Personal Branding. How to build Your Storytelling Map!

24 noiembrie 2021

Time for too formal business presentations could be over. We live in an era where we, as professionals or public figures could increase our chances to become memorable in front of any type of audience and definitely more persuasive if we understand and use the power of storytelling or more recently – storyselling, as a natural communication practice in the business environment.

In fact, with the exception of the audience who loves arguments and practical demonstrations, there is a significant percentage of professionals who will decide whether to act or not after your speech only if they resonated emotionally with your intervention. And how can you tap into your public emotions if not through storytelling?

We have this automatism created since we were small children when „Once upon a time” aroused in us curiosity, enthusiasm, emotions of all kinds. All generations present today in the work field have strong and positive response to storytelling. Gradually, even in more formal industries (eg. banking, insurance, medical industry) – presentations / speeches begin to make the transition from storytelling to storyselling! Lately, the high number of professionals who decided to invest in their public speaking/storytelling training comes from the recognition of this communication channel as a subtle sales channel!

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How can we capitalize as professionals from our own archive of relevant stories?

Often I have noticed professionals reluctance to make use of stories from their own professional experience in order to emphasize a message or to achieve the speech purpose. Why? The reasons are different, here are just a few of those encountered in my public speaking coaching practice:

1. Often in business presentation training, storytelling is not part of the course curriculum. Students learn that the presentation style could be rather formal, with well-placed numbers and arguments.

2.  When  the organizational culture is formal, stories can trigger raised eyebrows at the decision making table, so professionals prefer to go the well known way and accepted by the group. Going out of that pattern may cause them too much trouble. Is this the case in your organization?

3. Sometimes from cultural difference reasons storytelling may be perceived as „self promotion” and this can raise some public reluctance.

4. Exaggerated modesty or public speaking anxiety can determine some professionals to give up using their full arsenal of essential stories from their professional background.

How does frequent use of stories from your own professional experience directly help you? Here are some examples

1. Job Interviews – isn’t it difficult for you to answer specific questions with specific examples? Sometimes do you regret forgetting exactly that relevant story that would have helped you prove to them that you are the professional they need? Mapping your relevant stories will be a reminder exercise that will allow you to access this content when you need it most.

2. Accelerate your career by developing your personal brand inside or outside the organization you belong to. Sometimes in a 1:1 discussion with a key person or in a managerial meeting – a well-placed example or a story full of lessons can make all the difference. In the communities where you work, on social media or other favorite communication channels – your stories will increase your visibility or increase the confidence of others in your level of expertise. Whether they are delivered in writing, verbally or video – it doesn’t matter, it’s important to reach your personal brand community and add value!

3.Team branding – if you have a leadership role, you are a leader or entrepreneur then you are the spokesperson for the successes of your team, carefully choosing the moments when to share about the efforts behind the numbers, valuable lessons or best practices. Also valid for team motivational speeches.

4. Mentoring – the story makes the difference between a consultant and a mentor, doesn’t it? We will use our personal and professional stories when we want to support a professional in his efforts through mentoring and help him become a better version of himself.

5.      Sale – there are many ways to sell a product, service, skill, image, etc. but a well-told story at the right time seems to support this process even better.

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What can you lose when you have not created yet the habit of operating with your own stories from your professional experience?

Definitely you will miss the opportunity to keep your audience engaged and focused on the topic. You lose the opportunity to sell them subtly and urge them to change other than through dry numbers and rational arguments (good too but in a balanced manner). You may miss the opportunity to be memorable as a speaker or presenter! You lose the chance to connect emotionally with your public!

(Note: sometimes stories from volunteering , your involvement in various hobbies, communities, etc. can work very well depending on the key message you want to emphasize).

How can you build your own storytelling map?

Here are a few simple steps that I hope you will find them helpful:

1. Place a circle in the center of an A4 sheet that says “My Storytelling Map”

2. Review your past and present professional roles. What are the competencies you have shown most often? For example: leadership, coaching, project management, technical support, sales, customer relations, etc. Draw a circle for each of the main competence practiced in the recent years and place these circles around the central circle.

3. For each of the selected skills, access your memory and remember the most relevant stories – stories about success or failure (they are just as valuable!). Stories in which you were the main actor or the team you led.

4. Give a title to that story to help your memory and write this title next to the competence it represents.

5. Practice! Our ability to tell stories in the business environment needs practice so ask yourself when you send an email or make a presentation, when you have a 1: 1 or a meeting with the team: what relevant story will I use today in this context? At first it will be a conscious workout, then, after a while, you will access your own personal content much easier and it will become a natural process! You will be amazed to see the results! Perhaps you will see the results reflected on the faces of your interlocutors/public and maybe they will be followed by significant actions!

Here is an example of a storytelling map used with one of my international clients (CIO role):

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I often say that most of the time professionals prefer to present themselves in online presentations or face to face public speaking –  very briefly, mainly with what they wrote on their business cards.

Here is my challenge for you: if you were to present yourself only using  numbers, which will be the most critical numbers which will reflect your professional journey and which will be the stories behind those numbers? How your three minutes introduction will  sound like? How would your profile on social media change?

Train yourself! Today we no longer tell stories with „Once upon a time” but we can tell stories from business that can bring transformation, motivation, inspiration and why not, acceleration! You have a generous personal content – do not be shy, use it! May plant the seeds for change and transformation, may change individuals, community and why not, the entire world!

For any questions in the area of storytelling, public speaking coaching you can contact me here. If you found this article useful please share or subscribe to Career Transformers Newsletter here! Thank you!

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