Are you, like many people, reluctant to tell your story? Research has found that your reluctance can be attributed to a number of reasons. For example, you may fear appearing weak, boring, internally focused on the negative aspects of your story, or perhaps feeling that it has nothing to do with business. Whatever the reason, you are fooling yourself and your customers by not sharing the precious gift that has shaped your life and your business or career. Consider Stevie Wonder’s words “Life only has meaning in struggle.” Her message was to share your struggle to help others find meaning, purpose and thrive.
What the experts say
People, including your customers, want to know that their business can get better and that they can live more fulfilling lives. So, sharing your story, what you learned from your failures and how you overcame your challenges can be of great value to them, even life changing. Peter Guber, President and CEO of Mandalay Bay Entertainment, believes storytelling is in our DNA. He said, “There is a treasure to be discovered, and it is inside of you.”
Effectively share your story
How do you tell your story effectively? Think about your life and the triggering events, people or moments that changed your life and set you on the path you took to be successful. You might have been in a dark place, stranded in something, or encountered what seemed like overwhelming obstacles. Don’t overlook these negative parts. To connect with your listener, you need to tell your story with all of its associated pain, frustration, obstacles, and fears or sadness. However, a key differentiator for telling a successful story is following that pain by telling how you overcame obstacles and how what you learned helped you be successful. Your story can give your customers a vision of what is and what can be in the future. Such stories can inspire listeners to take action.
Stories as a tool
Stories are a great sales tool, and your story can be useful and compelling. The stories act as simulators and allow people to experience the process and the resulting outcome mentally and emotionally. Not only do they allow them to simulate the experience, but research also shows that they activate the same area of the brain that is activated by real experience. The more vivid the image you create, the stronger the impact will be on the listener and their desire to act.
Where and how to start
When you tell your story and inspire customers to take action, opening your story should allow them to relate to you or your main character. If they can’t figure it out, they won’t care what happens next or the end of the story. Much like the movies we love, great stories have the right images and the right feeling to reach the emotional side of the listener’s brain. You want to connect with their heart first, then with their mind. When telling your story, be sure to include specific, concrete, and relevant details to transport your listener into your story. The amount of detail you include depends on your client’s personality and the situation. Either way, it should contain enough elements to create a compelling vision.
My other tip today is to make sure you focus on the main point or as the story coach Doug Lipman, says MIT, The Most Iimportant Thing. Before you jump into your story, you need to be sure why you are telling the story and what point you want to make.
Meaning and purpose
This is the meaning and purpose that Mark Twain alluded to when he said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born … and the day you know why.” Sharing your story can help your client find their purpose and introduce you to yours. Therefore, it is essential to your success to be clear about the purpose and point of your story. You can have more than one point you want to emphasize in your story, but don’t overshadow the main point with the secondary point (s). It’s easy to go on a tangent, so write your story down and practice telling it to a friend or family member before telling it to a client.
Authenticity = Inspiration
Authentic personal stories inspire customers to take action, so make sure you stay honest as this will reflect in your voice and body language. Your story can also help your customer understand information they are not familiar with. As a result, your story will help them make a decision. Remember facts and figures inform, but stories inspire. So, inspire your audience with your story.