Storytelling can help you land your next job

  • Laura Lewis-Barr offers workshops in storytelling and presentation skills.

    Laura Lewis-Barr offers workshops in storytelling and presentation skills. Richard Barr

Laura Lewis-barr
Updated 6/20/2011 8:36 PM

West suburban workshop helps participants please an interviewer's brain--through stories.

Jenny McCarthy (name changed on request) was14 months unemployed and becoming more desperate to find a job. "Even though I practiced for my interview questions, I often stumbled on my answers, got self-conscious and embarrassed. With some of my friends I'm funny and articulate but with most people, I clam up. The worst moment is when the interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself."


Jenny needed to tell stories, especially her own.

The human brain craves and is hard-wired for stories. According to researchers Prentice and Gerrig, our brains are built to process information from stories. This explains why simply listing accomplishments or skills during an interview is less effective than telling an illustrative story. Tom Washington, the author of Interview Power, devotes a full chapter to storytelling because "in less than three minutes, you can tell a powerful story that will make interviewers remember you favorably for days, weeks, or even months after the interview."

By practicing "accomplishment stories" (describing a situation, our actions, and the results), job seekers not only become more memorable, they also build empathy and a deeper understanding in the interviewer.

In the Western suburbs, Laura Lewis-Barr emphasizes storytelling in her "Fearless Dynamic Speaking" workshops. Participants in the one-day event practice storytelling for use in business presentations or interviews. Lewis-Barr has been teaching drama and public speaking for over 15 years. "I had materials for a 16 week class but working professionals wanted a one day workshop, so I pulled my most powerful exercises and designed a class for a small group. Many begin the day fearful, but by 5pm they've changed their minds about speaking for others." After one workshop, participant Richard Perez wrote, "I just had my first speaking event since taking your class and it went very well. I remembered to speak louder and I engaged my audience considerably better." Jenny also found the class "immediately beneficial" and landed a job shortly after learning to "share the details of my story, to help others understand."

The next "Fearless Public Speaking workshops will be held at the Itasca Place Hyatt. For upcoming dates contact

Training 4 Breakthroughs offers workshops in public speaking, emotional intelligence, time management, assertiveness, and other topics to help professionals improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal communication.