Are you like many people, reluctant to tell your backstory? Research found your reluctance can be attributed to many reasons. For example, you may fear you appear weak, boring, internally focused on the negative parts of your story, or perhaps feeling it is unrelated to business. Whatever the reason, you are cheating yourself and your customers by not sharing the valuable gift that shaped your life and your business or career. Consider the words of Stevie Wonder” Life has meaning only in the struggle.” His message was to share your struggle to help others find meaning, purpose and to flourish.
What Experts Say
People, including your customers, want to know their business can improve and they can live a more fulfilling life. So, sharing your backstory, what you have learned from your failures, and how you overcame your challenges can be of significant value to them, even life-changing. Peter Guber, chairman, and CEO of Mandalay Bay Entertainment believes storytelling is in our DNA. He says, “There’s a treasure to be discovered, and it’s inside you.”
Sharing Your Backstory Effectively
How do you tell your story effectively? Reflect on your life and the trigger events, people or moments that changed your life and set you on the path you followed to success. You may have been in a dark place, failed at something, or experienced what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. Don’t discount those negative parts. To connect with your listener, you must relate your backstory with all of its pain, frustration, obstacles, and associated fears or sadness. However, a key differentiator for telling a successful story is to follow that pain with a telling of how you overcame the obstacles and how what you learned helped you succeed. Your backstory can give your customers a vision of what is and what can be in the future. Such stories can ignite listeners to action.
Stories as a Tool
Stories are a great sales tool, and your backstory can be useful and compelling. Stories act as simulators and allow people to experience the process and resulting outcome mentally and emotionally. Not only do they allow them to simulate the experience, but research also shows that they activate the same area of the brain as those activated by the actual experience. The more vivid the image you create, the stronger the impact will be on the listener, and on her desire to take action.
Where and How to Begin
When telling your backstory and moving customers to action, the opening of your story must allow them to relate to you or your main character. If they can’t relate, they won’t care what happens next or how the story ends. Just like the movies we love, great stories have the right imagery and feeling to reach the emotional side of the listener’s brain. You want to connect with their heart first and then their mind. As you tell your story, be sure to include specific, concrete, and relevant details to transport your listener into your story. The amount of detail you include depends on your customer’s personality and the situation. In any case, it must contain enough elements to create a compelling vision.
My other tip today is to ensure that you focus on the main point or as story coach Doug Lipman says MIT, The Most Important Thing. Before launching into your story, you must be confident in the reason for telling the story and the point that you want to make.
Meaning and Purpose
It is meaning and purpose that Mark Twain referred to when he said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born… and the day you know why.” Sharing your backstory may help your customer to find their purpose and for you to experience yours. Therefore, it is critical to your success to be clear about the objective and point of your story. You may have more than one point you want to make in your story, but don’t overshadow the main point with the secondary point or points. It is easy to go off on a tangent, so write down your story and practice telling it to a friend or family member before telling it to a customer.
Authenticity = Inspiration
Authentic personal stories inspire customers to take action so be sure to remain honest as it will reflect in your voice and your body language. Your story may also help your customer understand information with which they are not familiar. As a result, your story will help them make a decision. Remember facts and figures inform but stories inspire. So, inspire your audience with your backstory.