Unleashing the full capacity of your people

Getting Clear – Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

Everyone loves a good story. We’re hardwired for them! Think back to your childhood and those long summer nights, good stories could do lots of things—and they still can! Yet few of us are trained in storytelling. And this becomes a real issue when we try to share our story and vision with others. But when it’s done right, the upside is tremendous. Therefore, it’s important to be clear on your views and be able to articulate a clear values and vision statement—especially when it comes to organizational change. We recommend having a 30-second and 2-minute version. Think a refined, visual and precise elevator pitch that helps your co-workers better understand where you’re going, why you are heading there and what it will do for them. One way to get (better) started in articulating such values and vision is to utilize the “And, But and Therefore” or ABT storytelling framework.

People are storytellers and are hardwired for stories. This is something that become clear to Randy Olson, a Marine Scientist turned filmmaker. He realized that scientific results and data didn’t have enough power to truly communicate his research and/or move an audience to action. The main concept of the ABT method is that information becomes much more compelling when there are connections drawn between different pieces of information, which build tension (and interest) and are ultimately resolved. This method is much more engaging than simply listing data and facts or making statements. Below is a brief explanation of how it works:

[This is true and observable] AND [this is true and observable OR this data exists], BUT [problem statement], THEREFORE [this is how we are addressing the problem].

  • And allows you to hit two main points. Focus on a relevant fact or focus on an aspect of your topic that is new and interesting to your audience.
  • But introduces conflict! This is the heart of narrative storytelling. We transition away from the world as we knew into the reason why this research or change is necessary.
  • Therefore is a synthesis word that ties your goals together and promises to deliver a “resolution” to your audience. By incorporating a resolving statement, you can generate a connection between your work and your audience.

But before you can tell the story, you must work through a few questions. Stay tuned next week to learn what you can do to ensure you’re the “right” story and how to tell it!

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