What's Your Story
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Learn our framework for answering "What's your story" on the spot to project confidence and authenticity in any social situation. Use these guidelines for personal and professional settings the next time you're asked what your story is. We all have a story, so learn the best and most natural way of responding :)

Imagine you’re at a social event and someone you’ve had your eye on comes up to you. They smile and ask “so, what’s your story?” Instead of busting out something clever or impressive, you freeze, thinking “yikes, what IS my story?” 

Them: So, what’s your story?

You: Uh…

Ahh, wouldn’t it be nice to have this one prepared?

Now, don’t be fooled by the question “what’s your story?” This is an informal way of saying “tell me about yourself.” But in a causal setting we wouldn’t say “tell me about yourself”. This isn’t an interview, after all. You could also think of “what’s your story” like an elevator pitch that doesn’t necessarily have to do with work.

In this lesson I’m going to walk you through steps so you can answer this question as effortlessly as possible. The best part is, you can deploy these steps on the spot so you can answer it on the fly.

If you’re interested, then keep on reading.

What’s your story? Well, we all have one. But we aren’t always prepared to tell it. Which is a shame, because a good personal story is the best way to launch into meaningful conversations with people who can make a real difference in your life, both personally and professionally.

One approach is to memorize a little script that you can deliver at the flip of a switch.

That can definitely work, but you risk sounding stale and inauthentic. I prefer a more organic approach, which is centered around four key questions:

  1. Where are you?
  2. Who are you speaking with?
  3. What do you want them to know about you?
  4. What are next steps?

Let’s look at these four steps more closely to understand how to phrase your response to this question.

Where are you? 

This one’s basic. And that’s on purpose. It’s easier to get a flow going when you have an easy question to answer.

All you need to do is identify the physical location you are in and tie your answer to that.

For example, if you’re at a café, alluding to using this café as your primary work space is a solid launching point. You could say something like “Well, you’ve caught me in my natural habitat – I run my business out of this very café.”

Or, if you’re at the annual office party and have met someone new, it probably makes sense to bring up something related to your job or the department you’re in. You could say something like: “Well, you see that desk over there? That’s where all the magic happens.”

And if you’re in the library, you could say something like: “Well, if you asked the librarian, she’d probably say I'm a permanent resident of the Biology section of this building.”

So use your location to help you frame the context of your response. That’s the first step.

Let’s move on to the next step.

Who are you speaking with?

The second step is to figure out who you’re speaking with. 

Is this a potential love interest? A possible business partner? A future client?

By determining who your audience is, you can determine what your objective is in interacting with them, and tailor your response accordingly.

If romance is the objective, it’s probably better to focus on an aspect of yourself that demonstrates how fun you are to hang out with rather than dwelling on how good you are at closing deals.

Alright, on to the next point.

What do you want them to know about you the most?

What “authentic self” do you want to project?

Remember, you can have more than one authentic self. We have many. Most of us behave differently around our family than we do our co-workers. Those are both authentic selves, but each has their time and place.

In the context of telling your story, this comes down to answering this question: when they recall the conversation later, what is the one thing you’d want them to remember about you?

If you present yourself as a capable coder who is passionate about building things, the next time they are wondering who they can hire to build their next app, they’ll think of you.

If you revealed your love for science fiction, you might get a surprise invitation when they decide to go to the next Star Wars film.

In most cases, the most important thing is to convey a sense of authenticity. You need to sound convincing and the best way to do that is to just be yourself. 

And don’t be afraid to take little jabs at yourself in the process, which will put them at ease and demonstrate you have a sense of humility and humor.

Ready for the final question?

What are next steps?

The last step to take when delivering your personal story is to keep the door open for further conversation. That’s key to further cultivating the relationship.

Wrap it up by opening the door to hearing their story, or to exploring a topic that came up during your spiel that appeared to be of interest to them.

This keeps the conversation flowing and allows you to develop a deeper understanding of who they are and how you can help each other.

Equally important, when the conversation is wrapping up, be sure to establish next steps.

For example, you can allude to a future meetup, a fun opportunity or an interesting learning experience.

An easy way to do this is with the phrase, “By the way”.

For example, to a potential client you might say, “By the way, I’m hosting a free webinar so if you’re interested in learning more about what my web courses look like, you can join the live session.”

Or to your potential romantic interest “By the way, I signed up for a cooking class next Wednesday. If you’re interested, we can check it out together?”

Or to a professional contact that you’d like to work with, you might say “By the way, if you want to see the app that I’m building, I can send you the designs of the prototype. I’d love your feedback.”

So in summary, when you’re crafting your “What’s your story” it’s best to have these four steps in mind. 

  1. Leverage your location to set the context
  2. Establish your objectives by determining who it is you are speaking to
  3. Choose which authentic self to project and decide what you want them to take away from the interaction
  4. Set next steps. Find an excuse to keep the conversation going, ideally with another in-person meetup

This is my favorite way of answering “What’s your story” because it works in any social setting – personal or professional. 

And even better, instead of giving a canned and boring response, this approach keeps things fresh. It will flow from you organically and project authenticity and confidence.

So no more stressing out when someone asks you what your story is. You now have a roadmap for what to say and why.

That’s all from me today Explearners. Add these strategies to your Explearning communications toolkit, try them out, and make them your own.

If you enjoyed this lesson, like, comment and share, it really helps support the Explearning community and all the hard work we put into this channel.

And if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to join our tribe of Explearners.

I’ll see you in my next lesson!😊

Happy Explearning!

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit academy.explearning.co and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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