Information Technology (IT) professionals are tasked with communicating more frequently than ever before in today’s deeply connected world. Their essentialness spans from video meetings to virtual reality, data security to finding ways to boost employee productivity. But IT leaders have the added challenge of not overwhelming teams with jargon-laden speeches and articles. To boost their ability to connect with and influence their audience, these tech leaders should consider sharpening their storytelling skills.
Storytelling is a fantastic way to influence others and to create a personal connection. Stories create empathy and evoke emotions, and they are often easier to remember than facts and figures. They have the power to transform an audience’s behavior, beliefs and thoughts for the better.
However, many IT leaders struggle when it comes to this skill. For some, it comes naturally, while others find it hard to create stories that are relatable to their audience. If you are one of these leaders, here are some tips on how to improve your storytelling skills:
Reflect on your life to find universal moments worth sharing—When was the last time you felt desperate? When was the last time you gave someone hope? When was the last time you saw true positive impact? Who is someone who changed the direction of your life after only one meeting? Stories are all around every day; we often miss them because we’re in a hurry or think they must come from momentous events. They don’t have to. Look closer and think deeper. Examples of universal themes are “never lose hope,” “be brave” or “the little things can make the biggest difference.”
Focus on your audience’s needs—Before creating your story, it is essential to focus on your audience. What do they need? What will they get from listening to you? About what are they most concerned? By understanding your audience’s needs, you can better craft a story that resonates with them.
Ditch the data as much as you can—It’s hard for people to imagine large numbers and statistics. Try to create visuals representing the same information, and use that imagery with your data to drive home a point. Check out an example here at timestamp 1:55.
Embody your story; be real—“Authentic” has become quite the buzzword, but it’s for a good reason. No one wants to hear about how perfect things are in your life all the time. That isn’t real. Likewise, no one wants to hear about how terrible things are or how things never go well for you. That’s inaccurate as well. Have the courage to be yourself and embody the story you’re telling. This doesn’t mean try to become an actor overnight, but it does mean express some emotion. If something hurt, don’t hide it. If you were extremely excited about something, express it! Nothing is more boring than a flatline story with no feelings.
Tell stories that are relevant—There’s no point in sharing a story “just because,” especially at work. Define your motivation—your purpose and reason for telling a particular story to a specific audience.
Just because you’re focused on tech doesn’t mean you have to lose your sense of humanity when storytelling. If your goal is to build relationships, inspire teams or even launch a new product, use the uniqueness that is your life to supercharge your narratives. Don’t worry about being “interesting enough”—everyone has interesting attributes. Don’t feel compelled to be funny if it doesn’t feel right. Don’t even worry about hiding the introvert side of yourself if you identify as one (we’ve got a quick PDF resource and webinar to help with that if you’re interested). Be who you are, because who you are is enough. If you’d like more customized tips on how to be a better executive storyteller in IT, contact us today.