So you’re at a networking event and someone asks, “What’s your story?”
Or you’re attending a marketing workshop where the leader insists, “You’ve got to tell your story.”
Or you’re being interviewed for a podcast and the host says, “So let’s start with this question: What’s your story?”
How would you answer this question?
Would you find yourself stopped cold, wondering what to say?
Would you bring up your tried-and-true rags to riches hero’s journey story?
These two tips will help you move from story to sale.
Tip #1: Ask the question, “What do they really want to know?”
Most of the time you tell your story to create a context for your audience.
They want to know, “Why are you here?”
So let’s say you’re being interviewed for a podcast or telesummit. Ideally, you’ve got your speaker kit with a series of questions for the host to ask. And you’re being asked to speak on a topic, such as, “What A Lawyer Can Tell You About Buying A Condo,” or ,”How To Organize Your Home Office To Add 3 Hours To Your Day.”
For the first topic, your audience wants to know, “Are you qualified?” and, “Is it worth my time to listen?” So your story would show how you found a section in the condo docs that would have made the owner’s life a living hell…or how you helped a client negotiate an extra pet and make it legal. (The latter would certainly get my attention.)
For the second, your audience wants to know, “Is it really worth the cost of hiring an organizer?” and “Where does the time saving come in?”
Once again, what they want are stories about your clients. I bet they couldn’t care less about your story of how you lined up all your papers, scissors and craft supplies when you were in kindergarten.
Tip #2: Know when — and when not to — get personal.
Sometimes on a podcast you’re asked to provide your personal story or personal point of view. On the other hand, suppose you’re being interviewed about your own experience. For example, you might be asked to talk about how you pivoted from a corporate career to self-employment.
When you’re asked to share your experience, it’s important to come up with first-hand stories. If you don’t have a good story, ask the host if you can share client stories instead. When I talked to prospective speakers for my pivoting program, I couldn’t include anyone who wanted to offer advice instead of experience.
Alternatively, if you’ve just made a pivot yourself, you might be asked to tell your story because your audience (which might consist of just one prospective client right now) wants to justify working with you in your new capacity. Your story needs to answer questions like, “Are you serious about this new role? Have you made a commitment? What connects your new role with your previous one?”
We ran into this question in several of the pivoting stories. For instance, how does a former police detective explain why he’s now a financial planner?
By the way, I just heard a horror story about a workshop leader who insisted that everyone find a good hero’s journey story.
Don’t have one? “Make that *&#!!* up!” he apparently yelled.
Very bad advice. Audiences aren’t stupid. They can sense a fake story a mile away… and as Judge Judy says, when you tell the truth you don’t need to have a good memory.
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