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The art of the SharePoint story

I attended a great session today called "The Art of the SharePoint Story." I didn't know what to expect but I was intrigued by the title. The speaker, Robert McDowell, Microsoft VP, Information Worker, was very engaging and didn't run through a lot of slides. It turns out that the session's name was an apt description. Mr. McDowell was telling us a story about storytelling, and how important storytelling is to a successful implementation of SharePoint.

There can be a challenge to get companies to not only use a product they often already own (SharePoint) but to derive tangible value from it. Years ago companies bought software without worrying about business value, but that has changed. Business leaders, not IT, should be driving IT advancements. So rather than selling SharePoint as a product, learn its potential within the company and make that potential clear to the business leaders. Once the business leaders are on board they will push the technology. Get them on board with good storytelling!

Some tips for effective storytelling:

  • Develop an inventory of stories, and remember that stories get better with practice
  • The biggest assets for your story are real-life examples
  • Stories drive action, and how the story is told can be more important than the data that backs up the story (even though the folks in marketing might disagree!)

A great story has these qualities ("Success"):

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stickable
  • Sellable

A great storyteller has these qualities ("Character"):

  • Candor
  • Honesty
  • Authenticity
  • Role Model
  • Action Orientated
  • Credible
  • Trustworthy
  • Enthusiastic
  • Real

Finally, develop your own inventory of stories, and seek out opportunities to tell stories in written and oral form. Not everyone is a natural storyteller. Find a coach. Expose yourself to critical review, and put yourself in front of people you trust. Get some training, and practice and measure results. The more you're able to articulate what you do the more opportunities you will have!