Stories - they deliver your message

I received a powerful advice yesterday that's likely going to change how I communicate. I was putting together a product roadmap deck for an exec review meeting. The deck was organized by initiatives and features, with slides that had text descriptions and mocks. It was pretty dry and soulless.

My manager suggested framing it as a customer journey and making it more concrete. 

My UX partner and I took the advice and changed the deck to frame it as a story of a user. We gave the user a name, a photo, and shared imagery and details about the user's life and goals. We added a realistic journey of the user's day-to-day and weaved in natural interactions with the product and new features. We included how the user would come across a feature, how they'd react and how they'd feel. In between the story lines, we added discussion sections to dive into the functionality and business details of the product features. 

The deck turned out remarkably better - it was much more engaging, clear, empathetic and inspiring. We also got a better understanding of the user, had product discussions and refined our features in the process. 

Another technique is to start your presentation with a memorable story that delivers core message, before you share details. That will energize / engage the audience and make it easier for them to follow the details. 

I have seen presentations where the stories can get tacky, unrealistic, confusing or pointless. But I think that's a strike against the presenter rather than the method. Story telling is an art that takes practice to master. It takes time and effort to craft good stories to deliver your message. 

Ultimately, the goals of all communication are to convey the core message, inspire, and achieve an outcome. Stories are great at that. There's no going back when you experience the power of communicating with stories. 

"Those who tell the stories rule society." - Plato