Tell me a little about yourself.
Why don’t we start with introductions, first?
What’s your story?
Sound familiar? If you’re meeting new people, interviewing for a new job, or making a presentation, it’s customary to start with a brief overview.
That’s why having a personal narrative is helpful. As part of your overall personal brand, it provides a story framework for you to share who you are in a simple and memorable way that is easy for the listener or reader to follow.
In previous Cultivate Your Personal Brand articles, I’ve highlighted ways to find your voice, define your purpose and mission, personify your brand essence, and build out your key messages. Your narrative pieces this all together in a rich and lively way underlining your unique value proposition and building on the information that makes you, YOU.
Here are three tips to craft your narrative:
1. Gather your facts.
Since a personal narrative is about you – it should be factual, include your mission, and align with your values and actions. We all have skills, interests, and experiences we can talk about for hours. However, every situation is unique, so you’ll want to be prepared to share who you are from a multitude of perspectives that resonate with your audience. Introducing yourself in a personal setting will be different from a professional one, where you would center your message on your career path and aspirations.
2. Write it down.
Detailing out your story helps you organize and categorize the essential facts you’d like to share about yourself. Usually, about one to two pages long, your narrative describes your background, expertise, mission, values, and purpose. Once you have this documented, you can extract information for other uses such as a professional bio submission or 30-second elevator pitch.
3. Choose what’s relevant and ditch the extraneous.
Take the time to consider the audience and venue. Depending on the setting, you may have less than a minute to speak, so be mindful of how much detail you share. Also, be aware of how you’re feeling that day as your tone and mannerisms make a difference in people’s perceptions of you. Take a break and get some fresh air if you’re not feeling great. Make sure to read the room and answer the question you’re asked. If the occasion calls for a quick introduction, be brief. Focus on what’s relevant for the circumstance and leave your agenda to the side.
Once you have your narrative, practice it out loud for various circumstances.
You want to exude confidence when speaking about yourself and remove any self-judgment or negative talk. Remember, others are interested in learning about you, or they wouldn’t have asked. You’re in the driver’s seat, so choose the information that you’re proud of sharing, where you naturally light up and radiate energy and positivity. Treat each encounter as a fresh one and give it your best. As you practice your narrative, you can continue to evolve it to fit your needs. Lastly, you must believe in yourself – so never apologize for what makes you, you. If you find yourself stuck, start with finding your voice and delineate your purpose, values, vision, and mission. They serve as your moral foundation, where you can experiment with expressing yourself in distinctive ways.