Telling Your Story: Part I
When job hunting, one of the first things people think about is how to tell the story of “you”. How do you wish to present yourself, summarize your character, strengths and accomplishments and ensure that the main points come out in a story. There are many other occasions however when having an up-to-date, powerful and compelling story can be important to differentiate us from others.
Anytime you encounter something new – a new role, job or team; a new co-worker or boss or group of clients – you have a choice about how you show up, present yourself and are perceived. Having your story ready to go and tailored for the audience is key.
When was the last time you took out your story and gave it a thorough inspection? Is it the best story you can tell? Is it the right story for where you are now and where you are headed? Is it accurate, up-to-date and appropriate for now? Can you name the essential elements?
Having a practiced and comprehensive story allows you to deliver focused and clear communication, no matter the audience. It generates confidence and provides a tool for reinforcing a core message.
Refresh your story by taking one giant step backwards!
Step one is collecting, editing and distilling all the raw material – meaning the foundational elements – that will inform your story. Step back far enough so you can see what is there! As with any brand analysis, we start with four categories
- Roles you play
Start with listing everything you know about yourself under each heading. Flesh it out farther by thinking what others would say about you under these headings. Then add any items you aspire to in each category. Return to these lists a few times over a few days. New ideas will come to you over time so it’s worthwhile to put it aside and then come back to it with fresh eyes. When your lists are complete work to edit them to eliminate duplication and get clarity.
The next step is to identify the THREE words which, taken together, do the best job of describing you and what sets you apart from everyone else. Why Three? Scientific research has shown that humans have the easiest time comprehending and remembering information or choices presented in groups of three. Sure its hard work to boil it all down to three words. But it’s worth the effort. Give your story a strong foundation in three elements. It will give you a head start on creating a story that is easy to grasp, resonates and is memorable.
Someone we worked with recently came up with this list….Bold Innovative Persuasive. We fleshed out each of those to ensure the full meaning was clear.
Bold…Risk-taking, Unafraid, High impact
Innovative…New thinking, Creative, Non-traditional
Persuasive…Articulate, Tenacious, Powerful
This list proved invaluable as they worked within their organization to build a new reputation and to gain a new role. The list informed their story and helped them shape both formal and every-day communications to reinforce the image they were aiming to embody and promote.
Reminding yourself of those three, easy to remember, core elements gives you a powerful resource to shape your messages and build your brand. Stay tuned, in next month’s Spark conversation we’ll be addressing how to artfully craft your story in five simple steps.