The Skill You Must Have to Level Up as a PM

As a product manager, one of your primary jobs is to communicate the why behind many of the decisions that you’re making on the product front.

A wishy-washy “why” isn’t going to get people excited. But an appealing “why” will.

And a great way to create an appealing “why” is to tell a story.

A story can show your team/stakeholders/users…

  • So what?
  • Why does this matter?
  • Who cares?
  • What’s in it for me?

It will get your audience on board and help them understand what you’re trying to get done.

And let’s be honest, what human doesn’t love a good story?

Short stories are still stories

Stories don’t have to be these long epic stories you might think of like in a movie or book or a TV show.

A story can be short. It only needs to contain a few simple elements.

If you’re trying to get a little feature built or describe your reasoning for something relatively small, a long, epic story would be overkill. A short one is just fine.

The best part…? You can create your short story using a simple 4 step framework.

Step One: Determine the Message

Step one of telling a decent story is to determine your message.

Maybe you want to convince someone to build a feature. Maybe you have a great pitch for a new product. Or maybe you just want to get your engineering team excited about a new feature that TBH, isn’t really all that exciting.

For example, let’s create a story intended to get people to buy-in to the realization that our product needs more integrations for its users.

Step Two: Set the Scene

This is where we’re going to talk about what’s going on, give a little bit of background information, and talk about who our hero is.

Speaking of heroes, make sure your hero isn’t you. Make sure it’s someone else like a user or stakeholder or something like that.

For example, in our new little story about integrations, our hero is a busy user that subscribes to all of these applications. She just subscribed to ours and is struggling because she has to manually copy data from other applications into ours to get the functionality she needs.

Step Three: Outline the Conflict and Attempts to Resolve It

Now it’s time to talk about what the conflict is and what attempts have already been made to solve it.

Our hero of the story has a lot of tools. She’s trying to integrate everything but she can’t find any integrations. She’s manually adding everything.

She’s getting really sick of that, so she’s not using the tool as much and is planning to cancel. Yikes.

Here we’ve set up the conflict — she’s frustrated and her attempts to solve the problem so far haven’t worked. Easy peasy.

Step Four: Reveal the Solution and Drive the Message Home

In the final section of the story, we reveal that building an integration would be the solution to our hero’s struggles. And we see that building integrations can also help us retain users.

** New integrations were recently released** and instead of manually switching and copying data between applications, it’s done automatically. Now, instead of canceling her subscription, she’s actually upgrading to an annual plan. Boom.*

The End

And that’s the end of the story. No, it’s not an epic novel, but it can help you drive home the point of what it is that you want to get done.

Your team will have a much easier time understanding this story than you just saying “hey y’all, we need some more integrations…k?”

And all it takes is walking through four simple pieces.