Are you sitting comfortably?

Product managers wear many hats: they’re problem solvers, strategists, and communicators. But storytelling is a skill that can get overlooked. Why is storytelling so important in product management?

Making a connection

How do you sell the benefits of your product? If you’re thinking about features, facts and figures, that’s only the start. Storytelling allows you to weave a compelling narrative, which taps into the emotions of users, team members, and stakeholders.

With storytelling: Imagine a product manager for a fitness app. The PM tells the story of a user who struggled with fitness until they discovered the app. They describe the user’s journey, their challenges, and how the app transformed their life, making the audience feel the emotional impact of the product.

Without storytelling: The product manager simply lists the app’s features, such as workout plans, calorie tracking, and progress charts, without providing context or linking it back to real-world benefits.

Addressing problems with creative solutions

Storytelling can help to frame problems and solutions in a way that resonates with your audience. Presenting your product as the hero that overcomes obstacles can make a significant impact.

With storytelling: In developing a feature for a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, the product manager shares the story of a sales team struggling to manage client interactions before implementing the new feature. The PM shows the pain points and how the solution addresses them.

Without storytelling: The product manager simply lists the specifications and functionalities of the new feature, failing to illustrate the problem it solves and why it’s essential.

User-centric design

User-centric design is an approach that prioritises the needs, preferences, and experiences of end users. It involves creating products and features that are tailored to users’ behaviours and expectations.

To practise user-centric design, product teams often create user personas, which are fictional characters that represent different user groups.

With storytelling: The product manager walks through the day in the life of a user persona, “Jenny”. The PM covers the goals and pain points Jenny encounters in her daily routine. This storytelling approach helps the team connect on a more personal level with the users they’re designing for.

Without storytelling: The product manager relies solely on data and statistics to guide product design, potentially missing the human element and real-life experiences of users.

Stakeholder engagement

Getting stakeholders on board is vital for your product to succeed. Storytelling can bridge the gap between your vision and their understanding. Whether you’re presenting to investors, executives, or cross-functional teams, storytelling can make your case more compelling and relatable.

With storytelling: When seeking funding for a new project, the product manager tells a story about the market need, the potential impact of the product, and how it could change the lives of its users. Investors and stakeholders are inspired by the narrative and see the product’s value.

Without storytelling: The product manager presents financial projections and market research, focusing on data without creating a compelling narrative. This may leave stakeholders feeling uninspired and disengaged.

In summary

Storytelling humanises the product management process, making it relatable, engaging, and memorable. It helps convey the “why” behind a product or decision and evokes emotions that data alone cannot.

Without storytelling, product management can become a dry, data-driven exercise, potentially missing the opportunity to create lasting connections, gain support, and build a deeper understanding of the product’s purpose.

Photo by Shiromani Kant on Unsplash