Making a Pitch? Why Super-Storytelling Could Score You the Big Job, Client, or Contract
It’s intense. They’re staring at you. Your palms get sweaty. And, before you can respond, seventy-eight possible answers swarm through your brain in an instant. And, you know that you need to answer their question quickly. What’s their question? It’s “Why should I hire you, or choose you for the job?”
Of course, we’ve all been in this position at some point in our lives. And, for some strange reason, we all believed that we were prepared to answer that tough question and make a good impression. But, the truth is, most of us respond by saying something that doesn’t really communicate anything valuable—at all. Most of us answer by saying something like, “Because I just know I’m the right person.” Okay, so what? It doesn’t matter if we know. They need to know. The question is; how do you communicate that you’re the right person in a unique, impressive, and memorable way?
While storytelling may sound like a fluffy topic, it’s also an amazing tool to make yourself memorable. In fact, researchers at John Hopkins studied 108 Super Bowl commercials over a two-year period. The team analyzed the plots of each ad based on traditional storytelling methodology. “People are attracted to stories,” said researcher Keith Quesenberry, in a Harvard Business Review article, “because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.”
Did you pick up on that? Stories are powerful tools because they help us relate to other people—even the scary boss, or the intimidating client. Somehow, when we tell stories, listeners are able to perceive themselves in that story. They can imagine how we felt, what we saw, and even how we thought in that situation.
So, here’s the big question; what story should you tell when someone asks you the dreaded question, “Why are you the right person?” Here are a few tips and hacks to make the right story choice. The best stories:
- Show vulnerability. Choose a story from your distant past that makes you look foolish, scared, weak, or uniformed. Talk about how horrible the situation was, and how much it embarrassed you. People love these stories. But, they also love to see how you learned from your mistakes. Explain what you learned, and finish the story by saying something like, “…and that was the last time I ever made that mistake.”
- Reveal character. Choose a story that reveals your character, so you don’t have to respond with generic statements like, “…because I’m a good person.” When it comes to character, actions speak louder than words. So, let the story show your character. This story doesn’t have to be work related, either. It simply needs to explain an instance where you struggled with a decision between conscious and convenience.
- Spotlight teamwork. While it would seem most logical to tell a story about yourself, choosing to tell a story about how you collaborated with others to achieve a desired result. When you tell this story, don’t hold back on shining a spotlight on the people who helped you succeed. New bosses, and clients, will envision themselves as being the focus of your future appreciation.
- Connect on purpose. We’re all here for a reason. And, while understanding your life’s purpose isn’t easy, understanding the values and goals of others allows you to see their point of view . Do your research on your audience. If you’re applying for a job, or trying to win a new client, spend time thinking about what they want to achieve. And, then tell a story that is helpful to them, instead of you.
- Become memorized and shared. Sure, this might feel like a lot of pressure—to tell such a great story that people remember it, and repeat it. But, think about how often you remember and repeat the stories you hear—even if it’s just to your significant other. Pay attention to those stories. Figure out why they’re memorable to you, and why you felt the need to share it. And, even if you don’t think those stories are relatable to the conversation at hand, they may be relatable to the person.
Storytelling can feel like an artform unique to Hollywood and entertainment. But, it’s not. If you pay attention to your daily conversations, you’ll quickly realize that you’re immersed in stories on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Listen to the stories you hear. Listen to the stories you tell. And, when you’re in sticky situations, pre-plan a few great stories that you can stick in your back pocket and use to your advantage. In fact, plan and practice a story that satisfies each of the above topics. You’ll be shocked by how often you use them. And, even better, you’ll be amazed by the results they create.Oh, and if you’re curious, and want to dive into the details of “How to structure good stories?” I highly recommend you check out this learning path.
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