By: Amelia Workman
Each of us has a story. It’s the experiences and passions that define who we are. Often when we are asked the simple question, “Tell me about yourself?,” we immediately list our job experiences and credentials. We often regurgitate our resumes and LinkedIn profiles instead of telling a story about our challenges and passions.
Rob Biesenbach, CEO of Rob Biesenbach LLC, shared his expertise on storytelling and how to share your unique journey in his session Unleashing the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds and Get Results at the 2020 PRSA ICON conference. The session explained storytelling tools and how to use your own personal story to further your career and personal goals.
“How many of us actually unleash our full story?” Biesenbach said. The key to telling powerful stories is to humanize yourself and tell your complete journey. We are hardwired for stories from an early age. Biesenbach even explained that when we hear a story, chemicals are released, stimulating the same part of the brain as when we experience an event. When we are composing our story, we must ensure it is emotionally, intellectually and physically stimulating. Biesenbach then went on to explain “match.com syndrome,” where on dating sites we explain who we are rather than show it. “If you say you are adventurous don't just say you are, include a picture on your profile of you doing something adventurous,” Biesenbach said.
So then how do we compose our own story? The key is to tell a structured story and include our accomplishments in a compelling way. Below are Bisenbach’s key story ingredients.
1. Top 5 career and life highlights
Check out performance reviews, LinkedIn recommendations, awards and input from colleagues.
2. Challenges you have overcome
These can be challenges you have faced in the workplace or in life in general.
3. Top skills and traits
Showcase traits that represent your greatest strengths and skills, what you bring to a position or an organization.
4. Pattern or theme
Find a pattern or general theme in your journey that you resonate with the most. This could be a passion of yours or a field you are drawn to.
Next, Biesenbach lists the ways to structure your story. These steps will help you craft your compelling story below.
Biesenbach explains how you must begin your story with your “normal state.” This is how you began your journey and how you were before something changed in your life.
2. Inciting Incident
This is the incident that “insights the normal” and what drives the story to change.
3. Decision/Turning Point
The decision or turning point is what causes the story to take a “sharp turn.” This change begins a new step in your journey, whether it’s a new career choice or moving to a new area.
The conflict is what you learn from. This can be a challenge or struggle you fight or overcome.
The end/resolution is finding your “new normal.” This is your “ending” and what your life’s purpose is.
In the public relations and communications profession, telling compelling stories is one of the most important parts of our careers. Sometimes you get so caught up in telling others’ stories that you don’t tell your own. Biesenbach ended the session with the powerful statement, “No one has your story, so stand up and stand out.” Your story is the hardest story to tell, so be yourself and embrace your journey.