There is one small thing that will make all your meetings, training sessions and presentations easier and more engaging. Most good team facilitators and leaders, no matter what industry they work in, will do this already, they just may not recognise it.
What is this secret trick?
It’s simple, tell a story.
It doesn’t have to be involved, long or narratively complex. It can be as simple as sharing something from your day, or a quick insight from a past project. This is where an Anecdote Library comes in.
If you already have an Anecdote Library you can dip into it to pull out a favourite story. Or you could start your Anecdote Library today by thinking ahead about what story you could tell – why is your voice hoarse on the call? Do you have a previous experience which is related to this meeting? Did something interesting happen on your morning run?
It doesn’t really matter what the story is, because what you are doing is reaching out to your team with a human connection. Giving them a peak behind the curtain to see you as a person not just a colleague.
This is so important when we are all dialling in to meetings from home. By sharing your tiny personal story you’re encouraging others to share theirs, and by doing this, they will move closer together. It’s the camp fire response; human beings are hard wired to listen to a story and then share one of their own. It’s how we learned about the best places to hunt, where to avoid predators and what happened back at camp while we were gone.
This is doubly true where you are trying to pull together a disparate and distributed team.
I have managed teams (and teams of teams) that spanned three continents. By something as simple as regularly asking them how their day was, or what the weather was like where they were, I got people to tell stories and give the rest of the team a glimpse into their world. In a surprisingly short period of time they were all happy talking to one another and as a result working together much more smoothly.
That particular globe-spanning team increased their productivity by an order of magnitude in the space of 12 weeks, and while that wasn’t just down to sharing anecdotes, that was the first crucial step to becoming a team, having each other’s backs and working well together.
Sharing stories turns our remote colleagues from pixels on a screen into real people.