[MUSIC]. Yes, it is possible to give too much personal information in a professional setting. Talking about yourself and sharing personal information for the sake of it is a waste of everyone's time. But, the narrative of your brand is a story that only you can tell authentically. And one that only you can carefully craft to have the biggest impact on your credibility, your career, and your future. That is not only personal, it is powerful. Hi, I'm Michele Weldon, and I'm a journalist, author, assistant professor emerita, and director of the Northwestern Public Voices Fellowship. I'm also director of programs for Illinois Humanities Council. [MUSIC] The cost of missing voices is dire. In the media landscape, approximately 80% of the voices we hear from, are white, male, and Western. So, we simply do not hear a lot of different stories. Story is a mixture of who you are, what you know and how you share your life experience and interests. Your personal story is linked to your professional story, not separate from it. But well-integrated into the message of who you are. And you can start building the story of your life into the story of your work now. Why are you interested in medicine or another area of study? What has brought you here? What are some challenges that you have overcome? And how does your personal history contribute to your aspirations, expectations and goals? You can share those selective anecdotes in a number of ways to elevate your professional standing. Here's how you can put your story out there. Some high-impact platforms to augment or boost your profile are commentary, opinion, essay, logs, live storytelling, poetry slams or open mikes. You can also build skills by joining school or community organizations and take a leadership role. You can write or speak about your role or the news of your organization or school in a school publication, blog, community outlet, or even a Facebook page for the organization. The goal is to get practice expressing a vision, mission, or message to a larger public audience. And to feel comfortable telling your story. I'm a leader with the OpEd Project, an initiative that has helped more than 10,000 academics, teens, professionals, advocates and individuals throughout the world to define their thought leadership since its founding in 2008. I've been director of the OpEd Projects Northwestern Public Voices Fellowship for the past three years. What I know to be true is that well-articulated opinion, upheld with solid evidence and crafted with elements of personal story, can elevate your profile and lead to many opportunities. That could augment your career, and open the door to opportunities such as scholarships, invitations to participate in other programs, or groups. There are hundreds of outlets, domestic and global, accessible to you, where you can engage in a public conversation. You can speak up at church, at school, in local organizations, and community groups. You can give informal and formal presentations, even toast the bride at a family wedding. You can pepper your talk with experiences you have had that draw a larger meaning. Things you have observed that speak to a larger truth. Your byline on an intelligent, newsworthy, better blog, is something you can share in your spheres of influence among friends, families, associates, mentors and allies. You can include it in your resume. Public speaking, whether it is as a stand alone speech at a conference, as a panelist at your school, library or foreign organization club, or any group, is an avenue of expression into the public conversation. You must be exquisitely prepared. Even if the topic you are speaking about is one you know well, you craft the talk into an eloquent product, with a beginning, middle and end. Also know that you have 15 seconds to take control of the audience. Your peers will judge within that time frame, if you're worth listening to. If you don't start with authority and a commanding, knowledgable presence, you can't recover. And you can talk about anything with authority that you know about well. It just must be authentic and believable. You'll know almost instantly if you have the audience. As soon as people begin to look at their phones or each other, you will understand that you have lost the opportunity to share your story in an effective way. So you must write a script. Within the first few sentences, you establish that you are worth someone's time. Showcasing your area of interest and life experience. You cannot speak before an audience and expect to build up their interest slowly. You need a high-energy delivery. Insight and information they need to know. The information you deliver must be surprising, edifying, or uplifting and most importantly, useful. It can be amusing, heartbreaking, terrifying, or sad, but it cannot be boring. If you doubt the power of a well-told public story, then watch a TED talk. The success formula includes minimal, high-impact visuals, powerful language, intelligent content with sometimes highly emotional, personal anecdotes. All told within 15 to 18 minutes. There are TEDxTeen opportunities all over the country and the world. Ideas worth sharing is their tagline. And millions of people around the world have watched new ideas shared on ted.com. Is your idea, your story worth sharing? If not, shape it so that it is. It will take time to get to the big stage perhaps, but it's not beyond your abilities. Start small and local. Look for opportunities to speak through you neighborhood, school, library, local clubs, organizations, or area non-profits. Even agree to give the birthday or anniversary toast at a family party. Practice speaking in public with a prepared text so you control that feeling of nervousness. Because everyone gets nervous at first, when talking to a group. Pay attention to how politicians speak on TV. Watch political debates and State of the Union addresses. Go online and watch TEDTalks. Listen to how your principal or teacher speaks before a large group in the auditorium. Or how news anchors talk during broadcast of the news. Pay attention to delivery and body language. Speak slowly and clearly. Give people something to talk about. By putting your voice out into the world, whether spoken, or written, you are opening up the possibilities for more opportunities to express yourself. Say yes to everything that makes sense. When someone in your class, school, network, club or group asks for your input, agree to help. Yes, it is true that once you establish a name for yourself, as a willing participant in the public sphere, you may get some invitations that are not in line with your goals. You don't have to say yes to be the live auctioneer at a school fundraiser, if you do not feel completely comfortable. But do say yes to everything that fits into your mission. Do not agree to do something you don't believe in, a cause you don't support or an idea you do not want to advocate. Because you want to be authentic. Why do you do what you do is a website and global movement to articulate the passion and drive behind a person's life work and interests. Do your professional goals align with your personal goals? Can you see the intersection of your own story and the narrative of your career? For me, the integrity of story and the role of truth in society are at the heart of my life's work. Whether it is telling my own story in an artful way, through memoir, essay, or op-ed, or integrating personal story in my keynotes, lectures, seminars, classes, programs, journalism, or other collaborations, I shape my life into the story of my work. And my life is the better for it. [MUSIC].