By Cool Person, Ecology Action Rockstar
The mask of rigid professionalism is perhaps the biggest challenge. There’s a collective belief that somehow we should leave our humanity at the door when we enter the workplace, that there’s no place for emotion since decisions are made rationally and logically. People avoid taking risks, holding fast to approved text, quoting key facts, and avoiding any unnecessary detail. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the results: the bullet-point trains or tedious information dumps, with facts and figures endlessly churned out to no apparent purpose. We all collude with it, because next week we know that it might be us presenting them. I worked with one organization that insisted all of its executives use the same pool of slides for presentations to ensure that everyone sent out the same message. The result was that no one sent out any message since they weren’t genuinely connected to their story.
How does telling a story help? Structure provides both security and a sense of purpose for you and the audience. We have a story reflex; any whiff of story and our ears prick up and we want to know what happens next. It provokes active thinking in you and your audience and so it feels shared, like a dialogue rather than a monologue, even if you’re doing most of the talking. A story allows everyone to relate personally to the ideas and content, so there is a chance to connect emotionally, which is what helps to make it memorable—and is essential if it is to be acted upon.