How to tell your story (hint: it’s not your elevator pitch)

Not so long ago the elevator pitch was the thing to perfect if you were an entrepreneur or person in business. Being able to sum up what you did in a matter of seconds was an exercise in distillery and wordplay perfection. Quick! Catch the prospect before they run away! SELL SELL SELL!

But the ability to encapsulate the nature of your job with as much information in there as possible led to nonsense speak like “I’m an optimised synergy-seeker elevating SMEs to the pinnacle of growth in commercial enterprise.” I mean. Really?

Nowadays we like to talk to humans in a way that we can all understand. Keeping it simple, we still like to be able to say what we do succinctly and with clarity, but also with a personable element that doesn’t intimidate or blind with science – drawing people in and engaging them to find out more.

Storytelling is the new elevator pitch

Businesses are recognising the value in storytelling and are jumping on the wagon to get their stories out there. But your story is not your elevator pitch, it’s not the new business tool, it’s not your mission statement or your brand promise. Your story is, well, your story! It’s a personal journey. It’s honest and might not be very shiny or pretty to look at. But it will connect and engage and grow your prospects and audience loyalty if you tell it right.

Here’s the thing about your story: more is more. And the more you tell it, the better you get to know yourself. It’s pretty much the opposite of the elevator pitch in fact. We’ve done a lot of work on storytelling and how to do it right, but there are key elements to telling it to engage. We’ve learnt a lot from our BareAll and High Growth Collective speakers about what makes a journey (hint: it ain’t all roses and slick business chat). Here are 5 elements you really want to include:

1. Motivation

Remember the first time you noticed you were good at the thing you do? Did someone else see it in you? What was the moment you knew there was an answer to the question you’d been asking? Was there one moment or a slow burning journey to uncover the inspiration to start you on your way? Talking about the moment(s) that inspired or motivated you will resonate with the audience you’re telling it to and forges a bond of recognition.

2. Heroes & Villains

It’s captivating for listeners to piece together the pictures of your life with characters of the people involved. Who features heavily in the story of you? A mentor? A nemesis? A muse or an old friend? Was there someone who inspired you to take first steps? Perhaps some words of wisdom were passed to you and they led you to make a decision.

3. Big Fat Failures

Yep, counter-intuitively, talking about the times things didn’t go exactly as planned will also help your case with your audience. Include the times you wanted to give up. Red-faced and terrified; the point is we’ve all been there and people like to know they’re not alone. Recognition in other person’s experiences instills trust.

4. Risks

A big theme at BareAll – the risks taken. Ones that pay off (and the ones that don’t) tell a story of their own. The learning here is that it’s okay to fail forward and learn from your mistakes. The other great thing about sharing the risks your took is it encourages others to take the same leaps of faith – in turn perhaps making you the inspiring star of their future story. Share the love people!

5. Honest

It’s always important to be honest, of course, but in this instance is doubly important. Sticking to the truth about your journey, whatever the outcome, will endear you to your intended audience. Cutting corners, blurring over details and telling little porkies to make yourself look better won’t make anyone like you more. Be brutal, be open, be prepared to share – trust us, the people that follow in the wake of your story will be your most loyal investors by far.

What’s your experience? Have you crafted an elevator pitch? Is it working for you? Do you know your story? Do you need help telling it? Get in touch