As a CXO, you should get your team to use narrative storytelling techniques to enhance your leadership reviews.
But what is the advantage of doing that?
Is it about having:
- Aesthetic looking slides that are pleasing to the eye?
- Confident delivery that is comforting to hear?
- The use of fancy charts or a complicated piece of analysis that looks 'impressive'?
It's none of the above.
Recently I was undertaking an online data-storytelling session for the Finance team leaders at a major manufacturing company.
The company's CFO, a senior industry leader, is a big believer in the power of storytelling techniques. On my request, he was kind enough to drop into the session and address all the participants.
He started with a disarming personal story. It was an incident from his younger days when he himself struggled to communicate his findings clearly... and how he realised the importance of this skill. It immediately warmed everyone to the leader and made him seem human.
He then made a very interesting point about how these tools actually help him in his work. He mentioned earlier cohorts that had undergone the same data storytelling course (including himself as a participant in the first cohort) and how it made a significant difference:
"People who applied (the learnings) to their day-to-day presentations, I found that I could do that interaction in 30 minutes as opposed to one hour. Because the whole story was on one slide. It was so clear, that I found it (to be) a big productivity enhancer for the team.
A and B from the Treasury team were amongst the first who adopted the practices. Their reviews would earlier take 2-3 hours... (later) we could complete it in about an hour... because the communication was so clear. I did not have to ask unnecessary questions, and most of the time the deck was shared as a pre-read and there was no problem. And since then I have become a fan of this style of storytelling and my endeavour is that most people in finance should go through this learning.
I've realised that while we are very good with numbers, putting an excel table with 7 columns, 20 rows on a PowerPoint, is not telling a story. That is only data. And data doesn't talk. You have to make data talk. And this is one very key skill that will help to make data talk."
So, the purpose of applying storytelling techniques is not:
- Wow moments
(Although those are nice to have)
The purpose is to drive clarity and productivity.
Better storytelling leads to better discussions leads to better decisions and better business outcomes. With lesser time being spent!