True Confession… I’m a Sally Storyteller

August 27, 2015
Maya Stosskopf

3499499024_0530ebb0a1I have a confession to make, when I’m a meeting participant…I’m a little bit talky.  Especially if no one else is speaking much, or if I have an idea to express, I just have to express it.  The problem is that I talk in order to work out an idea.  So what I say is not in a tightly-edited format, it meanders from place to place.  I’m a bit of a Sally Storyteller.  I think that I’m making sense, and I think that I’m adding value, but really? Not so much.  Everyone in the room might agree with what I’m saying and my reasoning, but because I can’t turn it into a headline and tag it, no one knows what to do with everything I said.

As a facilitator, I see this happen in other meeting participants, and it’s sooo easy to spot.  I have to prod the storyteller to summarize their thought and tag it with a headline.  But sometimes they don’t know what they are saying either.

I sympathize.  When I’m Sally Storyteller, I know that I’ve just expressed something important.  But even I struggle to edit it down and I do this for a living.  I don’t think my entire thought through before I speak. So I fill the space left by silence with my thought process.  It isn’t about trying to control the room or steal more glory for myself, I just want to contribute.  I don’t want to look back on a decision and think “if only I’d spoken up about that thing that was bugging me.”

It takes practice to turn thoughts into a tight headline.  It strikes me as a disservice to the underlying idea to boil it into 5 words.  I’m resistant to lose the complexity and nuance.  Bullet points are so cheap.  

But I tell myself the underlying idea in all its complexity lives on, it’s just that the flipchart, and people’s brains, need a shortcut way to index that idea so we can talk about it and refer to it later.

I bring paper now, and I am really trying to control my impulse to just speak.  I try to work out the headline before I jump in to contribute.  Sometimes, I just can’t, but at least I know I’m losing everyone when I do it.
photo credit: <a href=”″>Winding Path</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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