How to succeed at telling your personal story

Story telling text title on film slate with orange background

Leslie Fiorenzo gives her top tips on ensuring that you really are heard

Since the dawn of time humans have used stories to communicate and influence each other. The ability to tell a compelling personal story is a valuable skill that can set you apart from the crowd.

Never make a point without a story and never tell a story without a point

Whether you’re pitching a product, leading a team, or seeking investment, your narrative can establish a connection with your audience, making your message more memorable and impactful. In this article, we’ll explore the key elements and strategies to help you succeed at telling your personal story in a business context.

1. Understanding you’re audience

The first step in crafting a successful personal story is understanding your audience. Of course, you want to consider the demographics, industry, and background of your audience. More importantly consider psychographics which are their values, interests, and needs.

Tailor your message so it is relatable and meaningful to them. This foundational knowledge will guide you in selecting the most relevant and compelling aspects of your personal journey.

2. Crafting a central message

Before diving into the details of your personal story, identify the core message you want to convey. What do you want your audience to take away from your tale? Whether it’s resilience, innovation, or leadership, a clear and focused message will anchor your story and make it more impactful. Creating a central theme will serve as a guiding light, helping you stay on track and connect with your audience.

3. Creating a compelling opening

Capturing your audience’s attention from the start is crucial. Craft a compelling opening that sparks interest and sets the tone for your story. This could be an anecdote, a surprising fact, or a thought-provoking question.

The goal is to make your audience curious and eager to hear more. A strong opening will create a sense of anticipation and engagement, laying the foundation for a memorable narrative.

4. Building emotional connections

Avoid starting by thanking the audience, a comment about the venue or the weather, or an irrelevant joke. A few years ago a speaker at our local Chamber of Commerce event started with a comment he thought was humorous and followed it by saying, “I was told to start with something funny, so I did.” Wow, he misinterpreted that advice. Yes, a funny story or a joke can lead to audience engagement when it relates to the topic of the presentation. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience at the beginning of the presentation.

We like to think that people are creatures of logic when in fact we are creatures of emotion. Remember facts tell; stories sell. Share personal experiences, challenges, and triumphs that your audience can empathise with. Be authentic and vulnerable, allowing your audience to see the human side of you. Foster an emotional connection with your audience creating trust and relatability, making your story more memorable and resonant.

Never make a point without a story and never tell a story without a point. Include your journey of growth and learning while highlighting the challenges you faced, the lessons you learned, and the personal or professional development that ensued. This not only makes your story more dynamic but also positions you as someone who can adapt and overcome obstacles—a valuable quality in the business world.

5. Using vivid imagery

Paint a vibrant picture with your words. Use descriptive language and vivid imagery to transport your audience into the scenes of your story. A Thesaurus is a useful tool in finding alliterative words to engage their senses and emotions. The one my grandmother gave me when I was in 7th grade is within reach when I am creating a presentation. There are free electronic versions available.

Let’s compare a couple of examples.

You could say: “The team won the championship”.

Or you could say: “The team’s incredible victory in the championship filled the players with overwhelming joy and pride”.

Here’s another example: “I received a promotion at work.”

Or: “I was overjoyed to receive a well-deserved promotion at work.“

A well-crafted sequence of events and rich details leaves a lasting impression. Design your personal story to be compelling and memorable.

6. Considering tone

The tone of your personal story and needs to align with your overall message and the context of your presentation. Whether you choose a motivational tone, a reflective tone, or a humorous tone, consistency is key. A cohesive tone will enhance the flow of your narrative and create a more polished and professional presentation.

7. Practicing effective storytelling

Effective storytelling requires practice. Rehearse your personal story multiple times to refine your delivery, pacing, and gestures. Consider recording yourself or practising in front of a trusted colleague or mentor. Feedback from others can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement. Continuous refinement is the key to delivering a polished and impactful personal narrative.

Storytelling at work

Mastering the art of telling your personal story can elevate your business presentations, communication skills and leave a lasting impression on your audience. When you know your audience, identify a core message, create a compelling opening, establish an emotional connection, showcase growth, use vivid imagery, maintain a consistent tone, and practice diligently, you can succeed in constructing a personal story that resonates and enhances your professional presence. Embrace the power of storytelling and watch as your personal narrative becomes a powerful tool in sharing your business.

Leslie Fiorenzo is a Business Presentation Coach at her company Leslie Fiorenzo Enterprises

Leslie Fiorenzo

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