Congratulations! You’ve recently been promoted or newly hired and have inherited a new team to manage. Now what? A priority should be to ensure that all the members of your team are aligned on your vision, the work to be done, and the goals to be achieved. Why is alignment on these points so important? Because team alignment is critical to achieving your goals and ensuring everyone is happy with their role in that journey.
There are of course many challenges to getting alignment. There’s also an easy fix that may not seem obvious: Storytelling.
Read on to learn why great storytelling will help break down information silos in any workplace structure and ensure your team shares your vision, meets the goals you’ve targeted, is a trusted source of information, and has greater, more immediate influence on the decision-making in their work.
Use Storytelling to Help With Alignment — and More
Maybe alignment isn’t your most critical need. Perhaps you know what good communication looks like, and you simply want to bring the skills of your new team up to the level of those you’ve managed before. This can happen in any company, and it’s stressful if you’re a new manager seeking a smooth transition to take the reins and lead with trust and authority.
Maybe you’ve decided your fresh start as a new manager is a great opportunity to support your people to be more productive by cutting down the time spent in meetings that go nowhere or suffering through endless rounds of requests for revisions and clarifications — all because presentations or other forms of communication have been confusing, dull, or worst of all, have failed to get their desired outcomes.
Regardless, the goals of achieving alignment and supporting your people to be more productive and have a greater impact on the organization are certainly easier to define than accomplish. But there’s one step you can take that will make any of those goals more attainable and help you achieve them faster: Ensure that everyone on your team is able to communicate clearly and effectively. More specifically, give them the tools to be able to tell a compelling story to any audience, using any communication format.
Why will communication that centers on storytelling do the trick? Because gaining alignment within your team, improving collaboration with other teams, and making your people more efficient and productive — all of these goals require communication that guarantees your team’s ideas get heard and are acted on every time.
With Storytelling Skills Come Team — and Business — Success
Communication training that centers on building storytelling skills will help you align your team and make them more effective and efficient because it first and foremost saves everyone time by giving team members a structure and “common language” around which to organize their ideas. The result: You avoid rounds of needless revisions.
So, what skills and impacts of great storytelling make that possible? Let’s take a look.
Transforming Data Into Actionable Insights
We’ve all seen presentations filled with a bunch of data that simply make our eyes glaze over and lose the audience. One skill used to tell a compelling story is learning to wrap data into your story. This can transform data into valuable, actionable insights, making it easier for audiences to understand and remember your team’s key points.
Being Agile and Flexible With Presentations
What do you do when you find out mere minutes before a presentation that your time has been cut from 30 minutes to five? Or that your team is now presenting to an entire leadership team rather than only a few stakeholders? Using a proven structure for storytelling and applying a clear throughline each time gives your team a flexible approach for crafting and presenting communications. This enables any presenter to be nimble and able to meet changing needs in the moment.
Boosting Executive Presence
Imagine if all of your team members had “executive presence” — that aura of confidence, authority, and self-assuredness that defines many senior-level people. When your team members learn the skills of great storytelling, it boosts their executive presence and up-levels their confidence because they know they’re firmly in control of the information they present and able to pivot if necessary. They are clear on their main points, use a storytelling framework for navigating those points, and most importantly, deeply think about the needs of their audience.
Because great storytelling improves the flow of how information is presented, it boosts the quality of presentations so your team can engage audiences more easily. When they can do that, your team is much more likely to get their audiences to take the desired action or come away knowing the most critical information you wanted them to have. The result is that your team will be able to influence decisions and move the business forward faster.
Improving All Forms of Communication
The skills learned in business storytelling don’t only apply to presentations. They’re easily and immediately transferred to emails, one-pagers, video scripts, project plans, and more. Even short social media posts benefit from the skills needed to create a compelling story.
Why Storytelling Can Yield Benefits for Managers and Their Teams
Think about your favorite book or movie. It is undoubtedly built on a framework of four key components: setting, characters, conflict, and resolution. Think about the best presentation you’ve ever seen. It also most likely had a very clear theme running through it, and every piece of data supported that theme and moved the story along.
Apply a universal story structure
When your team applies this same framework to present their ideas, they can choreograph their insights, facts, and data so it all flows seamlessly and commands the attention of any audience. Why is that true? Because stories are the best way to contextualize information, make it memorable, and have it get the results we want.
Here’s a brief look at those four elements that combined, give your presenter and their audience a roadmap of where the story is going and where it’s been.
- Setting: This is a snapshot in time, a place, or a circumstance that immediately establishes the context for your message to get your audience grounded and engaged.
- Characters: Your characters are who — or what — is affected by the current situation. Characters can be customers, employees, or team members. They humanize your story.
- Conflict: Every story has a level of conflict. It provides the tension that gives your audience a reason to care — and to look forward to how it is resolved.
- Resolution: Having (hopefully) built up your audience’s emotions to prepare them to embrace your resolution, you offer your recommendation, product, or solution..
Leverage the power of The BIG Idea
Think about it. Every great story has one overarching, most-important lesson, moral, concept, or piece of information the author wants you to know. This is The BIG Idea — the one key message you want your audience to remember. It is the thread that runs through your entire presentation. Every fact or piece of data you include should be supporting and driving your BIG idea forward. Employing a BIG Idea also helps make you and your team more confident and nimble during presentations.
Wrap your data in the story
Contrary to what many people believe, it’s better to present less data and present it better than to bury your audience in slide after slide of mind-numbing charts, tables, and graphs. Compelling storytelling uses data to further your story, not be the story. Skillful use of data also includes putting callouts or focal points in graphs and charts, to easily draw the audience’s attention to the most important information.
Prepare to Align Your Team and Enhance Their Impact
Want to learn more about how to learn to use storytelling for communication that will help you better align your team, ensure greater collaboration and innovation, and help move the business forward faster? Contact The Presentation Company today.