Everyone knows the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Most of the things we remember easiest come in the form of stories. On April 2, Global Connections held a workshop featuring Jenifer Sarver, a recent candidate for U.S. Congressional District 21 and Principal at Sarver Strategies. The workshop focused on the idea of telling narratives to create a personal brand. For students interested in speaking about their endeavors, especially political ones, learning to tell stories is a valuable skill to have. Even for those intimidating first interviews for the post-graduation dream job, communicating clearly is an absolute must.
During the workshop, Sarver spent time helping students craft their stories for potential messages students could someday share with the world with a special focus on politically driven issues as per the theme of women in politics this year. “Stories are how we remember things, they ground our experiences, and they are ways in which we can tell other people about things that matter to us,” Sarver said.
She guided the audience through some basic narrative structures, beginning with the 5 C’s of Communication which are clarity, conviction, compassion, consistency, and credibility. Sarver expanded upon each point and asked audience members to watch her own style as an example of using stories to explain things. For the consistency point, she made the audience laugh as they watched a clip of Bill Clinton saying the same phrase within one speech no less than 22 times to reiterate her point that sometimes repetition is simply the best way to make a message stick.
After the 5 C’s, she moved on to explaining the Fundamentals of Effective Communication as a three-legged stool. Each leg stands for one important component: audience, message, and messenger. She noted here that where most people go wrong is not putting the audience first. “If you can ask the rhetorical question, ‘What keeps them up at night?’ and then answer that need, you are putting your audience first,” Sarver said. But it’s really about drawing in the attention, and using storytelling is the best way to go, according to Sarver. She explained, “Stories are important because that’s how we convey meaning. It’s also a universal language.” It makes sense that we learn how to weave in our arguments through a narrative arc because the human brain is physically wired to best receive messages in this way. After all, we know George Washington to be an honest guy from the story we have all heard about his confession. Tell people who you are through your story.