I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. – Confucius On Friday of the Nexus Global Youth Summit, I had the pleasure of attending a breakout session on “The art of storytelling and how to create a personal brand that works.” While storytelling might once have been more likely to come up in discussion around kindergarten than in business, it has become the buzzy new of the moment business strategy. I’ve taken classes on the subject, read articles, listened to speakers. What stood out about this session was an exercise in which the panel had the audience partner up and participate. For three minutes, one person would talk about “why they do what they do” while their partner listened in (more or less) silence. This three minutes was followed immediately by one minute of the listener telling the speaker what they heard.

With only three minutes of content, I thought my partner would more or less repeat back everything I said. This was not the case. As the majority of participants confirmed, what the listeners heard was not what the speakers expected. It was fascinating to hear what the listeners picked up on and it was a good reminder that in many cases, what you say matters less than what they hear. When it comes to selling your personal brand, pitching your business, communicating with your customers, it is what they hear that matters. Picking up on those points can be incredibly valuable—what resonates with your audience and why?  How can you get them to remember you and understand your goals, your business, what you can do for them, or what they can do for you? It starts with a good story. A story made valuable in its ability to engage—to not only reveal what is meaningful to you, but also to reveal what is meaningful to your audience.

- Mariah Maguire-Fong