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How Storytelling Can Be A Valuable Career Skill

You don’t have to be a master orator to tell a good story. In her new book, ‘Let the Story Do the Work,’ author Esther Choy says you just have to make a connection with your audience.


Author: Anne Fisher Source: Monster

We all like to think that our decisions, especially in business, are based strictly on fact, not emotion, but the truth is, emotion plays a key role in every choice we make.

That’s where storytelling comes in, says Esther Choy, whose Chicago-based firm, Leadership Story Lab, coaches managers in storytelling techniques. In her consulting work and in the executive education courses she teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Choy says people often feel like they don’t have any interesting stories to tell. “But an effective story isn’t really about you,” she says. “It’s about drawing your listener in and creating a sense of shared experience. Storytelling is about eliciting a ‘Yes, that’s happened to me, too!’ from the person listening because now you’ve taken an everyday experience and turned it into a feeling of connection.”

In her new book, Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success, Choy explains how to turn even the most boring situations into fabulous anecdotes.

Monster recently spoke with Choy about how using her storytelling techniques can help you get hired.

Q.  You write in the book that every good story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Could you tell us a bit about that?

A.  Yes, it’s really the same structure that keeps us enthralled by a novel or a movie. The beginning should be intriguing and arouse your listener’s curiosity about what will happen next. The middle is where you frame the situation and describe what you were dealing with and what you did. The ending ties it all together, and it’s what people usually remember best about any story.  So, in a job interview, you want your ending to show why you’re the best candidate.

Q. That sounds like a lot to squeeze into an “elevator pitch” at a networking event. How do you decide what to leave out?

A.  A good rule of thumb is, if you need to keep it short, tell what you did and maybe why, and leave out how. For instance, let’s say you made a change that cut your employer’s costs, or you won over a tough client.  Skipping the details will probably spark your listener’s curiosity about how! If and when they ask, that’s your cue to explain a little more fully.


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