I love to listen to people’s personal stories. A good story is something that defines who we are. It makes us memorable. We all have experienced something in our life that makes a lasting impression. If you understand how to talk about yourself, it’s an opening for you to connect to others in a meaningful way. It’s a way that you can be used to help others that might be going through similar things.
Here a 3 different ways you can tell your story.
1. The Challenge. You overcame an obstacle to getting where you wanted to go.
2. The Eureka. An idea that came to you that changed everything.
3. The Connection. A time when you met someone or a group that had similar skills and experiences that helped you get where you wanted to go.
As much as we love to hear the stories of others, most people don’t consider themselves good storytellers. Often the reasons used are:
- ⇒I never think of it
- ⇒I tend to ramble and lose the point
- ⇒I have a hard time gauging interest
- ⇒I am never sure how much detail to use
- ⇒I don’t have good stories to share
Learning to tell stories with confidence is worth the effort. We retain stories far longer than data and have evolved to listen and learn from them. Stories support cultures of companies, organizations, and entire countries. New people learn what to do and how to fully understand through hearing the stories of others.
“A Stanford research study showed that statistics alone have a retention rate of 5-10%, but when coupled with anecdotes, the retention rate rises to 65-70%.“
Here are some tips on how to prepare to tell your story.
1. Keep a record of story content.
Get in the habit of jotting down notes about content that would make for a good story – client wins, challenges, times of perseverance, etc.
I use tools like Evernote to store new articles and my thoughts. It helps later when I am looking to write on a certain topic or prepare for a presentation.
2. Match a story with an important point.
One of the most powerful applications of stories in a work setting is for conveying messages that you want to have resonance, from widespread culture changes to personal mentoring. To use stories, you only need to pause, and remember to do so. And check that list you just made.
The next time you find yourself contemplating what words you want to say (an indicator of an important message), also consider what story would help support your points. You’ll find that it will help you communicate your message, and for the listener to hear it.
3. Practice them.
The best stories are well-told stories – because they get better with each telling.
Share your story with various groups of people and you’ll learn from each experience. You will get better each time.
For me sharing those meaningful experiences with someone that might need help makes life more rewarding.
4. Don’t try to be perfect.
Many of us strive to be perfect in so much of our lives and hide from out failures. No one wants to hear how awesome you are, or how well you nailed your goal.
Instead, we’re filled with delight by stories that involve some vulnerability. We want to hear about struggles, and how to overcome them. When you share stories, be revealing about the hurdles along the way. It’s okay to talk about success, just don’t omit what got you there.
5. Use good story structure.
A good story isn’t complicated – it’s actually quite simple. Here is some advice putting stories into a structure that has the following:
- ⇒ Clear moral or purpose – there’s a reason why you’re telling this story, to this audience, at this time
- ⇒ Personal connection – the story involves either you, or someone you feel connected to
- ⇒ Common reference points – the audience understands the context and situation of the story
- ⇒ Detailed characters and imagery – have enough visual description that we can see what you’re seeing
- ⇒ Conflict, vulnerability, or achievement we can relate to – similar to point #4, show us the challenges
- ⇒ Pacing – there’s a clear beginning, ending, and segue way back to the topic
Finally, a lesson is that you can never have enough use of stories. If you want to advance your career or business get better at telling a good story. You will be amazed how your audience wants to hear and learn more from you.
What’s your story? Everyone has one so don’t keep it to yourself. Share something you have learned in your life it just might help someone. Here’s a bit of my story… The Story Behind The Mentor+ Project.