What do jobs in Virtual Reality have to do with a giant octopus?
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve always been an avid collector of comic books. I love a good story, and the comics never seemed to bore me. There is something so crisp about the characters. It is hard not to get lost in the fantasy of secret worlds, the dichotomy of heroes and villains and the tales of friends and foes. The books encapsulate everything about who we are and who we wish we were all rolled into one. My experience with comic books is extensive, and it has come to inform how I think about storytelling with both employees at Marxent and with our customers.
Storytelling isn’t just for comic book artists
Every time you call a meeting or get in front of a client and every time you make a presentation, you are telling a story. It doesn’t always feel that way, but trust me on this — it’s happening. You’re spinning a tale. If you start to think of your interactions in this way, you’ll realize that it makes sense to structure your thoughts and name your story so that everyone in the room can track what you’re talking about. Not only does this keep you from losing track of your storyline by getting lost in details or off-tracked entirely, but it ensures that you’ll clearly communicate whatever it is you set out to get across. So what does it mean to “name your story?” Aquaman knows.
Aquaman wasn’t the most popular hero, but he always told the best stories
So, a little comics trivia here. Aquaman first appeared in Adventure Comics in 1941. The son of an underwater explorer so famous that he couldn’t be named, Aquaman kept a low profile compared to Superman and Wonder Woman (in fact, it was 19 years before he appeared on a book cover), but he was always around offering inventive and memorable mini-stories.
“This is a story of how I tamed a giant octopus”
Aquaman was busy talking to fish, learning to breathe underwater, and saving the day but he still had time to deliver a convincing narrative. When he told a story, he told it straight. So when I think of how to tell a story or how to get a narrative back on track, I always think of Aquaman and how he named his stories.
What’s your “giant octopus?”
Often during meetings, I suddenly find myself wondering, “What is the name of this story?” Either the conversation has lost direction, I’m unclear of what the purpose is or what action needs to be taken. This is ok! It’s easy to get lost in a tangle of details. But rambling on doesn’t help the situation. Here’s what you can do about it.
1. Name your story before you start talking
Before you enter a meeting, do yourself and your audience a favor. Spend a few minutes thinking about what your “giant octopus” is and naming your story. I guarantee that using this technique will help you to structure the conversation in such a way that keeps your audience engaged and your meeting productive.
2. Take a moment to pause when things start to go off-story
If you find yourself or someone else in a meeting rambling, take a moment to pause and find the name of the story. No one will fault you for taking the time to realign the story. In fact, we might just put you on the cover of a comic book as our new hero.
One of the hardest things about communicating effectively is taking the time to be thoughtful in your communications. Naming your story, planning your story and sticking to it can help everyone get more out of interactions. It can be hard to do this alone, but if everyone uses this technique to coach each other, you’ll be surprised at how good it feels and how it helps us all to work more effectively together. Just ask Aquaman.
Read More: The Best Aquaman Stories by Decade.