If you are speaking about what you do for more than five minutes, an important story to include tells WHY you are doing what you are doing, or selling what you are selling. What is it that lights your fire? Where does your juice come from? What’s at the HEART of your business? People want to know.
The public’s thirst to know “why” was recognized in the media when PEOPLE Magazine came out in 1974. The articles showed you who the celebrity was BEHIND what you see on TV or in the movies. You saw where they live, and their family– the things at the heart of the person, and the motivation behind why they achieve what they do, and have all that they have. Since that time, people not only want to know, they think they deserve to know.
Some coaches will tell you to LEAD with YOUR STORY in a presentation, and that will sell you and your product/service better than any other beginning. I don’t agree. Unless you are very famous, and your story IS the speech, I say, “lead with the need” of your potential client or customer. First, you need to address the customer’s need. When they like you well enough to want to know about you, then your story is appropriate. I say place it right before the call to action. It humanizes you even more.
Simon Sinek wrote a great book on this subject: Start With Why. I first saw him speak on this subject in his TED talk. He says those who start with WHY never manipulate; they inspire. And people follow them not because they have to; they follow because they want to.
So, think about why you do what you do. Many of you have a “why” story that’s pretty easy for you to figure out. My dad had a very straightforward “why” story. His dad, a physician, died at age 46 of massive heart disease. So my dad became a heart doctor—internal medicine. One of my clients is a fashion designer. When she was in elementary school, she used to take home the unclaimed clothes from the lost and found, before they were discarded. She would restyle the clothes, with new lines, buttons, add other pieces—she would make the clothes “cool” and oh so attractive and desirable. This was her greatest pleasure, and her present business follows this path. It was no mystery. She has been redesigning clothes all her life; now she designs them and makes money doing it.
Some of you have obvious stories from childhood that led to your career path today. Another client was a school teacher. One of her students had witnessed a traumatic event in his family, and needed help. My client didn’t have the skills to help him; she went back to school and is now a therapist. Her “why” was she realized she wanted to do more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Others of you are more like me. I did not have a clear “why” when I started working—I discovered my “why.” I was a drama major in college and wanted a career on the stage. Only after teaching school for a couple of years, did I realize I loved teaching kids, because I could be the catalyst in a significant event in their lives. When 4 and 5-year olds learn to read, it’s called “unlocking the code.” I was going for the light coming on in the eyes—when they realize that the letter “b” sounds a certain way, and is signified by the stick with a circle at the bottom, and stands for the first sound in “bat” or “baby.” I saw that same light in the eyes of managers at the companies in which I worked as a Human Resources trainer, when they saw that praising an “employee” in a role play, made that “employee/actor” sit up a bit straighter, and want to cooperate. I’m always going for the light in the eyes, no matter what I do. It’s addicting—in a good way. Now, speech coaching is direct, one-to-one, and I see that light in the eyes all the time. The first time I helped a client say something funny, and he got a laugh from the group, I was hooked.
Please call me. Together, we will discover your “why” if you don’t already know it. Then, we can position your “why story” in your marketing speech for best results