Leaders Storyize

If you’re confused by the new word in the title (storyize), there’s a reason – I made it up. Actually, it turns out that others have used this word, but it popped into my mind during a recent training session when we were talking about the importance of stories in seeking to educate and influence. This concept is so critical in all forms of leadership, whether it be sales, managing others, mentoring or training.

What is storyizing? It’s the process of transforming information into a story with context, message and impact. Whether or not it’s an actual story, it involves sharing information in a way that engages the listener and helps them connect to the message and to you as the storyteller.

One important element of storyizing is where you start the process. Too often we start with only the information and then just hope that the information we share will be heard and that the listener will be influenced. However, this communication usually looks and sounds like information that has been awkwardly jammed into a story format. The more effective strategy is to start with your intended message and then to develop stories that allow for personal connection with the listener and help the listener to connect with the message. The information is only used to seed the stories – thus, storyizing our information.

Storyizing is particularly important when you are speaking or making a presentation. When it comes to any form of presenting, telling stories (and storyizing your information) is the best way to connect, build trust, engage, educate and influence.

Here are just a few examples of storyizing information for more effect and impact:

  • Information: I’ve worked at this company for 25 years and in construction for over 30 years, and I like working on construction projects. My grandfather taught me to build things.
    • Storyized: I’ve been building things since I started working with my grandfather in his woodshop when I was 10 years old. Over the past 30 years I’ve done everything on a construction project, from hauling scrap, moving material, hammering nails, pouring drywall, to finished carpentry. I know how to build things and I love it. That’s why I’ve been with this company for 25 years.
  • Information: I came to Cleveland to work 15 years ago . We were living out of town, but we decided to move back after my sister-in-law’s heart attack. Family is important to me.
    • Storyized: Fifteen years ago my wife and I were living out of town, but that all changed with one phone call. When my wife told me her sister had just had a heart attack, I knew before I hung up the phone that we would be moving back to Cleveland. That’s what family is to me.
  • Information: I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain after watching the movie The Way in a hotel in Raleigh, NC. Watching the movie was emotional for me, and I knew that I had to travel to the Camino.
    • Storyized: After a long week of working in Raleigh, NC, I was looking forward to sleeping in on a Saturday morning. And then I woke up at 3:00 AM. I tried for three hours to get back to sleep, but to no avail. I gave up at 6:03 AM and turned on the television, where a movie was starting. That movie turned out to be The Way, which is about the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain. Many times during the movie I just started crying, and after about the third time I knew that I had to walk the Camino. I had been called.

Notice how the information comes to life when it is storyized, and this is true no matter what the topic or context.

Think about this way – at its best, information informs, but stories hold the unique power to educate, inspire, engage and influence. Why settle for sharing only information when you always have the opportunity to storyize your information for so much more impact? This is what leaders do and create – because leaders storyize!

Speak Your Mind