Have your stories ready

Pitching an idea? Looking for a job? Facing an interview? Then tell stories. This simple and time-honored technique lies at the heart of the way to sell yourself and your ideas.

Tell your stories. Tell stories that will suck people in, make their eyes open wider and then watch them lean in and want to hear more.

If you choose your stories well – which incidentally I insist that you do – then each of these stories will, as subtext, tell the story of you that you want to tell. Tell of things that you did in your career, of successes and excitements. (Donʼt bother with the disasters and the failures – the story of how you were not able to sell your great idea will work against you, however good the idea may have been.)

Make them vivid and specific – name names and brands and programs and networks. If you have worked in another country, if you have built a business or started from scratch or developed a team – have the story ready. When you do this you will find that the stories engage not only the listener, but also you the storyteller. Telling your stories will give you energy you didnʼt know you had, and that will be infectious.

I am working with a client who is enormously accomplished but had been talking about herself in generalizations. Even she was bored when she talked about herself. We worked on choosing some stories that would speak volumes about her value and experience. We talked about picking from among them, the stories that would work for a particular situation or interviewer. We talked about how the
stories she told would add up to a compelling picture of who she is and what sheʼs done and what value she brings: in specifics not in generalizations.

My client had an interview yesterday. She told me today that it was a “Great” interview.” “Why?” I asked. “Because for the first time in an interview I told stories. Telling them gave me a confidence that I never had. And while usually I feel I am too quiet, this gave me energy.”

So think about the stories from your career. Pick the ones that you get excited about and frame them so that they frame you brilliantly. And tell them.