One of the things that unites us all is a love of story. There is no faster way to engage others than through storytelling, and no better way to connect at a deeper level with those around you. The leaders that inspire me the most are those who tell their personal story and connect their work with a greater purpose.
I see storytelling as a powerful communication tool. It allows you to bring others with you as you introduce new ideas, advocate for change, or set direction. Stories frame the work we do, and facilitate alignment and understanding. They also inspire, encourage, and motivate.
In fall 2015 I presented my journey to service design at Adaptive Path's Service Experience Conference. With 171 hand-drawn slides, I illustrated the year-long journey of transforming from UX to service design. In this talk, I wanted to inspire those considering a career in service design to take the leap, and have courage to transform their careers. Watch the talk here.
Whether an individual conversation or a public presentation, creating first a sense of connection through narrative before diving into your agenda is a powerful strategy for building relationships and creating a sense of openness and compassion.
In a recent strategic roadmap workshop, I decided to open the session with a storytelling exerise. I knew that the group had a great deal of anxiety around the roadmap we were setting together for the organization. So before we started the workshop, I asked each of them to tell a story of a time when they had followed a map and it resulted in an unusual or surprising outcome. As we went around sharing stories, we grew closer as a team, understood eachother better, and connected before getting to the content. When we did dive into the agenda, the tone that was set in the storytelling exercise led to a more open, generative, collaborative worskhop.
Storytelling takes practice, and you have to seek out the moments and opportunities to tell stories, and the right stories to tell. Storytelling also takes a willingness to be vulnerable. I believe vulnerability shows strength, and being willing to share the personal stories that drive the passion and work you do is a powerful way to connect with others.