Every successful learning and development leader should be prepared to deliver three basic kinds of key stories.
1. The “Who Am I” Story
Inside your organization, most people probably already know who you are, but how well do they know who you are? Stories that provide insights into your values and beliefs give your colleagues an opportunity to understand you better and are an essential factor in creating trust. When talking to potential clients or groups of strangers, your “Who Am I” story is even more important.
Warning: Make sure this story is in the context of your listeners and your topic; they probably don’t to hear a list of your achievements.
2. The “Vision” Story
It’s always a challenge, but the vision story separates the good from the great. You need to work on this story if you are hoping to rise to the top of your profession. The ability to create powerful and lasting impressions in the minds of your listeners is one of the most important attributes of a leader. Start working on your vision stories right away. Keep a journal, and experiment with ways of describing your objectives and your goals that will connect strongly with your listeners. Stories that involve your listeners and use specific examples of people they can identify with and that they can see themselves in will fire up their imaginations and inspire action.
Great speeches should be compiled from your works in progress. Best of all, your familiarity with them means you will deliver them with a commanding presence.
3. The “Teaching” Story
In order to teach new skills successfully, you must begin by providing learners with logical reasons to learn them. Ideally, you want people to become self-motivated, so you must appeal to them at an emotional level as well. “Teaching” stories are powerful motivators. When you tell stories about the benefits of using the skills, as well as the consequences of not having them, your listeners see and feel themselves in your stories and will be motivated in a uniquely personal way.
These are the key stories; there are others. For example, “values” stories about other peoples’ selfless contributions are far better than lists of logical reasons why people should contribute to an organization. You often know your people’s concerns at any given time. To be able to acknowledge them in the context of an “acknowledgement story” can be powerful. People will be impressed that you seem to know what they are thinking and what they’re worried about, which will strengthen your relationships. Gain the trust of your listeners by first telling them the “what do I want” story of what you hope for as a result of this communication.
The First Steps to Mastering Stories
Start modestly; an anecdote that illustrates one of your points can be very helpful to your listeners – and it’s just a wee story. Each time you speak, try to use more anecdotes, and you will quickly become adept at using a narrative format.
Start the first drafts of your three key stories right away. Remember, only tell stories that you like; then, at least one person in the room will enjoy them.