The art of storytelling you should master as a product manager
A very important skill needed for being a product manager is to be a good storyteller. Storytelling is an art of course but
fortunately, it’s an art that can be learned and mastered. Over time with some experience, you will become a good storyteller,
after all, you are selling your product and your work all the time to different audiences. Sometimes, you are narrating the story of
your product to your stakeholder or executives and sometimes you are conveying the value proposition to your development
team and getting them onboard. I as a person is direct and to the point, so it took a lot of
research, googling, listening to talks and learning from mistakes for me to learn the importance of storytelling and combining a
method that works for me to be the good storyteller. Hence, I would like to put down some things I learned about storytelling
overtime from my experience.
Why storytelling is so important?
Human brain these days have a really short span of attention to things. There is a lot of information available all around you, the
things that will grab your attention are the ones that are related to things you care about. If its too complicated to understand the
human brain will simply ignore the message and jump on. Story simplifies the concept, a good beginning, little built up to
captivate the attention and then the narration of the solution is way simpler to follow than to understand the solution with just
some facts, numbers or algorithms. A story will engage your audience and will stick with them making it easier for you to
pitch, sell or follow through with them.
How to build your story?
Techniques and guidelines to become a good storyteller.
There were times when I went into a stakeholder meeting with a new solution, feature or a new product with full preparation.
Presentation, facts, number, data, user feedback I thought I had it all and this would be easy to get them onboard. But no, the
fact is everyone has a solution that they think will work better and we ended up with tons of discussion wasting time and
diverting from the real agenda of the meeting. When I reflected back on my meeting I understood that I didn’t give them the full
picture. I didn’t build the story enough and made them understand that how much thinking and effort and market
research we have put in to get to this solution and why it fits with the overall vision of the company. I expected them to
understand and fit in the pieces together. I was wrong and hence I prepared a list which I even until now go through before any
presentation of my product. I call it “7 point checklist for my new story”.
Start with a theme or big picture: Always start with the overall objective and goal of the company, create a theme and
start with it. You might think that these are internal stakeholders and they might know this already but don’t leave it
out. Even if you are repeating yourself remind everyone in the room what the “big picture” is.
Talk about the user problem first: You might think that the stakeholders, executives or the developers are aware of the
problems we are trying to solve. Don’t let this assumption hold you back. Go ahead and define the user problem, explain it to
everyone in the room so they are on the same page of what we are trying to solve here.
Develop a plot: If you can create a scenario or explain a
situation or user behavior plot go ahead and do it. It is very
important that you can place an imagery in the mind of your
audience. It will help them to connect with the scenario, even
feel it if they can imagine it. As I have heard from some great
presenters “ it’s not about the product, it’s about how you make
Share the learnings: Once you have got the attention of your audience now is the time to feed them with some data, research,
findings and user feedback. At this point in time, they are ready to listen to you. Sharing knowledge now will increase their trust
and confidence in you.
Give a gist of all considered alternatives: As a solutionoriented team we have never considered just one solution based on some hunch, we have always considered multiple possibilities and tried it to gather some learnings. Share them with your
audience in nutshell. Let them know your rationale. This will help to get those audiences onboard who are by now thinking
about different possibilities to solve the user problem that you just planted in their head.
Reveal your solution: Now they are ready to listen to the solution you have worked upon. By this time you have
eliminated a lot of questions, gave them a better understanding and captivated their attention. Go ahead and talk about your
product and the new feature you were so excited to present. One important tip here is, instead of just talking about your solution
if you can provide the audience with some visual aid to describe it they will conceive the message easier.
Show impact: Like every story needs a good ending this is your story’s end. Show the impact your new product or feature
will create. Have clear goals and the timeframe mentioned to reach your goal.
At the end always give a gentle reminder of the ‘why’. Try not to define anything. Emphasis on learning and exploring new
possibilities as we go.
Author: Bindiya Thakkar