rest is up to him.