Give your claims teeth. Back ’em up with a story.

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Whether we’re three or 93, every one of us loves a story. More important, stories are easily remembered and easily retold. In a persuasive presentation, stories are your way of proving that you, your product or service will do what you claim. Stories should be a part of your sales presentations, elevator pitches and interviews. Here’s how to use them:

In a persuasive presentation, use stories to back up the benefits of your product or service. Tell your audience (prospect or customer) about a customer who had a similar problem, used your product or service and benefited from the great results . Quote them if you can. If they experienced an increase in sales, a decrease in waste, anything that has a metric associated with it, include that in your story.

In your elevator pitch, use stories to illustrate who uses your product or service and how they’ve benefited from it. Here’s how it would go: “Good morning, my name is John Reilly and I’m with Glover Insurance Agency, where we help people find the best insurance at the best price. Last week I sat down with newlyweds who were combining their insurance. We were able to save them over $2,000 on car and homeowners. Even better, the new coverage is more comprehensive and we know from experience that the company we placed them with is incredibly responsive. The couple thanked me for their ‘wedding gift’. If you or someone you know would like a free review of your auto and home insurance, please give me a call. John Reilly, Glover Insurance.” Great story, right? And I’ll bet if you heard it you could repeat it to your dinner partner that night. Stories are sticky.

 If you are interviewing for a job, sit down with the job description ahead of time and map out the stories you can tell to prove you have experience doing the tasks listed. Make sure you include a positive result at the end of each of these stories.

For any of these opportunities, be sure to PRACTICE OUT LOUD. No story is ever going to be told perfectly the first time through. Make sure you are not filling your story with unnecessary details. Make sure your story is relevant. You don’t want to tell a story only to have the audience thinking, “Who cares?” Your stories should always help you prove a point or drive a point home. One more thing, your stories don’t necessarily have to be about your own experience. The purpose of the story is to reinforce your key messages. As long as it is absolutely relevant, easy to remember and retell, it will do its job. You’ll be heard. And remembered.

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