Have you ever wondered why it seems that some people are just magically good at presenting themselves in front of others, for example at a job interview or a networking event?
Luckily, they are no magicians – but what they all have in common is that they mastered the art of storytelling.
Why is storytelling so powerful?
Because as Jimmy Neil Smith put it: “We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”
This means that to be able to pitch our professional selves, no matter if this is for a job interview or an important presentation for a customer, we need to understand the basics of what makes a story great.
So in this article, we’ll show you the 7 key ingredients to create a powerful story that you can use the next time you need to pitch yourself in a career-related setting.
Ingredient 1: The Hero
There is no good story without a Hero. How boring would it be to read Harry Potter without Harry Potter being part of it, right?
If you are pitching yourself, that hero needs to be yourself. But if you are in a meeting with a customer, you can also make that person the hero of the story. Just remember, there always needs to be a hero.
It is also important to not confuse a hero with a superhero. We are all happy they exist in action movies but in real life, it’s hard to relate to a superhero. That is why it is important that the hero of your story is vulnerable, just like all of us.
Ingredient 2: Creating a setting
Our minds will always create a setting for every story we hear. The difference between a good and a great story is that the storyteller creates that setting for us.
And there is an important reason for it. You want to make sure the listener is in exactly the setting you need them to be in to fully grasp the depth of the story and the pitch you are about to make.
Ingredient 3: The challenge
Now that you created a setting for the listener, it is time to introduce the challenge. That is the one problem the hero will need to solve. This is the part that hooks the audience.
And if you managed to create relatability to your hero, at this point, your audience is already rooting for the hero to pass the challenge!
Ingredient 4: The goal
To go one step further with your story, it’s important that you not only state the challenge but also define the goal the hero put for him-/herself based on the situation.
Even if it seems obvious, the sole fact that your hero created a goal during a difficult time makes your audience feel inspired by that person.
Ingredient 5: A mentor or friend
Stories are always more fun if there are more characters besides the hero. Imagine Harry Potter without Hermione or Ron. Harry would have (probably) managed to pass every school year, but the story would have simply not be that fun to read anymore.
And that is because we are all social beings, and we want our hero to be, too. It is also a sign of appreciation towards those that have helped you and inspired you to achieve that goal. So make sure to add this element to your pitch/story.
Extra Tip: If you are pitching to a customer and the customer is the hero, then this is the part where you come in as the mentor who helps the customer solve the problem.
Ingredient 6: The journey
Now that your audience relates to the hero, they understand the setting, they have been faced with the challenge but also understand the goal of the hero and are rooting for him/her, it is finally time to start the journey.
Take your audience with you on this journey. Explain why you did things, how you did them, and what the impact of the decision you took along the way were.
Ingredient 7: The final results
Sooner than you think – because remember, a pitch should never be too long – you will need to come to the final conclusion of the story.
This is where you show if the hero managed to achieve the goal.
This is where the audience finally can relax again.
But the ending should not only be a plain explanation of what happened, it should also contain lessons that your audience can take away with them. They need to walk away from your pitch remembering something they can now apply themselves or wanting to learn more from you because you inspired them.
Conclusion: How to use storytelling to pitch yourself
With these 7 storytelling ingredients we discussed, you’re ready for your next pitch.
Now is your turn to transfer this knowledge into your professional setting and rock it!