As a young kid, I developed a very vivid imagination. This led to the ability to concoct some big stories. Of course, at 5 years old my sphere of knowledge was limited so I made up details to make the stories better. As I became a young adult and learned more about the world, I grew into a storyteller. I learned through trial and error how to paint a picture for my family, friends and co-workers and guide them on a journey. There for a while, I began to think I could convince anyone of anything. Eventually I learned to use my superpowers for good and not evil.
So, there you go, I took you on a journey. At the end, I hope you smiled. Storytelling comes easy to me but for others it’s a skill that must be practiced and honed. Every day many things happen in our lives that provide details we can use to build our stories. You might need to write some of them down and think about how they could relate to other situations to start building up stories to pull from. Storytelling should be a combination of the information you are relaying, your own personal experiences and reaching your audience. Your objective is to help your audience see the picture you are painting for them. Keep in mind what the listener needs from the story and guide them along to the conclusion.
Of course, the real trick is to be able to quickly and concisely pick a relatable experience and create a story. The only way to learn this skill is through trial and error. Start with your friends and family and grow your skill. At first, you might just “do it in your head”. As a conversation is going on, think of an experience and create a story. As you start telling yourself, yeah, that’s a good one, then start to share them. Don’t expect that you’ll be successful every time. You’ll certainly have those moments when someone says “what does that have to do with this?”, or as I like to say “what does that have to do with the price of butter?”. It’s a learned skill that just takes time to hone.
[VIDEO] Storytelling for Project Managers
If you are a successful project manager, then you are very likely a natural born leader and influencer. As such, you already use your abilities to lead teams of people to a like conclusion. In your day to day life, you probably already use some form of storytelling to educate and guide those in your circle of influence. For example, if a client is asking for a change on a project the day of launch, you might say something like “I totally agree that we wanted to have the receipts print in color however holding up the launch now because they are only in black ink would be like not getting on an airplane flight because your seat was changed. I was bumped once from Business-Class to Coach on an international flight. I really wanted that better seat but I still got to attend the conference in London and on the way back, I got a First-Class seat!”.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti is a Project Management Consultant with over 15 years of experience managing complex website projects. She works with clients in many industries including software development, healthcare and professional organizations. Learn more about Patti on LinkedIn.