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4 Ways to Create a Powerful Story That Connect People to Their Work

By Mark Cruth
November 22, 2022

Leaders, it’s time to get storytelling!

You know the importance of having a strong team—but did you know that only 13% of teams are actually healthy according to Atlassian’s latest State of Teams Report? That’s because storytelling is often neglected in leadership.

But storytelling isn’t just about spinning tall tales around the campfire—it’s about creating powerful stories that your team can relate to emotionally and authentically. The READ acronym will help you compile compelling narratives:

  • Relatable: To make a great story you need it to be something the audience can see themselves as part of, but you can’t make it about them.
  • Emotional: As you think about the stories you tell, embrace passion and emotion as your friend…don’t shy away from them in your stories.
  • Authentic: A good story needs to be authentic, meaning that it doesn’t just share information, but covers a topic that you can tell is important to the storyteller.
  • Detailed: Adding details to your story is like putting frosting on a cake (who eats cake without the frosting?) – it might seem extra but it’s actually a necessary ingredient for your story

If storytelling isn’t your strong suit, try some exercises to get the creative juices flowing. Here are four exercises you can try today!

  • Future Press Release: Made famous by Amazon, this exercise involves imagining that it’s 5 years in the future and you’re announcing a major milestone that your team has just achieved. What would that press release say? This exercise forces you to think beyond the day-to-day grind and really envision what success looks like.
  • Being in the Future: This exercise is all about imagining what the future holds for your team. What will you have accomplished? How will users be talking about your product or service? This exercise helps to paint a picture of what success looks like and gives you something tangible to strive for.
  • Postcard from the Future: The goal of this exercise is to pretend you’re at some point in the future and you’ve just received a postcard from a customer or stakeholder talking about the impact of your project. In the space of a postcard, describe how that sender’s life has changed…what’s different and why?  This exercise really brings the future to life and makes it feel more real for your team.
  • Project Poster: The last exercise I want to share comes from the Atlassian Team Playbook and outlines the end state of a project. The project poster helps you to focus on a specific problem by describing what you know and defining what success looks like. Now that might seem boring, so I like to use the READ characteristics to spice it up when outlining the parts

It’s time for leadership to embrace storytelling and build strong teams! Start storytelling today, and watch your team become one of the 13%. Good luck!

About the Author

Mark Cruth

Mark Cruth is Atlassian’s resident Modern Work Expert. Focused on practice over theory, Mark spends his days coaching both Atlassian and customer teams on new ways of working, then sharing what he’s learned at events around the world. Joining Atlassian in 2019, Mark brings over a decade of experience experimenting with work and helping people, teams, and organizations transform at places like Boeing, Nordstrom, TD Ameritrade, and Rocket Mortgage.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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