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4 Components to Develop Stories

Note: This is the third of six blog posts detailing the developmental needs that will be addressed in the Resonare Boot Camp starting on July 16, 2020. Feel free to ask questions and to sign up!

We are natural storytellers. Before writing, all information had to be delivered orally in a form that would be memorable, have a clear direction, and come to a result that people would be satisfying for the listener and be memorable. In the field of career management, you have to do the same thing.

Whether you are writing up your LinkedIn profile, introducing yourself at a networking event, composing your cover letter or answering an interview question, we are all telling stories about us to people who might not know us well. This is our chance to put the impression we want in others’ minds.

You need to tell your stories, because most likely you were the only person who was there when it happened, and it’s your job to tell your version of it. It’s your responsibility to make the idea of what happened come alive in the mind of the audience listening to your story. Unfortunately, most people tell their stories in ways that cause people to be more interested in the game on their phone than listening to you.

I’ve written many times about different aspects of storytelling, and here are the main thing issues to consider when coming up with a story of your background.

  • Audience: What is the experience of your audience and do they even know how to enter into your background? If you’ve ever started talking with someone at a party and was lost from the beginning of them talking, you can relate. You have to think about their level of interest, understanding, and even age to tailor your story to the audience. If you can’t even get them to start listening, then it doesn’t matter what you say afterwards. Know how much they need to know now, as often it isn’t the entire story; just get them hooked.
  • Structure: When we are trying to “get the jist” of a story, we are usually trying to figure out where it’s going. I’ve often recommended people talking about their professional experience to think of themselves as the hero in a fairy tale, but they have an adventure, and I want to know where we started with “Once Upon a Time” and how we get to “Happily Ever After”. If you are speaking with a hiring manager or a great networker who needs to know your story, you need to make sure they can follow the arc of the story enough to remember it (and have a good impression of you!)
  • Show Action: No one likes someone who just sits there and lets everyone else do the work. You need to use words that are descriptive enough to show how you are someone who makes things happen. Using words like “helped” and “assisted” are really vague and makes it seem like you were just hanging around. Demonstrate that you are the action hero here!
  • Make It Visual and Repeatable: If a hiring manager with whom you just interviewed as ask by a colleague how you interviewed, what would they say? Could they remember your stories, and would they get enough detail to fill it out? A good story includes all the senses, so do you have enough substance to the story so that others can remember you positively?

The art of storytelling has repercussions in all matters of life and business, and is a key underlining skill to success in so many areas. If you get better at it, you will be seen as more dynamic in everything you do, both personally and professionally.

Come join me in the Career Boot Camp starting July 16, 2020 and our third session on Thursday, July 30 will be just this. Other posts in this series are: Clarifying Your Needs, Identifying Target Organizations, Identifying Your Personal Brand, Telling Your Stories, and Putting It All Together. There’s a limit to 25 participants, so sign up now!

Photos by You X Ventures and Mike Erskine on Unsplash

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