Storytelling – A Critical Skill for Product Managers

Product Manager - many hats-2

Product Managers are involved in all stages of the product life cycle. If we have to group/distill the functions, it would go something like this – design & development, positioning, and pricing.

At each stage, a product manager dons different hats – that of an entrepreneur, researcher, analyst, marketer, and negotiator. The avatars of product managers vary from company to company. But a common skill required across these avatars is storytelling. 

At the design stage you are writing the product story, while positioning the product you are crafting the brand story and during pricing you are telling the value story.

Storytelling skills in an external context

The product manager is akin to a movie director. A movie director works on a script revolving around the central character (a hero), while the product manager needs to ensure the product user is the central character. Ideating, developing, and managing products through their life cycle making the user the hero.

Taking a basic storytelling approach means understanding and defining user problems and needs. The role of a Product Manager in the user’s story is that of a guide who enables the hero to overcome challenges and fulfill their needs.

Keeping the primary focus on the user is essential for a product manager while conducting market research and understanding user problems. The outcome is a set of needs that can present a market opportunity.

Prioritisation is a key requirement for Product Managers. Critical decisions are taken in feature development. Each feature is like a micro narrative, and has a place in the larger solution that the Product Manager as a guide offers the user (the hero).

... In an internal setting

The Product Manager builds a solid business case and product roadmap, and works to obtain stakeholder buy-in. The Product Manager’s storytelling skills come into play heavily in this stage.

Stories are an integral part of the product development process. A product manager sets the context, tone and direction for internal teams. Continuing to play the guide’s role, the Product Manager leads the way through the design, development, prototyping, testing, and launch of the solution.

If you are a product manager, storytelling is an essential skill.

Building storytelling skills help product managers to successfully juggle through various roles and responsibilities in every aspect of the product life cycle. If you are interested in how to learn storytelling, let’s talk.