When you introduce yourself to new people… when you pitch new business… when you “tell us about your role on this project,” you’re telling your story.
And often, you’re telling your organization’s story, too.
That’s because there’s a big area of overlap between stories about:
- What you do
- What your organization does
- The people who benefit, and
- The supporters, investors, or strategic partners that make all this possible.
Consider These Personal-Meets-Professional Story Examples:
I’ve been with the company for nineteen years, and during that time, I’ve helped choose, negotiate, and install furniture at more than 50,000 work stations. We use top-quality vendors who offer you a wide range of colors and styles, so your new headquarters will be a vibrant reflection of your company’s culture. As your project manager, my job is to make sure that when you and your employees walk into that new space, you smile.
We’re a not-for-profit that supplies elementary schools with musical instruments for their students to play. I learned how to play the violin in second grade, and even though I’ll never make it to Carnegie Hall, I know how much musical training can help kids excel in all their studies.
I started investing in high school, with the money I made stocking shelves at our local grocery. Pretty soon, I was investing for all my friends, and then their parents, and I loved it. I got my MBA from Stanford and went to work for a high-powered company, but I missed the personal connection with investors. That’s why I started this firm, and that’s why we’ve built it around Friends & Family funds.
Your Story Needs to Have a Point
Notice that, in each of the examples above, our storyteller knew the point that he or she wanted to make:
- The furniture project manager stressed high quality vendors and a fun, exciting outcome.
- The not-for-profit staffer is pitching music as an academic benefit.
- The investment firm founder is explaining why his firm is built on personal connections.
And notice that, to make that point, our storyteller included information about themselves, and information about their organization, often showing how their goals, experience, and values and the organization’s goals, experience, and values overlap.
Follow These Four Steps To Prepare an Effective Organizational Story
- First, think about who you’re talking to. What is their relationship to your organization? (Are they a customer, a shareholder, an inspector, etc?
- Then consider what you want from them. (And if that seems too manipulative, ask yourself, “What would I like them to do, think, or feel ?”)
- Then choose a story that will bring your position or “ask” (what you’re asking for) to life and help your listener experience why it’s so important.
- Finally, pick the elements that your story will include, and practice saying them out loud until you can do so in a comfortable and confident way.
For more information about how effective stories are structured, and why stories are such a great way to engage other people, see my other posts about storytelling.
And if you’d like help to tell your or your organization’s story, just contact me!