Does Social Media Degrade Storytelling?

storytellingI recently signed up for the Harvard Business Review online and in print (I know online should suffice but I still love flipping pages!). I stumbled upon a short little opinion on storytelling boosting knowledge transfer in the May 2009 issue. Knowledge professionals have touted this for years that storytelling is the best way to make information memorable instead of reading the now endless tweets, blogs, articles, training guides and books available on a various topic.

But, then I thought, the whole purpose of social media is to enable that level of storytelling and sharing virtually. But, do we lose something in translation? There is no replacement for seeing a person deliver a story live with facial expressions and the ability to ask questions during or after the sharing session. Most would say to just videotape the person and slap the clip on YouTube. Hmmm….well, in a former life I did video production and I always saw that the story I got from the person off camera was better than on.

So, how do we enable good storytelling virtually? Here are some guidelines to enable better virtual storytelling:

  • Definitely provide guidance, training or even facilitate/interview people yourself to help them tell their story well
  • Encourage people to not just share facts but tell their “story” – how did you feel, how did the client or supplier feel, what as the mood like, describe the environment
  • Help them reveal the whole truth – chances are things did not go smoothly so be honest and share the good, bad and ugly
  • Enable readers to rate the stories – this is invaluable to determine which stories are the best to listen to
  • Create a calendar of stories to regularly publish and create an expectation
  • Set up sharing stories as a way to recognize great work and further develop professional skills

My greatest wish is to see true telepresence technology become reality. To me, that will be the ultimate for virtual storytelling. I will be able see (clearly) the person deliver their story and interact to ask questions without a chat feature in real-time, face-to-face. So, all we need is infrastructure, affordable solutions and adoption. Come one Cisco! Work your magic!

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