I spent yesterday morning in a sales workshop. One of our executive sales leaders took us through the process of using insights to help customers get a better understanding of how we do what we do. The insight part was not really new – we have always been pretty consultative on the whole. The new part was actually laying out a specific plan on how we were going to take them through the conversation, almost like chapters of a story.
Two things struck me.
This is exactly the same process we use to write a stand-up comic bit. You lay out a scenario, take your listener through the details and then, BOOM, drive them to the punch line.
That was a very fun (but unsharable) realization midway through the morning.
Here is the more relevant part: everyone in the hiring process needs to get a handle on this technique.
As a job seeker, the only way for hiring managers to understand what you can do, is to take them through what you have done before. You need a concise, relatable way to share those details.
As a hiring manager, you need to be able to paint a picture of your group and the cool things they are working to accomplish. That’s how you attract the really great talent.
When someone asks for an example of a behaviour or a situation, they are really asking for a story. Smooth story telling does require some practice. Your best joke is the best because you can tell it with the right amount of details and you don’t leave out anything that’s important.
Your best stories are the same thing.
Describe the setting (A string walks into a bar) and some details about what transpires ( he asks for a martini, the bartender tells him they don’t serve strings). He ties himself into a knot, tousles one end and asks again. (Bartender says “Hey aren’t you a string?”. String says “No, I’m a frayed knot.)
That may be a little too simple to explain real work situations but you get the idea. It does not have to be complicated but it does take practice.
Take some time this weekend to practice telling some good work stories. You will be glad you did.