Storytelling at work

Photo by dix sept on Unsplash

If you’d like to improve your presentations at work, take leaders on a journey towards change or creating a high-impact business case, here’s an article about storytelling that might help:

After I posted yesterday, I searched online for uses for storytelling at work and found Michael Beale’s article on LinkedIn.

Here are some things that were new or noteworthy to me:

Let leaders draw their own conclusions

When presenting it’s tempting to use a great analogy and then explain the meaning in case people missed it, or to try to reinforce the point with a concise, plain English summary.

Beale argues that this stops the audience from thinking, from remaining with their emotions and from drawing their own conclusions.

It’s something I’ve never considered.

It’s like the end of the film Inception, where the main character rejoins his family, and we see the spinning top that doesn’t stop spinning. Is he still inside a dream or not? We debate it, draw our own conclusions, imagine a variety of endings to the story.

If the top falls, we’re robbed of that mystery.

Which would you prefer?

Use a story to challenge deeply held beliefs

If you can present an argument and have people think in the moment ‘what would I do in that situation’? you provide a safe space for experimenting with alternative view points.

I like a similar approach, which is to pose a question at the start of a presentation. This helps capture people’s attention, and frames the rest of the talk for the audience, as they ponder the answer and wait to hear what you have to say.

Use story telling to present a business case

Beale’s point in the article is that you should use tried and tested frameworks, but he also describes this classic example, SOARA for business cases:

S: Situation and problem, O: Objectives, A: Actions, R: Results and Implications, AS: And So (Results over time.)

No doubt embedded within many corporate and consulting presentation frameworks, but a useful reminder of the basics, not only for your next work presentation, but also when you want to pitch buying a new car, extending your home or taking a 3 month sabbatical through the summer to your partner!

I found this article valuable and will put some of these ideas into practice when I next present.

Let me know if you have any suggestions to add. Pop a comment in the box!

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