O’Reilly? O’MAZING!

by Kim Norman, UFV Communications Department

Terry O'Reilly sharing "The Power of Storytelling" at UFV March 1
Terry O’Reilly sharing “The Power of Storytelling” at UFV

Saying that CBC presenter Terry O’Reilly’s recent visit to UFV was a success IS telling a tale out of school. And, it’s a tale worth telling.

UFV students, staff, faculty and community members from the lower mainland came together on Tuesday, March 1 in the Great Hall of UFV’s new Student Union Building (the SUB) to hear Terry showcase some of his best stories and storytelling advice.

Early in the day, Terry treated a very full house of students and their instructors to a private presentation on “Elevator Pitches”. He thoroughly entertained with accounts of his past work experiences, marketing slogan successes, and colourful career highlights.

Edu-tainment, courtesy of Terry O’Reilly
Edu-tainment, courtesy of Terry O’Reilly

He shared the highs and lows of his efforts to pitch his “No More Fiddling on the Roof” campaign, and he encouraged students to persist in finding meaningful careers with a story about once sending out 60 resumes that returned 61 rejection letters.

Terry responded to UFV students’ questions with great insights on the use of silence in presentations (he warned that “silence smells like fear”), the success of the Wheaties diamond campaign, and the role of elevator pitches in job interviews.

Terry also emphasized the importance of “learning by doing” when public speaking. He expressed disappointment that presentation skills are not taught more often in advertising-related courses. Terry said students would benefit greatly from taking public speaking courses, and he complimented UFV for offering them.

UFV students can take CMNS 235, a popular public speaking class, as a separate course or as part of a Professional Communications Essentials Certificate or a Communications Minor.

An engaged audience of over 400 sharing the power of stories
An engaged audience of over 400 sharing the power of stories

Terry returned to the stage in the afternoon to present “The Power of Storytelling”. This talk was part of the UFV President’s Leadership Lecture Series.

He engaged and inspired the 400+ people in attendance with captivating stories of hit marketing campaigns and the principles behind them. Those lucky enough to get a seat for the sold-out event probably found themselves sharing Terry’s words later in the week – and are probably still sharing them.

What Spock is to Kirk, reason is to feeling: stories must be understood and felt if they are to live long and prosper.
What Spock is to Kirk, reason is to feeling: stories must be understood and felt if they are to live long and prosper

Some of his memorable advice included:

“Great things are not written they are rewritten.”
“Stories resound for years or penetrate in seconds.”
“Words contain the seeds of change.”
“Customer service IS marketing.”
“The best marketers are the best listeners.”
“Storytelling makes people care.”
“‘It’s good enough’ is the enemy of everything.”
“Make people feel your message, not just understand it.”

Readers who didn’t get to #TerryintheValley or those who want to recapture the event can go to UFV’s Storify. For more Terry O’Reilly, listen to his much-acclaimed Under the Influence broadcasts on CBC radio.

As for a repeat visit from Terry one day, so he (and we) can tell more of his tales out of our school?

O’yes, please.



Kim Norman is an Assistant Professor in the Communications Department at the University of the Fraser Valley. She has particular interests in popularization and the links between writing, rhetoric, and culture. Kim’s work in the non-profit sector, magazine industry, and education gives her almost 20 years of workplace and academic writing experience to draw on in her teaching of writing and research practices. Kim’s a firm believer that a commitment to education doesn’t just open doors—it reveals new ones.

1 thought on “O’Reilly? O’MAZING!”

  1. Really happy that the students got a lot out of the event, and not least of all – being inspired. Thanks Kim for the great posting.

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