According to an HBR article, stories are great at building on your relationships with others. However, they are not great at starting those relationships. I’ll give you a recent example from my own life. My wife and I were recently invited to dinner by some friends we just met. Over the course of some small talk, the conversation shifted towards hobbies and exercise where one person decided to divulge their love for weightlifting and hate of cardio, specifically running which was then followed up with “what sport do you participate in?” I then shyly answered with: “Well, I’m a triathlete. I love to swim, bike, and run.” Obviously, this was a not big deal to me or him at all but it is a great example of how an individual can reveal too much too soon. Be careful not to share too much until you can gather more intel about your audience.
You have to pick and choose your moments to be vulnerable. Sharing information about yourself and help breakdown barriers but when you share too much it can quickly turn from helpful to awkward. Let’s look at Stacy. She was recently giving a presentation called “How to Build Successful and Healthy Habits” and decided to open up with a personal story where she would reveal the strategy behind her morning routine. She was off to a good start where she discussed how she wakes up at 5:30am, puts her exercise clothes and shoes next to her bed so she can start her day off with a run, but it was all downhill after that moment. She soon found herself rambling and revealing items about her love of McDonald’s Egg McMuffins and Vanilla Iced Coffees which soon defeated all credibility of a healthy life or plan. It was hard to recover after that moment.
So, what can you take away from these two examples:
– Take your time with self-disclosure
– Analyze your thoughts and statements before sharing
– Be mindful of your audience – always
– Protect your reputation
– When in doubt, don’t say anything you might regret
Self-disclosure is great because it showcases authenticity in a world that craves transparency. It’s a good thing but you need to learn how to be wise with when and how you share certain facts and stories.
Note: This is a modified excerpt from my book, What’s Your Presentation Persona?