Stories hold the key to making memories and lasting impressions because they stir emotion. They create tension. They build suspense. They pull us in. And they give us a sense of control. Because of the story, we “know better now” and we feel triumphant.
Whether you learn how to tell your stories from famous authors like Joseph Campbell who told us about “The Hero’s Journey” or from famed psychologist Carl Jung who told us about “archetypes,” your story will follow a time-tested pattern to blast through boredom and rivet attention. Why? Because we all want to be that hero. We all want to be in control. We all want to make a difference. We all want to matter. Listening to stories help us relate to those who do. As presenters, we can help others feel that way by telling stories. So if you want to make a point and make it stick, tell a story.
Stories can be a powerful way to help you make a point in a job interview. Here’s an example.
- The Interview Question: What do you want to be doing five years from now?
- The Point: I want to use my leadership skills to make teams more productive
- The Story:
“Taking the lead comes naturally for me. Let me give you an example.
I am member of a work team. A few weeks ago, our team was facing a deadline that was a week away. Then, without warning our boss told us we had two business days to complete the project. After we whined and moaned for a few minutes, I suggested that we pull out our master-planning chart. On the left side of the chart we listed each step of the project. Across the top we had the completion times and names of responsible parties.
With all the people standing in front of the chart, we collectively decided what we could compress, what we could eliminate totally and what would have to remain in tact. I took the lead by standing up at the chart and framing the discussion. We accomplished a great deal by cutting out what amounted to dozens of “nice to do’s” that in the end were non-essentials. By pulling together, we extensively revised our timelines, achieved our objectives and completed the project nearly four hours before the revised deadline.”
- Returning to the Point: “So whether it’s five years from now or even today, when leadership is needed to bring order to a team, I will take the lead and get it done.”
Notice how the interviewee answered the interviewer’s question by telling a story. The story demonstrated that the interviewee . . .
- Stepped into a leadership role without being asked to do so
- Used leadership skills that enabled the team to succeed
- Illustrated how past performance provides evidence of future success
So whether you’re talking casually to people in a conversation or delivering a formal presentation, look for opportunities to make your point by telling a story. We all like to listen to stories. When you tell a story, we will listen to you.