How to Tell Your Story: 3 Lessons From Social Media Influencers
Being able to communicate who you are is incredibly important. This could be through retelling a childhood story to a friend or describing yourself to a potential employer. Have you ever fumbled through a business presentation in front of co-workers or stumbled through a conversation with your boss?
Telling your story has a domino effect. If you tell it right, you gain visibility, which turns into praise and respect in the workplace, which turns into a promotion. Next thing you know, you’re being flown out to a faraway country to share your success story in front of huge crowds. You get the idea!
However, storytelling is a skill that does not come easy. It’s usually associated with fear of having an audience that is either bored or eager to see you struggle. How to overcome the fear of public speaking is a real challenge for aspiring storytellers..
But if you spend any time online, you’ll find people that love and excel in storytelling. Social media influencers are rockstars at telling stories and have made entire careers out of it. We spoke to two of them to find out their experiences. Here are their three key insights on how to be an effective storyteller in a world where connecting with audiences can lead to job advancement, a life-altering career change, or a completely new you.
1. How to engage your audience
The key to successful storytelling is keeping your audience engaged. BabbleOnBrooke is a social media influencer, speaker, and speaking coach who has spent years perfecting the art of communication to connect with her listeners and hold their attention. Early in her professional career, Brooke realized the importance of perceiving her audience with empathy.
“It's like the golden rule: I treat them how I would want to be treated. So I have never looked at them as a number. To me, they're each a specific person. I do my best to get to know them all as much as I can. I present them with an uplifting way of being, and they start to reflect that back.”
Another important piece is the verbal execution of your story. Humor writer and digital storyteller Evelyn From The Internets has spoken at conferences and schools and has teamed up with Allure magazine on concept videos. “Every time I see an online personality wreck a live broadcast or not be as vibrant in real life, my desire to get better at public speaking is renewed.” Think about the times you’ve seen this yourself. For example, a popular YouTuber who seemed to shine in their videos but is completely uninspiring in an interview or meet-and-greet. Their vocal delivery likely played a huge part in that, whether it was because they were monotone, mumbled, or used filler words like “um” and “like.” Lacking basic public speaking skills can immediately turn off your audience.
Pay attention the next time you watch a video online. What can the speaker do better to engage you as a listener?
2. How to be authentic
Believe it or not, you’ve been practicing authentic storytelling your entire life. When you spill the tea with your best friend about a crazy night out, you’re telling a story from the heart and holding nothing back. Even in the office, when you’re running through meeting highlights with your boss—that’s a story, too. So, how do you tell your story and remain authentic in front of an audience you’ve never met before? You have to speak to the audience as if you’re having a conversation with a friend. It’s about sharing what’s unique and personal to you and not shying away from that vulnerability.
“It's the golden rule: I treat them how I would want to be treated”
Daniel Kingsley, a leadership and authentic speaking coach, wrote about his own understanding of authenticity and its importance in public speaking. “We are fundamentally interested in other human beings being human.” You might believe that being a strong public speaker or storyteller means you have to adopt a certain presentation persona to impress your listeners. Although emulating your role models is a great way to practice and build confidence, be mindful that your speaking style and your story should truly match yourself as a person. Your listeners will be quick to pick up on any signs of inauthenticity. They want to hear yours, the way only you could tell it.
BabbleOnBrooke attributes her success on social media to her authenticity. “At the end of the day, it comes down to just being you, as cliché as it sounds. Being you and being present is going to do massively more than any tips you're trying to memorize or a way that you're trying to be. When you're yourself, you're going to be comfortable, and your message will come out organically.”
3. How communication skills facilitate career moves
How can storytelling help you in your career? Evelyn From The Internets went from being the Director of Video Strategy at Naturally Curly to being a Digital Storyteller with over 200,000 subscribers and 15 million views on YouTube. She even has her own segment on the educational YouTube channel Crash Course called “Business Soft Skills.”
Evelyn shared her personal thoughts on the importance of effective communication: “Nobody works completely solo. No matter the industry, we are all in the people business. The second you have to send an email, collaborate on a project, or build a team, effective communication comes into play. It's so important because it's the root of all our relationships, both at work and at home!”
You see, storytelling is not just a skill or pastime—it’s a requirement for success. Even though not all of us work in PR or Marketing, we all work with people. Being able to communicate your story allows you to own your story and shape its course. Regardless of whether you’re a social media personality or an everyday storyteller, having the ability to tell your story in an engaging and authentic way will help you get to where you want to be.
It’s your story, so get up and tell it!
By Emina Cepalovic, Growth Marketer and Social Media Lover