Cheryl Chartier is a corporate storyteller for Articulus. She’s a career veteran in oil and gas having held senior roles at AMEC Foster Wheeler, NATO and KBR. She joins two-time Emmy award winning journalist and Pink Petro TV anchor, Linda Lorelle to explain how to “build your story”.
Cheryl was in the industry for over 20 years, starting off as a mechanical engineer then moving into business development, marketing proposals and big deals. That’s what turned her onto the need for better storytelling.
“When we were trying to win business in the industry if we couldn’t tell our story very well we couldn’t win.”
Five years ago she left the industry to join the consultancy Articulus as a corporate storyteller who does a lot of work inside the industry to help others learn how to tell their story. Cheryl notes that holistically the industry doesn’t tell its story properly, or even at all, so we find a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of fake news about the big bad oil which has been around for a long time. Efforts like Pink Petro are leading the way in telling a better story so we can attract and retain the talent, particularly women, who seemed to be turned off by the idea of big bad oil. We need to get better at telling our story and this is one of our biggest problems.
"When you coach some of the companies you work with what’s the first thing you tell them when you’re trying to get them to understand what it means to first of all own their story and secondly, how they go about communicating that story."
"Because the industry is very technical they tend to approach things very technically and logically. They leave out the emotional components that are so important to make the story resonate with people; make the story really get into the peoples hearts. They have to layer the technical information with what’s in it for the audience that they’re talking to, and how they can prove that what they say is true. And how they can give perspective on why these messages are important. So it’s the layering of true storytelling ingredients for persuasion that I work on with the companies.
The emotional connection is really what’s going to get people to separate you from the crowd. It’s not necessarily about what you do, but why you do what you do, the passion that you bring to it, and how you can get them to get their return on investment from working with you.
For some reason it’s thought we need to remove the emotion from a business like ours and all we need is the logic but the reality is that human beings make decisions based on both logic and emotion, so if we’re constantly trying to strip the emotion out of our messages we paralyze peoples ability to get on board with things and decide if this is where they should go."
Story telling in respect to a personal brand
“There are a lot of Pink Petro members who are in transition, some are looking for new jobs; some are in a job but not quite where they want to be. Maybe they’re struggling to communicate who they are and what they want to achieve. How does someone go about using storytelling techniques to help advance their career?”
“I love working with individuals who are trying to work on their brand and find better ways to communicate their brand. One of the first things we do is find the differentiator.”
- What is it about this person and their brand that could stand out? What is the differentiator that makes people want to hear more?
- Look for the subtle differentiators – things that are unique to them and bring those out in the story.
- Also add elements of proof and evidence – we don’t want people to just trust what we’re saying but we want to be able to back that up with real evidence.
- Be kind of scientific about the approach of putting that message together.
- Then work on authentic delivery because the delivery of the message is so important.
- Energy, passion, smile – bring emotion to the message.
- Delivery is so important when you’re trying to win someone on your personal brand.
Tactics for overcoming anxiety and nerves when presenting your message
Whenever you have a high stakes performance that’s when the anxiety can come on. Ways to avoid anxiety are:
- Being prepared and practicing
- Power posing to make you stand tall and imposing
- Getting ready for this performance
"When it comes down to it, everyone is qualified so it comes down to who we want to work with and that’s where storytelling can really help you. That’s what can distinguish the culture, the attitude, the passion, the team, all those things that are the differentiators that go over and above the qualification.”
How to get that edge over everyone else
Learn how to tell a better story. We have the power to get out there now; we have the technology at our fingertips; we have the ability through social media to get out there so we need to take this power on and start telling the other stories. Start telling people through conversations; start telling them through social media; tell the story of how we can be part of the solution not part of the problems within the industry.
The industry has always been afraid to tell its story externally, with layers and layers of communication, getting things approved before you communicate anything externally.
There has to be a story out there that’s compelling enough to entice people to want to come into the industry. Is the industry good for women? Women are hearing it’s not a good place to work but there’s a lot of stories as to why that is not true.
Cheryl’s take home message
“The industry empowered me to be a Mom and a career woman and I had lots of good opportunities and good choices and if I don’t tell that story then others don’t know. There’s so much richness in how we can drive the diversity that Pink Petro’s all about and we can use these platforms that we have available to us. By getting out there ourselves we help everyone get engaged by solving these problems, not just complaining about them.”