6 May 2019
I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by Microsoft's Miri Rodriguez on storytelling. As some of you will know I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and experience, so it was interesting to hear how Microsoft are using this in their business. Here are my takeaways.
Storytelling has to affect you in some way, or why will you care? I guess this moves us from the traditional "What's in it for them?" question to "Why should they care?" A subtle difference perhaps but critical. When you are storytelling, what do you want your stories to be - motivating, exciting, sad? There is no wrong way to tell a story as long as you are telling stories for the audience not talking at them.
We often think of stories as written words - blogs, whitepapers etc - but these can also be videos, pictures or whatever medium suits you as the storyteller and the audience you want to affect. The story you tell must be compelling for your audience, so have fun with it, try new things - you might surprise yourself.
One of the most interesting parts of Miri's presentation was her honesty. At Microsoft the tenet is to tell stories of achievement as honestly and empathetically as possible. For me, this is absolutely critical; I will regularly share experiences and stories of the good and the bad, as these provide us a shared experience that help generate trust and encourage colleagues and clients to be honest with you - for me that's how you grow strong partnerships.
As IT professionals we often get excited and focus on the "What" and the "How" but the value of storytelling relies on the "Why". Which reminded me of an excellent infographic by the very talented Lynne Cazaly. Lynne is a master of these, and this one came from Simon Sinek's TED talk (also well worth a watch).
Storytelling is a soft skill that some will have naturally, and some will need to work on. The important thing is that we start. Very little in life is perfect on day one. We try things, we find what works and we refine, improve - it's how the human race has evolved and we're not too bad!
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