Taking Your Stage Blog  
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1 items categorized "Storytelling"

04/03/2014

Use this Communication Technique to Change the Dynamic of Your Weekly Meetings

It was a rainy Sunday night at home.  I was mentally walking through my priorities and schedule for the next day and was excited about a workshop I was developing.  Then I opened my Outlook calendar and cringed.  I had forgotten that Monday morning was our weekly staff meeting. That's when I knew we had a problem: I didn't even want to attend my own staff meeting.

Dull, Uninspiring

Our staff meetings had become dull.  We had gotten into the rut of discussing priorities and agendas and news and policies and problems for the week.  My first thought was do we even need this meeting?  Yes, we did.  It is the one required meeting and important information is conveyed back and forth.  Certainly necessary, but not exactly an inspiring experience.

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A Change Needed

I thought about what we could change and it didn't take long before the answer jumped out at me.  It was a technique that we teach in our events and workshops and that we had already employed in our sales meetings: telling stories!  For some reason we had accepted the notion of what a weekly staff meeting was "supposed to be" - dull, boring, and necessary - and had not adopted our own preaching to communicate with each other more effectively.

What Types of Stories?

In our sales meetings with prospective clients (partners), we love to tell stories to convey the impact and transformation on individual people that we see in our actor-based training workshops.  It's powerful because they are personal stories and we are passionate about them.  The question became: how could I incorporate stories effectively in our weekly staff meeting?

I came up with four different messages I would want to convey in a meeting and four different types of stories to deliver those messages:

    1. Inspire them to achieve our vision and big audacious goal.

I'll tell stories of other teams or organizations that achieved something like our team wants to achieve.

    2. Convey a different future

I'll tell stories that describe a different future (such as how the customer experience would be in this new future).

    3. Learn from what has happened this past week

I'll tell stories of something that happened this week (such as to a team member or a customer).

    4. Ingrain the values I want to have on the team.

I'll tell stories of past teams that exemplify the values that I want or do not want this team to exemplify.

Get Their Help

The beauty is that you don't need to tell all the stories yourself.  Ask your team members to be prepared to share stories instead of simply conveying facts and figures. For example, ask them to tell stories of what happened with a customer that past week; or a story about another team or organization that they discovered; or ask them to tell stories of past teams with which they have been involved that demonstrated positive (and negative) values important to them.

Story Elements

Whatever story you (or they) tell, be sure to keep it short and and include the following four elements to make it compelling:

  • Include a character (tell it from the perspective of an individual person)
  • That experienced a series of obstacles
  • Building up to a climax (they changed and broke through the obstacles)
  • Which results in a different outcome

Your Action Steps

1.  Come up with a short, concise story.

2.  Open up your next weekly staff meeting with the story.

3.  Share with me what you learned.

It may not feel right the first time.  Ask for feedback on your storytelling skill, refine your delivery, and keep trying until you get the results you want.  No communication skill is perfect the first time we use it.

I can tell the difference in the meeting dynamic right away.  Let's stop cringing when we see we have a staff meeting the next day and turn it into something that everyone looks forward to as a compelling, relevant, and practical meeting.

And to really develop this skill (whether for meetings or sales or implementing change or whatever scenario), check out our upcoming storytelling workshop!