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Do you have your stories ready?

Being prepared

Quite a few of my clients are preparing for interview, others are looking to market their business through networking – in both cases, it’s a good idea to have your stories ready.

Stories are very powerful, they trigger emotions in the listener/reader and are easy to remember. In order to make best use of our stories, we need to be able to tell them succinctly and effectively.

Plan ahead

Even if you’re really good at thinking on your feet (and especially if you’re not!), it’s worth spending a little time thinking about what you can say that will have the desired effect.

When supporting people facing redundancy, I learned that the most commonly-asked question at interview and the one that candidates prepare for the least is:

Tell me a little about yourself

It comes up in networking too – how do you answer in an engaging manner? 

When asked to talk about yourself, to radiate enthusiasm and positive energy, try telling people about the ‘best you’, about you at your best.

You’ll probably smile and so will they!

Try this exercise:

Other questions in a similar vein are:

How did you get to be doing what you’re doing?

What are you passionate about?

What do you like to do outside of work?

Tell me about a time…

For behavioural / competency interviews, it’s particularly important to be prepared for the ‘Tell me about a time…’ questions eg:

Tell me about a time when you made a difficult decision

Tell me about a time when you made a mistake  

…and so on.

Have your stories ready in advance so that you know you can get your point across without meandering and potentially losing your audience. Consider the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

Practice makes permanent

It’s a great idea to practise saying your stories out loud. Especially if you don’t like talking about yourself, it can be useful to get used to hearing yourself saying the words.

If you can, ask someone to listen to your stories and give you constructive feedback.

Did they understand the point you were trying to make? Do you throw in extra words that are unhelpful, such as ‘just’ or ‘only’ or ‘had to’..? Did you avoid using too much jargon? Did you play down your contribution, falling into the trap of using ‘we’ rather than ‘I’?

Or could you record yourself, listen back and give yourself some gentle feedback? (Remember to be kind!)

Do you have your stories ready?

How do you prepare for being asked about yourself? Are you making best use of your stories?

Some of my story can be found here. Please tell me your story in the comments below…

To find out how I can help you in telling your stories, getting your message across clearly and effectively, please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486.

Best wishes!

Sian

[To get your free copy of my eBook ’10 things to consider when choosing a coach’, sign up for my fortnightly newsletter using the sign up box on the 1:1 coaching page.]

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