The choice of Sarah Elkins was inspired. Her emphasis that we need to think more carefully as advocates about how we are perceived, that we need to demonstrate our values authentically (and bravely) so as to build trust, was perhaps more important than all the specific storytelling tools discussed. Her discussion of the psychology of connecting with audiences was a wonderful contribution by MWCC to our collective self-awareness and empathy. Thank you for choosing her as your keynote speaker.
— Montana Watershed Symposium Guest
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Sarah provided a keynote speech at the 2018 Montana Watershed Symposium and we couldn’t have been happier. This is a biennial event hosted by the Montana Watershed Coordination Council that brings together local watershed organizations, conservation groups, and state and federal agencies to help solve some of the pressing conservation issues facing Montana. Our theme for 2018 was Advancing Conservation through Effective Communication, a bit of a hedge on basing the conference on storytelling, which seemed a bit too squishy for some of our more science oriented partners. Any reservations on the need for better storytelling in the work we do was quickly put to bed after Sarah gave her keynote. We got immediate positive feedback and there was a buzz in the room from the lightbulbs going off in people’s heads. We can’t be effective in watershed conservation work if we can’t directly connect with people through shared stories and experiences.
— Eric Trumm, Board Member, Montana Watershed Coordination Council
Bicentennial Library hosted Sarah for a customer service training, that is still talked about more than a year later. The Smile is Free work shop is crucial to any agency that works with public. Her examples of customer interaction and identifying the needs of customers, have been very helpful to myself and my staff. I will definitely hire Sarah again in the near future.
— MaryKay Bullard Branch Director at Bicentennial Library of Colstrip, Montana

Keynotes, Workshops, and Performance

A high energy, engaging speaker and performer, Sarah can speak on a variety of topics related to communication and personal development.

Primary Topics

Storytelling: Performance of a relevant story for your audience

Begin or end your event with a storyteller who really knows how to engage and entertain your audience. From difficult work situations, to family and children, marriage, singing professionally, travel, and outdoor recreation, Sarah has a wide range of stories to share. Your audience will experience a spectrum of emotion from joy and excitement to grief and resilience. Here are some samples of Sarah's storytelling performances:

 Click on this image to hear the story!

Click on this image to hear the story!

 Click on this image to hear the story!

Click on this image to hear the story!

Your stories don't define you. How you share them will.

Whether you're telling your stories to yourself, or sharing them with others, how you remember them and tell them impacts your perception of yourself, and the perception others have of you. Call it a personal brand, a professional brand, or a reputation, your stories help connect people to you and become ambassadors for your and your services. Being intentional about which stories to tell and how, can reduce the gap between how you think you're being perceived and how you're actually being perceived, making it easier to develop stronger relationships.

Improve Sales through Storytelling

It's one thing to be able to share a relevant story in order to connect authentically with an audience. It's an entirely different thing to know how to draw out the stories of the people around you, and that's where Elkins Consulting provides a unique value proposition.

Interactive workshops and breakout sessions are our specialty. Your participants will leave with clear strategies for sharing the right stories, with the right level of vulnerability, in order to draw out the stories of their potential customers. When your sales and executive teams can share stories and draw out the stories of the people around them, they will find much deeper connections and improved communication in every environment.

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  Storytelling to Improve Sales Arbonne Regional Sales Leadership Retreat, Bozeman, MT

Storytelling to Improve Sales
Arbonne Regional Sales Leadership Retreat, Bozeman, MT

storytelling to improve communication

  Build Confidence to Stand Out Women's Leadership Network, Helena, Helena, MT

Build Confidence to Stand Out
Women's Leadership Network, Helena, Helena, MT

The data confirms what we've known since the beginning of humanity: Stories connect us and define us as individuals and communities. If your organization is not capturing the value in your story and the stories of your employees and customers, you're missing a huge opportunity to truly connect internally and with your external stakeholders and clients. Your story is unique, and how you share it matters. Sarah will bring this topic to life with practical strategies for sharing stories in a variety of methods and platforms, developing the right stories for the right audiences, and examples and exercises for your audience to practice and perfect.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Even those who regularly step out of their comfort zones will find this topic engaging and relevant. Sarah will share solid strategies and examples for the participants to implement in their daily lives. A comfort zone isn't just a location, and stepping out of it allows room for creativity, improved communication skills, and personal growth.

  Step Out From Your Comfort Zone Women's Leadership Network Annual Conference

Step Out From Your Comfort Zone
Women's Leadership Network Annual Conference


Communication & Customer Service Workshops

Goals

  • Enhance internal, professional relationships through improved communication.

  • Encourage active listening and a compassionate approach to customers.

  • Improve social relationships inside and outside work, which will reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Developing the potential of community connections will improve overall health & happiness.

Primary Topics

Image: Communication through introspection and perception of others

Perception is all parts of communication, beginning with physical image through clothes, hair, etc. Physical communication through body language, facial expression, environment/location. Expressing understanding and empathy requires recognition of social and physical cues, both personally and in others. Empathy requires observation of motivation and emotion in others.

Verbal & Written: Communication in person, on the phone, email, social media, blog

Sentence structure, choice of language, passive voice (uh, um, ah, I think), efficient & persuasive communication, cultural and social expectations in professional & social environments.

Speak Visually: Your words are more memorable if they invoke an image

Using visual speech and storytelling leaves an impression. Communicating through telling stories, knowing which stories to share and how (what media), understanding your audience, planning ahead. Better storytelling will help those around us understand and appreciate our differences in culture and expectations. Telling stories as narratives of personal experience will stick in the memories of listeners. Some level of humility and vulnerability helps create empathy and perspective in cultural context and characteristics, similarities and differences. 

This class enabled me to give a more friendly, courteous, and empathetic response, helping to de-escalate a situation after actively listening to a customer’s complaint.
— Ken Saunders, Helena Parking Commission, City of Helena Montana