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The Principal's Story

Britt White

August 11, 2023
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Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.

Looking back on the past year, I am sure you are flooded with emotions that range from excitement, sadness, desperation, and elation.  A principal’s story especially in the last year characterizes triumphs, failures and a fortitude to move forward.  

Why it’s important

How often can you remember a story or the plot of a movie, but not the title of the book or movie? 

Back in the 80’s there was an orphan and food shortage problem in Africa.  The problem was staggering and appeared as if it was going to grow.  One of the solutions was to engage the American people, have them sponsor a child for only $1 a day.  If you remember this you probably also remember the advertisements of small, gaunt, children, looking desperately into the camera.  These commercials were set up to tell the stories of these starving and desperate children.  Stories that converted into millions of dollars in aid.

Did you know that after a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories and only 5% remember statistics?  Think of all the time you put into statistics when creating your winning presentation.  What they will most likely remember is not your numbers, and most likely not all 3 of your amazing points, but they will remember the story you told.  

How to tell a good story?

Most Principals have a plethora of stories to tell.  But how do you tell a good story and why should you want to?  We are passionate about what we do because we want what is best for our students.  To create change and inspire excellence you need to be able to tell your story. . 

A few pointers to keep in mind

  1. Keep it relevant
  2. Introduce it so they are ready.  “What you just said reminds me of when we….” or “This feels a lot like another customer we worked with a few years back he/she…….”
  3. Have a beginning, middle and end.  Rambling on about an experience is not telling a story.  Who are we talking about, why are we talking about them, what was their experience, and last how does this connect to our customer.  
  4. Try to create an emotional experience.  Excitement, joy, possibilities are great emotions to inspire people to move.  Human’s connect and remember feelings much longer than facts. 

Picking a story is equally as important as telling it.   

  1. Is it relevant

Is any story a good story? In any engagement before you know what the perfect story will be you first need to ask questions and listen.  What is important to your listener, time, quality, cost, timeline, a trusted resource?  

  1. Can you speak intelligently about the story

Maybe you cannot speak intelligently about the story, but you know it will help your client.  Then find the person who can tell the story.  The client will appreciate the extra effort, and feel confidence that you understand them.  

  1. Does it inspire action

Just telling stories doesn’t inspire action.  Think about how you close out the story.  Ask questions to confirm the story was relevant.  Then to inspire action you simply need to ask “Based on what you heard, do you think we could help you as well?”

Ask questions, listen to the answers, and tell the right story; Storytelling can be an easy way to give credibility, inspire action, and create a visual for anyone to have a clear picture of what you are able to provide.  In short, stories create interest and interest creates memories, and we want to be memorable.  

What does your 2022-2023 story look like?

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