Strategic Storytelling…To Pitch Or Not To Pitch

Over the years, I have integrated the magic of storytelling into my work, whether it be public speaking, writing, or networking- why?  Well because its much more interesting and ‘real’ than delivering a pitch…

Pitching for business is what many of us have been led to believe is the right way to go about obtaining new business and building new relationships; in meetings, in presentations, at networking events and such like.  Pitching does have its place in some situations yes indeed, in particular if your presentation requires a pitch to run along side it as part of the agenda, but in my opinion it has no place in the world of networking. Think about it, if someone walked up to you and started pitching what they do at you without introduction, connection or an invitation you’d be pretty peeved would you not?  Then why do it at networking events?  Why not simply have a conversation and see where it leads?

So, when is a pitch required?

In my training sessions I often teach the benefit of having a pre-prepared pitch in your back pocket, as you never know when you’re going to need it; for example some networking events actually insist on you having one, or when someone asks you that dreaded question;  “so, what do you do?”, I often think its useful to have your response ready to avoid waffle if anything, however this does not always mean you have to real off some pre-rehearsed, dull elevator pitch each time- why not simply tell your story?

Storytelling pretty much works anywhere at anytime and is welcomed by many as being an interesting way to get to know a person, see what makes them tick, learn of their experiences, their sense of humour and their storytelling skills in itself is a good way of learning about someone’s character.

True stories are often inspiring and motivating, evoking emotion or relatability, which in turn strengthens relationships without even having to try and this is all in an authentic way- so why don’t we tell more stories?

Many feel it too personal- not professional or business like, so they stick to what they’re comfortable with – structured, formatted, standard pitches and responses- but is this really what people ‘want’ to hear and does it make them memorable?  Ask yourself- which of the following would you rather hear from someone…

  • A Pitch?
  • Their Story?

One Monday morning recently, I posted details on LinkedIn about a funny experience I had, had over the weekend – nothing in relation to my business, but felt I wanted to share it to bring a smile to people at the start of the working week- by the end of that week the post had gained over 17,500 views, almost 300 likes and a shed load of comments compared to my usual much lower average  engagement from posts relating directly to business or promotion. This in itself said to me that my followers enjoy real-life, relatable true stories, about not just my business but about me as the person behind my brand.  Humour isn’t always required as it was in this case, however the appreciation in that moment of my shared story with others evoked and created so much emotion, inspiration and positive engagement that people were still talking about it a week later.

But, where do I start with storytelling?

The best way I have found to get started on transitioning into a storyteller, is to simply get started. Write your story down – put pen to paper and start writing…even begin it with ‘once upon a time’… you don’t need a plan, you don’t need a strategy, just real and raw honesty- let it all out- you can refine and edit it afterwards, but the point is you have made the effort to BEGIN.

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end, so you can work on the structure later, but ‘brain dumping’ as I call it in the first instance is a great way of getting what’s in your head, out onto that piece of paper and you’ll be surprised how much your content starts to flow once you get going.

What should I write about?

There are no rules, whatever is on your mind right now is a good start, what is relevant to you, important to you, what kind of things do you have going on right now, your goals, dreams, aspirations, achievements, challenges you have overcome, funny anecdotes, interesting and successful case studies- write it all down!

I once started to write about my career journey from my first job until present day and realised that it all started way sooner.  As a young child I made rose petal perfume to sell on my driveway, moving onto jewellery making and selling, learning negotiation skills at car boot sales aged nine onwards, buying and selling tuck shop items and cigarette lighters (supply and demand!) to sell at school aged eleven, moving onto buying and selling cars with my mum (who is a motor vehicle mechanic) as a teenager, to my Saturday job in the family hairdressers for eight years from aged 13 and so on… my entrepreneurial streak had begun way earlier than I had actually realised and that’s a huge part of my story- so why not tell it? 

They say the best public speakers are those who start with a story, so why not start writing yours?

For help writing and structuring your story why not book in a free discovery call: 

Fiona Duncan-Steer

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