“There is no story without a listener.” So says filmmaker, storyteller and MBA David Sauvage. He told me there are two ways people write the story that is their resume or business plan.
“In the first they think: What material do I have and how can I assemble it and say the things that I think are important? Then they assemble that material prioritizing the things they think are important and hand them off to the person they want to read it: who says huh, ok, and just maybe: tell me more. The truth is nobody actually cares who you are or what you’re trying to say.”
But according to Sauvage, the good storyteller approaches it immediately from the perspective and emotions of the person listening to the story. “They say to themselves: If I’m the listener – what is going to engage me the most? The question should not be: what is this resume and what are the important facts about it? That’s the wrong place to start from. The question should be: how can I get somebody excited about this resume?”
Even though you might not have met your listener, you still need to have one in mind, “otherwise your unconscious is assembling some kind of arbitrary audience derived from your insecurities,” says Sauvage. “When I read incoming communications from people I often have to ask myself: Who do they think I am and what is it they want me to feel? Then I end up having to do their work for them. Who wants to work with somebody when you’re already doing their work? That’s already your nightmare.”
It is critical to have your listener in mind when picking the elements of your story. “People tend to report things according to the amount of emotional charge they have. If you have slogged through some enormously difficult project and managed to pull it off at the wire, then that’s going to occupy a large stake on your resume irrespective of the experience of the reader. It could be that the thing you did in 5 minutes, putting together some deal that to you was super-easy, is actually the single most impressive thing you’ve ever done from the listener’s point of view.”
So his advice: “Stop looking at it from your own small prism and look at it from the point of view of the other person. All of a sudden things will open up. Things will get easier.”