LESSON 3: Tuning up your personal storytelling
What version of yourself are you prepared to show to the world?
You need to differentiate yourself from everyone else that's out there working in the same arena.
As a creative person, a founder, or a purpose driven individual, you already have an advantage. That advantage is your non-conformity. You need to celebrate your non-conformity. You have original thoughts, you want to do something about the thing you really care about, and you have the courage to take action.
That's more than most people ever do and they will admire you for it. And - if you convey that energy, that original thinking, and that courage - the courage to care enough to take action - people will be drawn towards you.
The good news
The good news is that your storytelling doesn't have to rely on you being a fabulous copywriter. It doesn't have to involve you in being seen on video - at least not until you are ready. It doesn't have to reveal things that are private or sensitive in any way.
I'm prepared to bet that you already have a fair number of the resources you need to be an effective storyteller already. Very few people really have to start this process from scratch. It may involve bit of digging around, remembering, and giving yourself credit for your past experience - whatever that might be. We all have material to draw on, and this lesson will help you identify what you have already got.
The exercise I'm going to share with you is a basic audit of storytelling materials - this can be done in two stages. First, you establish what you've already got, then you look at the same exercise through an aspirational lens - what do you need to add or create in order to move from basic storytelling to something a bit more sophisticated.
CUSTOMER EMPATHY MAP
The exercise will help you create a picture of what facets of your life and work you already feel OK about presenting to the world - and will alert you to potential gaps. Filling the gaps may involve you getting into the stretch zone - but you can deal with that in easy steps.
The graphic mirrors a well known analytical tool called the customer empathy map, which is the worksheet you can download. For now, you are simply going to establish what storytelling materials you already have, and what you may need to collect.
How to do the exercise
First, study the image. Move round the image in a clockwise direction. You are going to use each heading in turn to do a quick audit of your storytelling 'assets' in each area.
Note: You can download a printable version of this via the link at the foot of the page. This image is copyright and is shared here for your personal use only.
What have you got that will make people think?
A point of view.
Useful, thought provoking content.
Organised, as opposed to random, sharing of other people's articles on social media.
Evidence of what you do.
Articles on LinkedIn.
What have you got that connects on an emotional level?
Content that engages at a values level.
Pictures (worth a thousand words, and all that...)
Stories of problems encountered and overcome (The Hero's journey)
N.B. Other people's opinions of what you do is more credible than your own opinion.
Quotes and testimonials from customers.
Facts and figures.
Product information - think about how choosy people are these days - things that show ethical behaviour, sensitive sourcing, up to date thinking, for example.
Some folk just love to click!
Clickable links to other related content
Downloadable brochures or product guides.
Links to videos or podcasts.
Interviews - audio or video
You being interviewed and/or you interviewing others
Links to other related videos or podcasts
Radio or TV appearances
N.B. visual content must be really great quality and high-resolution.
A photo of you, professionally taken.
Candid photos of you in working/studio/workshop mode
Work in progress, or the equivalent - seeing how stuff is done or made is a vital part of people's selection process.
Pictures of happy clients if possible
Great product shots.
You don't need all of these things. A good selection of one or two from each section is a great start.
You won't use all of these things. Not all at once anyway. The purpose of this exercise is to help you build your personal archive of storytelling materials.
Don't throw stuff out - you never know when you might need that old photo of you doing that thing that has just become relevant again.
For a number of years, I was a professional juggler. In my 30's I became embarrassed by that fact. It didn't seem to fit with my image of myself anymore. I tore up most of the photos. Looking back, learning to juggle and perform was pivotal point in me getting out there as a shy introvert. I couldn't do what I'm doing now without that experience. It's actually a major part of my personal 'hero's journey'. I'd love to have those photos back again.
How much of yourself are you prepared to reveal?
What do you want people to love about what you do?
What assets do you have already? What else do you need?
Dig out all the evidence you can, collect it together, review it. What can you use now, what will you save for later? What gaps are there in your personal archive that you need to fill?