The Heart of the Story

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Administrative professionals can utilize storytelling to convey a message or persuade individuals explains Kemetia Foley

No one tells stories like my brother, Wm T. Foley, III, tells stories. He’s very tall and has a deep laugh and the very best sly grin! He can command the attention of an entire room. When he starts telling a story, you can see the rest of the room fall quiet and watch as people move closer in to hear what he is saying. What’s most fun for me is months later, listening to one of my nieces telling the story – about him telling the story.

Seriously, no one comes close to brother Bill’s storytelling.

Know the purpose                                                             

Stories are meant to convey information, either shared in verbal, audio, or in a written format. In business, stories are mostly (but not always), conveyed for the purpose of persuasion. As an example, administrative professionals may want to convince their supervisor of a need for a new laptop, or need assistance from a customer service representative at a sold-out hotel.

It’s become kind of trendy to use the word storyteller, but when telling your story correctly, you never have to say the words ‘Story’ or ‘Storyteller’. The listener will absolutely discern the difference between being sold a bill of goods or the genuine sharing of information.

Storytelling techniques and tools

It comes down to a simple approach of “What am I trying to convey?”, followed by “What in the story impacts them” and “What is their preferred method of receiving information?”.  When evaluating how best to deliver your story, keep in mind: timing and time allotted; audience; the tool the majority of your audience demographic prefers; language barriers.

There are a multitude of methodologies for delivering a story.

Example: Conveying the need for a new photocopier

Provide an example of a recent incident in which the malfunctioning of the copier led to a delay in a document delivery. Describe the importance of the document, the condition of the document you’re trying to print, how long it took to do so, and any other of your concerns, why the delay should matter to your boss (time is money).

Solutions

Face to Face

Assistant: Larry, here is the final global report. I know you are waiting to take it to the senior management team meeting. It took 30 minutes to obtain a quality copy that printed the company location chart clearly and cleanly. It seems the color printer has reached its volume-shelf life because service has been out here a half-dozen times to repair and adjust the printer toner distribution heads, and we’ve gone through reams of paper and a few expensive ink cartridges. I’ll research our printer options after speaking with IT, and of course, add this to the discussion list for our one-on-one meeting next week.

This story takes less than one minute to deliver verbally.

Visual: Infographic

This story could be created visually as an infographic in which the number of reports you create per year, average number of pages, age of the printer, number of ink cartridges used annually, are listed by month, with the number of times documents have to be reprinted.  Average time and cost by hourly wage spent per document reprint, due to the printer not correctly printing color images, could also be included.

Visual: Snapchat

Take pictures and add text for each step of the report printing process.

As you see, there are many ways administrative professionals can utilize storytelling to convey a message or persuade individuals. Understanding how best to use these storytelling techniques in the business environment is a vital skill for all to master.

 

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About Author

Kemetia MK Foley is a humorist, storyteller, writer, and trainer. She is fierce, funny and phenomenal – energetically delivering outstanding professional development courses since 2007. Kemetia has written, developed, and taught several sections of the Administrative Assistant certificate course for Northern Virginia Community College Workforce Development Division, presented more than 100 training sessions, and traveled internationally providing thoughtful perspectives and approaches to customer service, storytelling, and marketing. Students and delegates frequently comment how much they love her genuine and humorous teaching approach, sharing stories from her own experiences in the workplace. If you are interested in Kemetia training your assistants or speaking at your event, either virtually or in person, please email [email protected]

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