The Power of Your Story with Johanna Walker

Johanna Walker is the fear-blasting, storytelling maven for coaches, consultants, leaders, and change-makers. She’s the founder of Women Who Speak, a transformational speaker coaching program for female leaders, and co-founder of Boulder, Colorado’s popular story slam series, Truth Be Told. She has toured her own theater pieces throughout the US and Canada. She holds an M.Ed. from Kent State University, an MFA from Naropa University, and a WholeSpeak Public Speaking Coach certification.

Here are a few of the big topics we talked about:

  • Kelly introduces Johanna and welcomes her to the show

  • Johanna is helping women share their stories and step into their power by combining the inner voice with the spoken voice

  • Johanna’s journey unfolded over many years as she discovered the power of her story

  • She began as a very quiet girl and young adult who rarely spoke but had her voice in written form as a poet. She wrote primarily about her experience in a world of quiet and silence.

  • She emerged as a speaker when unexpectedly and despite her fears, she read one of her own poems at an event

  • It connected her with others with the same story; their resonance and feedback made Johanna begin to realize that it mattered to share her story through her poems

  • The voice that tells you “I don’t matter” doesn’t go away overnight, but you can take the power from that voice by telling your stories

  • Discerning when, what, and how to tell by following the impulse and honoring the narrative of truth over the narrative of fear

  • Johanna also accessed the wisdom of her body and the stories stored there through dance improvisation, further developing her voice and confidence in story telling

  • She shares some insight on the power of stories for those who are new to storytelling

  • She emphasized that a powerful story doesn’t have to be a trauma

  • If you tell a benign story from your heart it’s going to make a difference for somebody

  • The act of storytelling is transformative for both sides of the equation - the teller and the audience. Remember the intention for the audience to be touched by hearing it

  • Hold the question, “why is it going to be important that it’s going to be heard?” in your awareness when developing a story

  • Johanna’s advice for everyone expanding their comfort zone in storytelling: take risks, play, expand the range of expression; let vulnerability and more of who you are come forward; be willing to be uncomfortable, stay present

  • Take comfort in fact that the voice lives in the whole body - think embodied speaking

  • Watch for residual shame and humility so it can peel away back to who you really are

  • Periods of silence and stillness are a way to connect to body and breath

In Johanna’s Voice:

“At that point, a lot of my writing was about my experience of silence and my world of quietness…”

“All those experiences get stored in my body, so all those stories are there.”

“Dig a little deeper and trust what arises.”

“In telling the story, it is transformational for the teller. We can be changed.”

“Part of the transformation is in you hearing the story. I want you to hear it.”

“By expanding the range of expression through improv theater, I have more access to my expressive capability when I come back to talking.”

“Take the story of safety away, really be present with the feeling.”

“Discern between the feeling of ‘I’m not safe’ and the reality of being safe.”

Connect with Johanna: