An example of a personal experience used for a business story
“I had always kept my personal life, separate from my working life.” Recently, a client I was working with shared this comment with me. Previously, I had suggested that he reflect on experiences in his personal life, for possible ideas to hook an audience to listen to him, or to prompt ideas for a key message for one of his work presentations/meetings.
He had never considered how his personal life might be a fruitful storehouse, that could benefit him in his work. One message from his personal life that he used in a work presentation was as follows. He had been reading a bedtime story to his young child, entitled Rock the Boat. When he was asked to present to a group of aspiring leaders in his organisation, he realised that the key message he wanted the audience to retain and act upon was in fact, to Rock the boat.
In the presentation to the audience, his opening hook started with a reference to the bedtime story he had been reading to his young child, which he then segued into his key message of ‘Rock the boat’ (That is, to be an inspiring leader you need to stir up, ‘rock’ the environment to develop a top performing operation).
The ‘how to apply’ for this post: Reflect on experiences you’ve had over your lifetime. Here’s a useful way to do this is:
1. Think of your life when you were a child, then as a teenager and then as an adult.
2. For each of these life stages reflect on experiences within the following categories: Family, Friends, School, Holidays, Hobbies, Rites of Passage, Parenting.
3. When you find an event, experience of note, reflect on why it was significant to you and think about what you learned that would also benefit people in your workplace.
4. Test out your description of the event, including a message/point, with your work colleagues in ‘safe’ situations.
5. If your colleagues respond well to your experience/story, start using it in you work presentations and meetings.