Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Talking to the Board of Directors

John Seely Brown runs an excellent web site. There you will find a very thought provoking interview in which he discusses the role of storytelling in business. This can be especially important to CTOs who have a tendency to speak in the form of facts, figures, and experiments. When dealing with most people, it is more powerful to present information as a story that they can remember and resonate with.

Specifically, Brown gives the following advice for communicating with the Board of Directors.

"What I find so interesting is talking to boards of directors. You've got 30 seconds to capture their attention and three minutes to make your point. You've got to capture their attention and make your point in a way that it sticks with them throughout the rest of the meeting. You want to condition the conversation that unfolds at the board meeting in terms of your story. If you just plunk a fact down, or an assertion, it will get swept away. So the trick is, first of all, how can you capture the audience's attention and, second, how do you communicate something that will have a life of its own throughout the duration of, at least, the rest of the board meeting, and hopefully later on? How can your story become a scaffolding for their discussion, providing context to their content? I want to see whole points-of-view shifting though my stories."

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