New Leaders Series: Tell Your Story

Part 2: Tell Your Story, Create Connection

Tell your story and create a connection.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

In my early days of leadership and teaching, I would get extremely nervous before speaking to large groups. Am I interesting enough? Is my message clear? One critical element I realized further along after boring many audiences was that storytelling was the key especially when you are new to a community. When I began with a story, people were hooked and they got to know me a bit better. The act of beginning with a relevant story also helped me relax as a speaker. Telling your story helps people relate to you and identify with you. 

We remember stories. Stories can build connection and ultimately your relatability and your relationship. If you are speaking in a full faculty, board, or parent meeting, ‘make sure your pitch provides information on competence and change, experience and expectations, and your overall leadership approach.’ writes David Sluss in Harvard Business Review

Story-Telling Tips:

  • Do not overshare. You are still the supervisor/boss, not a friend.
  • Be vulnerable. Share how you felt.
  • Be sincere. Tell the truth.
  • Think Before You Talk
  • Tell enough to make you relatable to the group you are trying to connect with.
  • Tie your story into the position. How does it relate to the reasons you sought out this career opportunity? How does it connect to future goals you have for the community? How does your story impact your investment in the mission, vision, and values of the community?

In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy.

Bronwyn Fryer in Harvard Business Review

A story can be a powerful tool. As a new leader, this can be a key way for you to share about yourself and help your constituencies get to know you. Whenever I shared a story as a leader, people would approach me after and say, ‘Oh, that happened to me too.’ or ‘I had a similar issue.’ That’s when I knew I had made a connection!