Do people believe you when you tell your story?
No matter how many great takeaways folks have from our Executive Storytelling workshop, in the end it comes down to not only how well you tell your story, but also whether people actually believe it. (Shameless promotion: next workshop April 30, Vancouver!).
Being credible is what it is all about. We know that on the continuum of personal relationships, others will only listen to you and ultimately respect you, when they first of all trust you. Telling your story in a believable, honest manner is critical to connecting you, your services, your company or your products to your audience.
Of course the best way to be believable, is to believe! If you don’t believe in your story, no one else will. Failure has most consistently shown up in my life when I was trying to tell a story that I did not actually believe. Years ago, I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be a respiratory technologist. My feeble attempt was a stunning failure and no wonder: how does not having science credits, not liking hospital or clinical environments and having no love for the field, load up into a credible story? I couldn’t convince myself, much less anyone else.
When I have believed my story myself it has resonated with a true passion and landed with my audience. I think of talking to potential clients about the career transition work I love, for example. Or convincing big corporations to contribute money to Vancouver’s quest to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games when the bid was a mere glimmer in the eyes of a few who believed in what it could do for our city.
If we start from the basis that you already believe in your story, here are a few tips to ensure your audience does too:
- Make eye contact and I was on the same team! and the following additional tips should help.
- Smile – another simple truth but again, how many times have you watched someone tell you a story and they never cracked a smile and might just as well have been anticipating a root canal? My darling sister was going for a first job interview eons ago. I knew she would ace it in terms of her knowledge and eligibility for the position so my biggest piece of advice: relax and smile. And by the way, it is pretty much impossible not to make eye contact if you are smiling – unless you want to look like you are absent in more ways than one!
- Introduce a human foible – people respond well to stories that reveal a human weakness, especially if it is a “ran into a problem, fixed it and moved on” kind of story. When I told you the story above about failing at becoming a respiratory technologist, did you identify more strongly with me than if I had just told you about success in career transition work and raising money for the Olympics? We all have our weaknesses and they can be presented in an honest way that makes our story more believable because people can relate to human foibles.
- Make self–deprecation an art – deprecation, if done well, can shine a strong steady light on exactly those same traits. This is not an easy art to perfect. Get it wrong and you can come across as just being your own worst critic or that you are so obviously trying to achieve the opposite of what you are saying. deprecation is all about the successful close!
- Humor – who doesn’t love people who make us laugh? Going back to that continuum of personal relationships I mentioned earlier, before people trust you they first of all have to like you. And making them laugh is a great launching pad. As I began a career in sales, a senior advertising executive told me: “Doll, just get them to like you”. Sexist moniker aside, that comment not only made me laugh but it was great advice and I believed it. Again, humor can fail miserably for you too. There are times when it is just not good to tell a joke or make a funny (to you) remark. But for the most part, my experience has been that if I can start off a meeting or encounter with something even mildly funny, it sets the tone for a platform of trust and belief.
What works for you? How have you been successful at ensuring people believe your story?
Love to hear from you and if you would like to take your interest in getting better at telling your story to the next level, please check out our Vancouver workshop on www.execstorytelling.com .