PM Open Space
The first event of PM Open Space 2018 was held in HPE on 28th March. The HPE auditorium was packed with listeners. And Ameen Haque – to everyone’s delight, didn’t disappoint.
Good stories happen to those who can tell them.
(It was like what Thomas Jefferson said about hard work and luck! “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more lucky I get!”). And that’s how he started the topic about storytelling in Business. These are not the yarns that most people spun at school. These are stories that influence decision making. Stories that could make or break products. Stories that made legends from otherwise ordinary people.
Stories make what you say – memorable.
Imagine if the Pythagoras theorem was explained as a story. He did ask the audience how many people could explain the theorem (along with Archimedes and the Eureka moments). It was surprising to see so many people unsure. Well, you can’t blame them. From the time they passed out (quite literally) from school, who knows, someone may have changed the theory a bit!
Ameen talked about how he grew up in a small village in Gujarat and didn’t do what everyone else was doing – a medical or engineering degree. He described how he graduated in commerce and then got into the ad business. He loved reading stories as a kid. He described how he graduated from Amar Chitra Khata and Indrajal to Tinkle, Famous Five, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. And there were a few Mills and Boon – and the Mahabharata in between!
In the already attention-deficit world, stories can help you connect with your audiences and capture their attention. Everyone and his uncle seemed to be vying for that attention. How?
Stories help you influence without authority.
He talked about behavioural economics and how stories influence behaviour and thus decision making. Not just any decisions – but importantly – buying decisions. A couple of video clips were shown including one of the Apple Mac Book Air launch. He drew the attention of the audience to the “whoosh” sound that was produced when Steve Jobs pulled out the laptop from the large envelope. The sound was apparently faked to dramatise the launch. But did anyone notice? What part of the brain was being addressed in each situation? There’s the feeling side and the numbers side. Studies and have shown that the feeling side of the brain is more predominant. And stories appeal to the feelings part of the brain. And in the case of Apple, it really mattered.
There aren’t any second opportunities to first impressions
How do you get good at storytelling?
- You rehearse. Not in front of a mirror, where you are the only audience. But get 5 of your friends and see if you are pressing all the right buttons, or if you are pushing your luck!
- Don’t divulge too much detail. Create curiosity instead. Let the interested audience come back to you for detail.
- Never spin a story around yourself. There’s no ‘I’ in a story.
- Listen! To the said and the unsaid. It will help you understand your audience.
- Get to the common ground. Get your audience to nod in agreement. You have to understand their expectations before you can make anyone nod. (Not nod off!).
- Use the power of contrast between what is and what can be.
- Spend time on what is important. There are no second chances to make a great first impression.
- Build your vocabulary. It helps if you can articulate well.
- Have the right attitude. Vinod Kambli can tell you his sob story about what happens if you don’t.
So what are good stories?
Stories are Truth – Well Told
They have to be true. And they have to be well told. Because it’s about how you say what you say. Numbers and Facts need to be presented with a hook that the audience will latch on to quickly. Truth is the Content and the delivery of the truth is the well-told part.
The second edition of PM Open Space 2018 was held in Shell SBO, RMZ Ecoworld, Bellandur.
Stephen Townsend from PMI USA was the guest speaker. The topic was “Approaches for Being Agile Virtually”. Stephen Townsend is PMI’s Director for Network Programs. In this capacity, he leads special program initiatives, including development of a practice guide on agile methods. Stephen has over 30 years of experience in non-profit leadership and management.
This session was about exploring different ways that organizations are using technology, organizing workflow and supporting effective communication to enable virtual agile teams, incorporating good practices from the new Agile Practice Guide as well as academic research on leading practices.
The Shell IT overview was provided by Arun Padmanabhan, VP IT of Shell ITHB.
PM Community at Shell, led by Anand Lokhande, was instrumental in organizing this event in collaboration with PMI Bangalore Chapter. Around 115+ practitioners attended the event and benefited from the interesting talk.