Storytelling is an incredibly important part of learning and understanding for all cultures. Society intuitively understands characters and storylines and will find familiar concepts in new situations by using stories. For this reason, employing storytelling to develop your personal brand can help people engage and understand who you are faster!
The easiest way to apply the story telling concept is to think of yourself as a character…
Audiences want to understand the character
We encounter characters so often that we feel we intuitively understand them and can predict their actions. Think about the associations you have with the characters: ‘Princess,’ ‘Villain,’ ‘Hero,’ ‘King.’ These are referred to as archetypes – simply by name, we feel we understand their traits and what they’d do in certain situations. Audiences want to understand their characters so if you can align yourself with an archetype that feels right to you and present a consistent message, you’re allowing an audience (such as a potential employer) to understand you and build rapport and familiarity quickly.
Stories create an emotional link between characters and the audience
Stories allow an audience to understand a character by learning about their strengths, weaknesses, dreams and behaviours. We cheer on characters we care about and expect justice to be served where necessary. Effectively communicating your story means an employer is more likely to remember you and be invested in your next move.
Stories need challenges, heroes and resolutions
The beauty of a story is that the audience doesn’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. Characters face adversity, overcome obstacles and find solutions and the audience gets to share the journey with them. Think about what’s lead you where you are. What drives you? What challenges have you overcome? What’s your dream ending? Your career will be an adventure, communicate it well and you’ll have your audience enthralled.
All characters have flaws
Communicating your story isn’t just about ‘putting your best foot forward.’ Humans have flaws, weaknesses and make mistakes. Sharing this with your audience makes you appear more open and relatable which is often quite endearing. For an employer, this can also show that you’re reflective and open to development.
We all want something to believe in
Often the stories an audience likes the best are those that confirm their own values, beliefs and expectations. We don’t necessarily like stories that contradict our hopes and objectives. If you think about this in relation to your career story, you can see how drawing parallels between your story and an organisation’s vision can help connect with your audience.
Characters shape stories
When an audience understands a character, they can predict how they will affect situations and storylines. Think about when someone enters a conflict scene in a movie – will they resolve it and smooth things over? Will they be submissive? Or is the situation about to explode? We usually know, based on everything we’ve learnt about the character. Consider how you appear, if the employer is the audience, what do you think they expect you’ll bring to the team. Remember, they’re controlling the organisation’s story and your character would shape it in some way.
Storytelling and its effects are often subconscious and it’s not necessarily easy! Your story will develop overtime and you can use it subtly in your resume and supporting job application documents, in interviews, on your LinkedIn profile, in networking opportunities and on online platforms such as Twitter or blogs to create an emotional connection with your audience.