Tell me a story.
These four words have never filled me with the anxiety I feel as I clear my throat and start to speak into the phone during my Fundamentum WebClass.
I’ve always been a storyteller. I was a Creative Writing major, after all. For four years, my life revolved around creating short stories. Even now with my work here at the AfterCollege Blog, I am constantly coming up with fun stories to bring you readers into the posts. But those are all crafted carefully onto paper, hours spent creating settings, drama, and dialogue.
During my Fundamentum class’s conference call, I find myself unsure how to start. The character is one I am not so comfortable with—myself. And I’m not sure how to go about making myself into a worthy protagonist. How does one bring the same tension and thrill into a story about a real experience? How can this story have the same impact as one that I’ve made up?
Those are the questions we covered during the hour and a half WebClass called “Sell Yourself with Stories.”
About a week before our WebClass was going to happen, we were sent a PowerPoint that explained the key points of creating a “good story” and then were given three prompts to write about our own experiences: something that happened in college, an extracurricular activity, and a time we failed.
We had to think of the situation, the actions we took, the results, and then what we learned from the experience.
I’m not going to lie, writing these stories was a challenge. It was hard for me to put weight on my own experiences, to see which events were “worthy” of telling. But, because the prep work was required, I had no choice but to identify a time in each of the three categories that could be turned into a compelling story.
Telling the story:
On the day of the actual call we were sent another PowerPoint to guide us through the class. We discussed factors that make a story interesting as well as some traps that can lessen the impact of that story.
Then it was the scary part. We were asked to tell our stories out loud. Luckily there were only two other people on the call, the facilitator and other “student” (who happened to be AfterCollege’s Content Marketing Manager, Melissa). Since I know Melissa pretty well, and we’d jotted these stories down during the prep work, I figured telling them was going to be a piece of cake.
I was wrong.
Nerves struck and I realized I didn’t really know how to articulate my point when I couldn’t calculate every word I used. My mind was spinning, I was rambling, and I didn’t know how to stop.
But, though I totally botched my first story, the feedback I received made me feel okay and ready to try again. When giving feedback, you first point out two things that the storyteller did well. Only after you’ve given the positive feedback do you tell them your “wish,” what you think they could have done better.
The order of this feedback was really important. I was already beating myself up over the way I had told my story, and my inability to stop my insane run-ons, so hearing that both of the people on the phone had been able to relate to the struggle in my story really comforted me. I had done something right! The story wasn’t a complete loss. After that encouragement, I could focus on what I could do to improve it.
Retelling the story:
I think the most important part of this class was being able to tell one of my stories over again. After you’ve heard the feedback, you’re given the chance to try to tell your story again. Even after only one time retelling the story, you can hear a difference.
We were given the option to do a follow-up call during which we could ask some more questions or practice our stories again. This really allowed for the opportunity to improve our work and build our confidence.
Stories are a great way to SHOW an interviewer that you’re capable of what they’re asking. But, in order to get the most out of your story, you have to know how to tell it the right way. I didn’t realize how big of a difference there was in writing stories and telling them verbally. When saying a story out loud, there is no backspace. There are so many traps that we can fall into that will take away from the point of our stories or make them seem less impressive than we’d hope.
This WebClass helps you to identify your stories and improve your storytelling skills to engage and impress in your job search.
You Can Attend a Session for Free!
Enter our contest! All you have to do is answer this question in the comments section below: “Which interview question do you always struggle to answer?” Contest will run from November 11, 2014 to November 25, 2014.
There will be two winners. Once notified, the winners can choose which session they would like to attend on a first-come, first-served basis.
The courses are:
- Introduce Yourself course — winner can invite three friends
- Sell Yourself with Stories course — winner can invite one friend
We will provide a code for you and then you can schedule your session from the available times.
Or, if you don’t want to wait until the contest is over to secure a spot, Fundamentum is offering all AfterCollege readers a discount on their WebClasses. Use the code AFTERCOLLEGE20 to get a 20% discount on any WebClass until December 1, 2014.