Share your "wow" sabbatical story
Re-living your sabbatical through the enjoyment of sharing your story with others is one of the highlights of returning home. It can be a wonderful way to keep the memories alive and hold onto the sabbatical glow for as long as possible.
But not all stories are interesting. You can either tell your story in a way that engages and delights, or you can drone on until people glaze over with boredom.
Here's how to leave people saying "wow" after hearing your sabbatical story. Following these tips will have you hitting all the high notes and making sure people walk away remembering how amazing your story was. Hopefully, they are so inspired, they take a sabbatical themselves.
TIP 1 - Know your audience
The way you tell your sabbatical story will change depending on who you’re communicating with. Talking to the CEO about your experience would be a different tone to sharing your story with your best friend or writing an article for LinkedIn.
Write or speak with receiver in mind. What would be interesting to them? What parts of the story might they relate to? What are the key points you want them to remember from your story?
TIP 2 - Focus on emotions not facts
Communicate with people on an emotional level. The facts and details of what you did are important for context, but what really engages people is the language of emotion. What were your highlights and what were you feeling at those peak moments? Did you have any lowlights and what did you learn from those tough experiences? How has the sabbatical changed you and how do you feel different now?
"People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you make them feel"
- Maya Angelou.
Provide just enough information on what you did for your story to make sense. Focus the rest of your story telling on how it made you feel and what you learnt.
TIP 3 - Illustrate with photos
Pick 2-3 photos that illustrate your story. People want to see you in the photos. While beautiful photos of landscapes or scenes may bring back wonderful memories for you, it will be more difficult for people who weren’t there to connect with those photos.
Put your worries and vanity aside and include photos of you experiencing the true sabbatical. The best photos to include are ones that illustrate your story – the good, the bad, the ugly. To tell a good story, sometimes we need to illustrate a low point or that unexpected disaster you had to deal with.
TIP 4 - Be open but prudent
There is tremendous power in sharing your truth and being vulnerable. It helps people relate to your story and can make a sabbatical seem more achievable for them. Be open to sharing what went well as well as things you’ve struggled with. Help to inspire and support others to take a sabbatical.
It is equally important to only share what you are comfortable with. This is particularly important if an article will be shared with a wider network or on social media. Don’t share details of other people without their permission and don’t share details of yourself that you aren’t happy being publicly known. Once a story is published, it can’t be taken back. Also be careful sharing identifiable information such as where you live or where your kids go to school. Use common sense and be internet security savvy.
If you're worried about what's appropriate to share - search for #sabbatical and look at what other people have shared.
TIP 5 - Share it!
Probably the most important point. Capture your lessons, tips and inspiration and get your story out there. Tell people about your sabbatical, inspire them, answer their questions. Share it within your company, on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
Example sabbatical stories