Unfolding plans 50 – Stories are the best way to get information to stick

A funny thing happened to me on the way into the office.  I was listening to the radio and an advert came on for a well-known broadcasting, media and content company.  The gist was that they said that they were offering an excellent service to their customers as ninety per cent of their service calls were fixed within the service level agreed time.  So if something went wrong, nine out of ten times they would fix it when they said they would.  It sounded good and was a convincing story.

It got me thinking though.  Today was one of those days when we presented an update to the service, what’s happening, where we are going and that sort of thing.  One of the items that was raised was our service desk performance.  Overall around ninety five per cent of our calls are closed within the agreed service levels.  So if the well-known organisation is providing an excellent service then where does that leave us?  Better!

I could have stood up and said look, these are our performance figures.  They sound good but without any context how would we know.  At least we have context and so I told the story about how I was listening to the radio on the way in and heard how good this organisation was and how our performance was better.  The story went down well and I could sense how it had resonated with the audience.  Using the story grounded what I was saying in reality.  People could imagine me in my car, driving into work just as they would have done while listening to the radio.

Information without context is just that.  Stories are the best way to get information to stick.  Don’t do presentations, tell a story.

Which reminds me that I was up at an Institute of Customer Service event at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena the other day.  It is a spectacular place to visit, an old quarry converted into a series of climbing walls suitable for all ages and abilities.  Shirley from the Institute had asked me if I would speak following a similar event in Durham last year.  I do a lot of presenting, sometimes it seems that that is all I do.  I use it as a way to get my messages across to my team, our customers and partners.  The event was around co-creation and collaboration.  My pitch was on supporting services across the council by building a culture of collaboration.

I shared a platform with Graeme from Edinburgh Leisure, who managed the climbing arena and Greg from the New Charter Housing Group.  I told the story of how it was the Psion turned me onto technology and how I felt fantastic when I progressed to an iPAQ.  I could do email on the hoof

I went on to tell how Peter had told me how our oldest service desk call was closed while I was up at Tanfield.  If I recall it was for the removal of some equipment and how I would never have known this if I had not been sitting in front of him at the time.  I was up at Tanfield and decided to sit in amongst Paul’s team and crack on with some work.  They had been struggling with some performance issues with a particular piece of software and I was able to learn so much more about the problem than if I had been elsewhere.  The point was that sitting somewhere else can give you a completely different perspective and I guess that this is a fundamental aspect of collaboration, colocation (either physically or virtually) and co-creation.

The stories went down well.  I got a few laughs and made a few new friends.  I left my slide clicker behind though.

2 thoughts on “Unfolding plans 50 – Stories are the best way to get information to stick

  1. Using stories helps so much. My 26 years as a teacher were much improved by telling stories, forming a bond. Students remembered more, too, when there was a story on which to attach the information

    1. Thanks for your comment (and your like). I remember all the stories from my childhood and so I’ve stopped giving presentations and focus on how I can tell it as a tale.

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