July 23, 2020 / Esther Choy

The most common obstacle to authentic business storytelling is that it simply takes guts. But that’s hardly the only obstacle. Here are others.

authentic business storytelling

A Laundry List

Authentic business storytelling can be hard when we have a laundry list of things we want to communicate about ourselves. Laundry lists are not stories. Recounting events is not a story. “I woke up this morning, had breakfast, and then went to work.” This is NOT a story.

Thankfully, finding the right story structure can overcome this.

An Eclectic Past

Storytelling is difficult, too, when we have an eclectic past. Maybe you were a math major but also a musician and Division I college athlete. How do you bundle all of that into your bio?

I was recently training a group that worked for an educational publisher, in a division that was helping professors turn their classrooms virtual. It’s a newer field, so they have come from all sorts of eclectic backgrounds. It’s hard for them to put it together so they can introduce themselves in ways that would make sense. 


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When we’re asked to tell others about ourselves, the request never means “tell me everything.” Instead, “tell me about yourself” really implies “tell me something about yourself that reminds me of me.” Your listeners are looking for connection, wondering where your experiences overlap. So, zero in on one thing and one thing in your life that you know will resonate with your audience.

A New Role

People also tell me, “I’m new to my role. I don’t feel confident yet.” A storytelling coach can help here, but in a new role, learning your story can take time. Time, patience, feedback and reflection all help. As you reflect, consider how your past experiences connect with why you are equipped for this role.

Bragging

And then, of course, many people say, “I feel like I’m bragging, especially when I talk about my accomplishments.”

The solution? Challenge and change are the core of any story. When you focus on what you had to overcome and how you succeeded, it may not seem like bragging anymore. 

Storytelling coaches can help here, though it’s a little harder. A storytelling coach can help you tell an accomplishment story that is not about you but about your audience.

What are your biggest obstacles to authentic business storytelling? How will you respond the next time someone asks you to introduce yourself? You know the next invitation to introduce yourself is right around the corner. Make the most of the opportunity to start building connections with the others who are also going around the room and introducing themselves.


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Esther Choy

Esther Choy founded Leadership Story Lab in 2010 to help others leverage the art of storytelling to create extraordinary opportunities.
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