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How To Tell Your Story In Professional Settings


Over the last ten years or so, personal branding has become one of the “new”, hot and sexy topics in the world of personal development. (It’s one of my most requested topics.)

As people scurry all over the place looking for a competitive advantage in a crowded market place, personal branding experts and advice have been popping up everywhere.

Deliver value. Promote your uniqueness. Be consistent and authentic. Get Get a blog. Develop an online presence and please don’t post anything stupid online. Do those things and you’ll be able to develop a strong personal brand.

Is that really all there is to it? Eh..not quite. There’s something missing.

No matter how great your resume or online presence is, sooner or later it’s going to be storytime. It could be over the phone or face to face, but eventually you will have to actually tell somebody your story.

Duncan Nugget® #210:
When told masterfully, your story brings your brand to life. It can even help you beat out a brand that’s stronger than yours.


Have you ever gone to see a movie because the trailer looked good? Based on the trailer, you decide to go check out the movie and it sucks. No plot. No excitement. No story.

Can I please have my money back?!

Everything you do up until you are face to face with someone or an audience is just a trailer, not the movie.

Duncan Nugget® #57:
Your personal brand isn’t you. It’s only a representation of you.

Think about it. Sooner or later the real you is going to have to walk through the door. So, being able to tell your story (and live up to it) in a clear, concise, and compelling way is worth millions.


What are you talking about and what’s the point? You should know the point of your story before you start telling it. That seems easy enough, doesn’t it? It seems like a simple thing to ask, right? Then why are people constantly being held hostage by boring storytellers telling pointless stories?

Don’t be a kidnapper. Know what your point is and get to it before the other person has to start looking for a hostage negotiator.

An easy way to do this is to use the STAR Method. It’s a technique that is used in behavioral interviewing. Although the STAR method was designed for interviews it works very well as a basic model for telling stories.

Situation/Scenario — What was the deal? What was going on?

Task — What were you working on? What were you supposed to accomplish?

Action — What did you do? What didn’t you do? (ex. I didn’t panic)

Result — What happened? What didn’t happen? (ex. The restaurant didn’t burn down.)

Example of the STAR method in use:

Recently, I was speaking to a group of students in the Virgin Islands. (Situation)

The U.S. Virgin Islands Dept. of Education hired me in to train 100 young leaders in the fight against drugs and violence. (Task)

I designed an informative and empowering 1 1/2 day program to equip the student leaders with the skill set necessary to become effective teen leaders in their schools and communities. (Action)

The students learned a lot and had an outstanding time, schools officials were extremely happy, and the Dept. of Education booked me for four more gigs. (Result)

As you can see from the above example, STAR method helps you to stay on point and deliver your story with clarity.


Brief is best. Long, drawn out stories are painful—100% medieval torture.

Can I please get the Cliff’s Notes version? On second thought, can you just…like…not tell it?

Seriously, get to the point in a reasonable amount of time. Please.

This doesn’t mean that you have to rush through your story. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until the last moment to deliver the punchline or nugget of wisdom. That’s is a good way to captivate the listener. But if she was respectful enough to sit there and listen to your story you had better reward her with something that is either humorous, insightful, poignant or a combination of all three.

Being concise is a delicate balancing act because some people want to hear all of the details. Other people—like me—want you to hurry up and get to the point.

How should you deal with this?

Be on the lookout for the zone-out. That’s the point in your story where the other person or your audience stops being actively engaged. The warning signs are obvious: no head nodding, no blinking, and no movement. If you realize that you’ve turned your victim into a mannequin…stop talking! And next time use the STAR method.


Relevant. Impactful. Persuasive. Whether it is consciously or unconsciously, the following statements, or something similar, are running through the mind of the person listening to you. So, your story had better do a great job of completing at least one of these statements:

I should care about what you’re telling me because…

I would be better off hiring you instead of someone else because…

I would be better off doing business with you instead of someone else because…

Competition for a person’s attention is fierce.

There are dozens of distractions and a ton of noise floating around in the average person’s head. Your story has to cut through it all and compel someone to take action that produces a favorable outcome for you. Tell a story about something that’s important to you AND the other person.

In professional settings like interviews, career fairs and professional networking events, it’s usually a good idea to steer clear of stories about your personal problems. Stick to a relevant story that demonstrates the tangible value you bring to the table. Tell a story that will clearly show what will be lost by overlooking you.

Telling a clear, concise, and compelling story will significantly increase your chances of being the brand of choice.

Million-Dollar Question:
Are you ready to tell the world your story in a
clear, concise, and compelling manner?


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