As mentioned in my previous blog about the 4 stories to master telling from stage, professional stories are the most important story of all 4 of the stories. Think about when you were little and someone read to you. It started, “once upon a time, in a land far, far away…” The minute you heard that, you relaxed and listened. It’s the same in business. The minute people recognize that you’re telling a story, they relax because they know you aren’t going to sell them and they open up to you.
How To Craft Your Professional Story
Just like in folk or fairy tale, always start your professional story with a place and a time. Then develop the characters. The character is you because it’s your story. Then there is always an opposition. This could be the villain, hero, or obstacle that changes your life. Before that event, you were going along in your daily life as usual and then one day something happened (the opposition) to cause you to take a different road, or go another direction. Whatever this opposition is, it changed your life. This is where the character development of you and potentially the villain takes place in the story.
Then, you share the various defining moments (changes in your life and career) that ultimately led you to the path you are on today. In those “one-days” (defining moments), there is the problem that presents itself. You keep moving forward as you share the story to solve the problem. Then you will wrap up with the positive result that includes where you are today.
Then, I teach students to put your core message at the end. Some people call that your elevator speech. It’s the perfect sentence to add in at the end of the story. It’s the sentence that tells people what you do. Plus, it brings people full circle from where you began all the way to today.
Remember, people love rags to riches stories. Think of the stories of how people made a million dollars, lost it and then made it again. Be sure to keep in alignment with what you do today. You don’t have to go way back in the past unless it’s relevant to what you do today.
Professional Story Example
Watch the video below to hear about my professional story. I start out my story in the 1980’s in corporate America. I don’t say the city I was in because everyone has their own unique vision of what corporate America looks like. I do my character development about what life in corporate America was like for me. Then “one day” my boss told me to get out and speak. That was my first shift. I thought to myself, piece of cake, I took one speech class in College, I was good to go, or so I thought.
Then my next “one day” occurred right after the speech when a member of the audience came up and told me, “Honey, do you know that you say “Okay” after every sentence?” Though she was very kind, that one comment shifted my entire life. I realized that just because I could speak, it didn’t make me a public speaker. This experience and realization got me to respect speaking and get properly trained.
Then the third and final “one day” of this story occurred after 22 years working, I realized I was at the top in corporate America and was as far as I could go there. I decided to leave corporate America and start my public speaking training company.
Pitfalls of Storytelling
There are several pitfalls that untrained speakers often fall into. First, be aware of the length of your story. You don’t want to bore your audience. This is why you need to write, practice, rewrite, practice and practice your story over and over until you can captivate efficiently with as much impact as possible. This practice will develop you into a memorable storyteller.
Also, be sure not to leave your audience feeling sorry for you. You don’t want to create a pity party. That is a waste of your time and your audience’s time. Make sure your story effectively builds your credibility.
Once you master your professional story, your audiences will be left feeling like they know you. Remember, people buy from people they know, like, and trust.
Take speaking seriously and doors will open wider for you than you can imagine. Need some inspiration, check out an upcoming event or my book.