Are You Brave Enough to be Vulnerable?

Sharing a story about yourself makes you vulnerable. Since stories are about transformation, telling a personal story requires you reveal a flaw, error, or a roadblock that was a difficult to overcome. But it’s worth the risk. People are drawn to the transformative power of vulnerability because it’s rare to see influential people share something from their personal lives, especially something that they struggled with, but also because these stories draw people closer to you — and to your message.

It feels natural to tell stories around the dinner table with friends but somehow our ability to be vulnerable declines in professional settings. So, how do you successfully tell a transformational story about yourself?

First, you have to establish yourself as likeable so your listeners will root for you. Then, explain how you encountered a problem (at first you resisted, but eventually you accepted the challenge). Then, you conclude by making it self-evident how you changed or transformed in the process.

Telling a good story means that the main character (in this case, that’s you) must change somehow, which means there must be something worth changing. Translation: You have to be wrong, knocked down, or otherwise at a disadvantage.

This isn’t a flattering light to start from, and many people end up cutting this part for fear of damaging their reputation. But it’s the low points of a story that make the high points seem so high, not only by themselves, but by comparison. And like seeing a movie that you know is based on a true story, there’s something even more powerful about hearing highs and the lows straight from the people themselves.

Summing-up:  in your next presentation, when you’re tempted to skip over something that makes you uncomfortable or something that may not show you in the best light, think about why you’re avoiding it. Then, ask yourself, “Is there a message in what I learned that will make my presentation better? And am I brave enough to use it to my advantage?”

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