Why Successful Entrepreneurs Tell Personal Stories

September 15, 2015

Why Successful Entrepreneurs Tell Personal Stories

As a small business owner, whether you have a conversation with one person or with a thousand, all speaking is public speaking. When you speak, telling appropriate personal stories is an excellent way to build rapport. Ultimately, your prospects and clients will do business with people they like and trust.

At age 14, I made my first sale. My sunny neighbour Lester and I were members of the school concert band. He played the trumpet and I played the saxophone. We wanted to raise money to travel to an upcoming music competition, but I was too scared to sell anything.

Lester convinced me to go door to door with him to sell boxes of chocolate-covered almonds. After visiting a few houses, Lester suggested that we split up. He said, “We can cover more ground.”

I worried about getting rejected, and not knowing what to say. After knocking on over a dozen doors, I heard many variations of “No thanks.” And my fear turned into frustration.

I was about to call it quits and walk home when Lester convinced me to knock on one more door. He said, “It’s just a numbers game!” So I visited one last house. This time, I tried a different approach. I asked questions that led to a story about why I was there: Have you heard of Turner Fenton Secondary School? Do you like music? Do you like chocolate?

The man who answered the door asked me, “Are you serious?” As it turns out, he had his own story: he was an alumnus from my high school! When he was a student, he had also played in the concert band. So not only did he buy a box of chocolate-covered almonds from me, he bought two!

Sales improved. I don’t remember who won the music competition, but I do know that we raised enough money to get there. We had to knock on many doors. But more doors stayed open after we built a common connection over stories.

People love stories. Stories can change minds, touch hearts, and shape beliefs. As an entrepreneur, add personal stories to your presentations and you will accomplish remarkable results.

This article contains an excerpt from Ron Tsang’s upcoming book, From Presentation to Standing Ovation. Want to find out when the book coming out? Join the announcements list: email Ron at ron@levelupworkshops.com.


Ron Tsang

Ron Tsang helps entrepreneurs give compelling presentations to clients, employees, and investors. He has empowered his clients to understand and master critical areas of public speaking since 2004. Ron has an MBA from the University of Toronto and an HBA from the University of Waterloo. Find him on Level Up Workshops and folllow @rhtsang.