I observe many effective product managers who are skilled storytellers. What are your best tips for telling stories more effectively?
My go-to remedy for any issue is usually reading. There aren’t many issues that are actually brand-new. Some ideas I’ve heard include enrolling in an improv class or organizing a D&D campaign with buddies. I personally gained knowledge via conversing with strangers in a variety of venues.
One of the biggest improvements I started seeing in my storytelling was understanding generally what roles drew in what kinds of people and what those kinds of people cared about. Another improvement was asking for feedback in groups and one/one settings to help calibrate what I focused on in different meetings. (I.e. design generally cares about different things than c levels). The last huge improvement I made was ensuring I got good sleep. Good sleep means better energy which means more expressiveness and better emotional regulation. I’ve found people often gravitate towards passion.
Once I know my audience I will spend most of my prep time contemplating what questions I think will be asked of me. Being able to answer questions on your feet has been one of the biggest ways of getting buy in. It shows that you’ve thought through the problem, you have thought about why your approach is better than others, and that you know your stuff.
I learned meeting skills and thinking on the fly from DnD, no BS.
In what context? What setting? Various stories call for various techniques.
@BobbyDuncan, How so? No matter how a story is told, its basic framework remains the same. A good story must fundamentally have a beginning, middle, and end.
If I’m writing a user story, it needs to be concise, very simple to comprehend, and leave as little potential for misinterpretation as possible.
When attempting to persuade an executive team to adopt a feature recommendation or approach, I focus more on inspiring feelings of wonder and excitement. I only use the statistics I offer as a stage backdrop for my narrative. It’s just as essential how I convey a tale as the story itself.
There are various situations that call for a particular kind of storytelling. There are starts, middles, and ends in a lot of bad stories.
True, but all of those “styles” still need a basic beginning, middle, and end.
As you pointed out, audience is very important too.
Lots of courses but mostly practice imo.
Think critically about how you communicate things, specially in important presentations to sponsors or stakeholders.
I personally try to ask about what could’ve been communicated better or wasn’t clear enough with those I have the confidence to.
You’re explaining, negociating and basically selling your vision of the product’s strategy to different people with different roles, positions and personalities constantly.
I always try to give them enough information so they understand the problem we’re trying to solve without giving too much in order to not overwhelm them. It’s also important to explain how they can help us give a solution to such problems (ideally how solving that problem would solve a problem for them as well).
I can provide you with some tips for becoming a better storyteller:
- Know your audience: Understanding your audience is key to telling a compelling story. Tailor your story to fit the interests and needs of your audience.
- Start strong: Begin with a hook that captures your audience’s attention and sets the stage for the rest of the story.
- Keep it simple: Avoid overly complicated language or convoluted plots. Simple stories are often the most effective.
- Use vivid descriptions: Use descriptive language to paint a picture of the characters and setting in your story. This will help your audience visualize the story and become emotionally invested.
- Add conflict: A good story needs conflict to keep the audience engaged. Introduce obstacles or challenges that the characters must overcome to create tension and interest.
- Practice: The more you practice telling stories, the better you will become. Look for opportunities to tell stories in everyday situations, such as at work or with friends.
- Learn from others: Pay attention to how other successful storytellers captivate their audience. Take note of their techniques and incorporate them into your own storytelling.
Remember, practice and persistence are key to becoming a better storyteller. Keep refining your skills, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and styles.
Consider your audience and the issues that matter to them. The story you share with a customer differs from the story you share with your CEO, which differs from the story you could share with your development team.
Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling were published by Emma Coats (though she now says they should have been called guidelines). A lot of things, though not everything, is directly related to storytelling in a professional setting. PIXAR TIPS: ‘Brave’ artist Emma Coats shares her storytelling wit and wisdom on Twitter (#FollowHer) - The Washington Post
Many observations. Observe some Ted Talks. Pay attention to how others tell tales at work. Take note of the things that you find compelling. See how the listeners react to what they say as well.
A lot of training. Pay attention to how people respond to what you say while you converse with them. Try delivering stories in various ways to observe which ones connect with your audience the most. Consider rephrasing some of it. The order should be somewhat varied. Choose your least favorite topic to discuss and consider how to make it more engaging.
After a presentation, get feedback on what could be done better. They will simply respond that things went well if you inquire as to how it went. Ask the audience, “What are three ways that presentation could be improved?”
You are absolutely right, the context of the story is a crucial factor to consider when it comes to storytelling. Different stories may require different styles and approaches depending on the audience, the purpose of the story, the medium used to deliver the story, and many other factors.
For example, telling a bedtime story to a child may require a different tone and pace than telling a story in a business setting. Telling a story in a video format may require different visual storytelling techniques compared to a written format.
In general, it’s important to keep the context of the story in mind when deciding on the style of storytelling. The key is to tailor the style and approach to the specific context and audience to make the story as engaging and effective as possible.