Episode 148

How Sharing Your Story Can Help Break Down Barriers

It’s the second round of selecting speakers for an upcoming TEDx event. I’m there with our committee on either side of me, facing a speaker standing in front of us. I ask her:

“Why are you the right person to speak on this topic?”

She says she’s not a professional speaker. She doesn’t like being on stage at all, and in fact, her knees are shaking just talking to us.

And then she goes on:

“This issue of human trafficking in our city is vitally important. It is dangerous, and we need to raise awareness on what’s happening, how it’s happening, why it’s happening, and what we can do about it. No one else was coming to talk about this so here I am.”

Because of her expertise on this topic, her commitment to affecting change and her role within the city, she was selected to speak at this particular upcoming TEDx event.

Sometimes, it’s the conversations we don’t want to have that are the most necessary. Tackling delicate, even dangerous issues is where change can begin with a new perspective, insight, or action. 

It all starts with a story. 

And my special guest today, James Joyce III, has direct experience with having delicate conversations. In this episode of the Storytelling School Podcast, you’ll hear about his perspective on telling tough stories and get answers to questions like:

How can stories break down barriers? How has music served as a cultural storytelling vehicle for Black Americans? And what role does storytelling play in being a journalist or political candidate?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How sharing your story through conversations can spark a movement
  • How an iconic superhero slogan reflects a journalistic approach to storytelling 
  • What five guiding principles of story engagement you should follow

Who is James Joyce III?

Originally from Maryland, James Joyce III is an award-winning journalist, educator, public servant, civil rights activist, and social entrepreneur. He founded Coffee with a Black Guy (CWABG) which serves as a safe place for interactive, community conversations about a variety of issues from the perspective of a Black man. It’s been a growing, grassroots effort hosted by him and his team to help put an end to racism.

Known as a sturdy leader and champion for justice, Joyce has served on various advisory boards in the Santa Barbara area. For much of the past decade, he was District Director for California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Ret.), who represented nearly 1 million constituents within Santa Barbara and Ventura counties until December 2020. Currently, he’s serving as adjunct faculty for the Santa Barbara City College Career Skills Institute. He’s also on the board for the Common Table Foundation (formerly the Lois and Walter Capps Project), Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara, TV Santa Barbara, as well as the national board for Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB).

Joyce was runner-up in the 2021 Santa Barbara mayoral election, securing 27 percent of the votes cast among six candidates. Now, Joyce leverages more than two decades of public service and journalism experience to provide impactful insight for groups and individuals seeking to gain better cross-cultural understanding.

Want to take your storytelling skills to the next level?

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The best storytellers are memorable for a reason.

Traver Boehm

2-time TEDx Speaker, Author, Coach, and Founder of the Uncivilized Movement

Mo Barrett

TEDx Speaker, Anecdotist, Connector, Mischief-maker, Retired Military Commander, Keynote Speaker

Katy Stevens

Musician, Performer, Recording Artist, Voice Teacher

Greg Smith

TEDx Youngstown Organizer and Voice Coach, Chairman and CCO of Compco

Than Baardson

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Connector, CEO of Unseen, Humanitarian

Cathy Sommerville

TEDx Speaker, Coach, Advisor, Leader, Author, Vice President


I'm ready to stand out!