Anne Lamott is known as a writer on spiritual topics, but her book, “Bird By Bird” is one of the best books on writing I’ve read. In her latest book, “Almost Everything”, she talks about teaching a writing class. She says that her students knew that they got to read the stories they woite together and make them better. Writers groups use the same method: they listen to each other’s work and then offer suggestions for improvement.
What if we did the same in our meetings and organizations? Instead of just asking for a “report” or “update,” we asked, “What’s your story?”
Many meetings are terminally boring. They don’t engage participants. By using a storytelling format, you can get people to listen and then solicit ideas on how to improve the story.
Here’s what to include:
- the characters, who they are, their motivations
- the backstory: any information needed to fully understand the current narrative
- the obstacle or the opportunity: what you are trying to avoid, overcome or achieve?
- the moral: what you want listeners to take away or do
Instead of simply making a report, begin by saying, “I’ve got a story for you…”
To tell effective stories and make organizational narratives effective, we need to shift our thinking from merely “what happened,” to why, how, how and the implications. Thinking in stories enables you to add details and richness that “thinking in reports” doesn’t.
What great story do you plan to tell at your next meeting?
Mark Sanborn is listed by globalgurus.net as the #5 leadership expert in the world today. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com