But Remembered My Story
Whether you’re selling a product or service or presenting yourself in a job search, storytelling is your best strategy for powerfully enrolling others in your goal. Find me someone who will remember the facts from your resume and I’ll be surprised, but a well-told story is a memory that can last a lifetime.
So make them laugh, cry, cringe in empathy, or nod approvingly when you give your pitch. Making a powerful emotional connection to your audience through story telling ensures they will really listen to your ideas and remember you. How do you come up with a powerful story and relate it to a specific business outcome? This is a best-kept secret of business communication that separates interview success from a string of rejections. It takes time and a very specific process to discover, develop, and deliver your story with authenticity and without seeming scripted. Teaching clients how to do this is challenging, but I’ve got it down to a science. I recommend clients immediately add this powerful tool to their business communication. Here are the highlights.
4 Steps to Being Unforgettable
- Think back to your greatest achievements (even if they were in high school)
- Identify what business skill enabled you to succeed (being organized, strategic, detail oriented)
- Make a note of anything you can measure in dollars, time, percentage, ratings or rankings
- Capture the specific outcome of the accomplishment
Working together, we will make this process easy. Once you record this information for as many successes as you can recall, it is time to tell the story to a friend who can let you know what part of the tale gets their attention the most. I call this a “WOW” moment which becomes the crux of the story. Next, I will assist you to refine and diagram your stories into a graphic illustration. The picture will give you a central theme plus four key related points to communicate your story with ease and flair. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, pick the stories that best represent the qualities you seek to convey. There is no limit to the number of stories you can create and they will serve you for a lifetime in a multitude of situations. The graphic enables you to recall the story in five words and those are all the notes you will need moving forward. This approach forces you to put the description in your own words with a conversational tone ensuring that it does not come off as scripted. The storytelling approach has helped my clients really stand out in a variety of situations. Here is one of my favorite client success stories.
Working with a colleague for over 10 years in a large corporation, I observed her in many technical and project-oriented situations. She was accomplished and skilled in many areas. After I opened my own company, my colleague continued her corporate career as a leader in several Fortune 100 companies. I met up with her again in 2014 to prepare her resume and make a contingency plan in case her company closed the regional headquarters where she worked. I showed her the process for identifying success stories and she got much more than she ever expected from the consult. One of my favorite WOW stories of all time is her description of how she circled the wagons with her team when potential layoffs were announced.
Leading on a Sinking Ship
As the authority figure in her region, this leader held weekly meetings to explain the steps and progress of the company’s plans to close the site. Then she met 1-on-1 with each person to go over their job search strategies if the changes came to pass. Throughout the next four months, this leader kept the daily lines of communication open by being visible and verbal. She asked the team to think about what they would want to tell a prospective employer in an interview regarding their performance during this stressful situation. She encouraged her staff to put their best foot forward, do exemplary work so they could hold their heads high, and present themselves powerfully for repositioning within the company or in an external job search. This woman did a great service to everyone, including the company. The team had the highest region-wide production during the quarter after possible layoffs were announced. A staff member told her that even if they had to be on the Titanic, they were happy to be there with her as their leader.
How this Helps You with a Job Search
I will never forget this story and I’ve told it to several executives I thought would love to hire a tremendous leader for their organization. Too bad her company is not letting her go. Now, with this and other powerful stories, she is writing her own ticket within her company and has landed external interviews two levels higher than her current title. This is the power of success stories that inspire those around us and most importantly ourselves. Everyone has a story to tell and uncovering your potential and bringing it to life with language is critical to reaching your goals. I hope this piece gets you started on that path and if you need help, consider my services.