One of my favorite questions when talking to prospective clients and candidates is, “what’s your story?” It’s a great way of breaking the ice and getting some quick insights to their background, aspirations, and motivations. I find that it is a very helpful way of finding out how I might work with a particular start-up company or present a candidate to the hiring manager in a meaningful way. It is a great question and also happens to be the subject of a New York Times article this week, “Storytelling Your Way to a Better Job or a Stronger Start-Up” There are some important points to keep in mind, whether you are the CEO of an early stage company trying to raise money, or a job seeker looking for advantages over other applicants. Some of these may seem to be second nature, but it always helps to remind yourself in advance of when you are on the hot seat:
Know your audience and what your goal is.
Be honest and factual. Paint a picture of yourself with examples of success.
Develop a key thread that holds your story together – start and end with it.
Be fluid and have the ability to improvise so that you can connect with your audience.
Smile, present with positive energy and a sense of humor.
Some of the best storytellers in our industry are people like Jay Flatly, Noubar Afeyan and Linda Avey. They all have shown an enduring interest and passion for whatever they do and are masters at personalizing their pitch to a particular audience. And with the advent of TedTalks and YouTube, they are available to see 24/7. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!