We all love a good story, don’t we? Whether it is in the form of a movie, TV programme, book, poem or even a Facebook post; stories are a central part of how we communicate and make sense of our world.
Stories have been in existence long before recorded history. In 1940, a group of French children discovered a series of cave paintings in the Lascaux Caves in the Pyrenees Mountains, dating back to sometime between 15,000 and 13,000 B.C. which depict a variety of animals and one image of a human being along with rituals and hunting practices. Quite simply the paintings tell a story.
Fast forward to the modern day business world and we find no finer example of an expert storyteller than Steve Jobs. He was keenly aware of the power of storytelling. Jobs spent hours on the details of his presentations; making edit after edit until he was convinced he had the right narrative. People were dazzled by his ability to create and deliver inspiring messages. No clever PowerPoint or Prezzi effects – just plain old storytelling!
So being adept at telling stories can help entrance an audience when presenting but what other uses do they have within the business world? With this in mind Morgan, Jess and myself recently travelled to the University of Essex to run a series of Masterclasses for the Graduate Class of 2016. The sessions were aimed at recent Graduates who have yet to secure a graduate level position. Our aim was to go beyond just helping them craft “ideal” answers to interview questions but to help them tell their story to potential employers in a way that made them memorable, engaging and stand out in a very crowded market.
There is much anecdotal evidence from Graduate recruiters that whilst applicants can look fantastic on paper, they often fail in a face to face interview to fully articulate who they are and how they meet the criteria for the advertised position. With this in mind the second session of the day focused on “How to tell your story”.
Participants were asked to answer the question – “Tell me about yourself?” and after some preparation time were invited to share their story with the rest of the group. Using their excellent coaching skills, Morgan and Jess worked with the group to help them craft stories that were full of emotional connection and demonstrated their passions rather than the usual pedestrian “hello my name is… I am from… and I studied…”
Morgan and Jess demonstrated that by weaving a narrative using nouns, adjectives and verbs we can lift our stories from being dry and heavily reliant on facts to something that excites the listener and makes them want to recount the story to another person.
Follow these 3 simple rules and you will have an unforgettable story:
- Nouns – Are the facts which form the foundation of your story and help build your credibility
- Adjectives – Help paint a picture, give your story texture and create an emotional connection with your audience
- Verbs – Help to give a sense of movement, action and energy; create momentum
By the end of the session the transformation in participants answering that hackneyed question “Tell me about yourself” was nothing short of magical. Instead of droning monologues, participants delivered answers that revealed their individual motivations, values, passions and achievements. I have to admit that some of the stories were so powerful they brought a tear to my eye!
From Morgan, Jess and myself we wish the Graduate class of 2016 the very best of luck in pursuing their dreams and hope they keep telling their wonderful stories.
If you would like to know more about how storytelling can make a difference to your presentation, influencing, communication or leadership skills, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you – “what’s your story?”