Understanding the Critical Components of Storytelling

In this episode of the Cohesion Podcast, Amanda interviewed Laura Klieves, the Senior Director of L&D and Comms at Malwarebytes, a global internet security company that provides cyber protection for consumers, businesses, and organizations. 

Laura’s love of communication started in college with an advertising course that awoke a passion for marketing. Like many other Cohesion Podcast interviewees, over time, she found herself migrating away from her original area of study and being drawn into the world of learning and development. However, Laura still utilizes her communications skills and love for marketing and advertising. 

Her journey changed when an opportunity appeared, and she refused to squander it. Laura was the vice-president at Duarte, a communication agency and training company known for writing, designing, and delivering groundbreaking presentations. Her CEO was scheduled to give a presentation and became ill. Laura raised her hand and stepped into a newfound passion—storytelling.

The presentation was not written for Laura, but she made it her own. What she brought to her address that day was the understanding that communication goes beyond speaking the words and delivering the information. It is about getting people to believe the message you present and buy into it. That is the essence of storytelling—creating core messages woven into demonstrable stories that people will remember. Laura found value in the practice and frequently utilizes the ability in her current position at Malwarebytes.

At Malwarebytes, one of its core values is learning, which Laura highly values. She joined a small L&D team at the company that focuses on corporate functional groups with an extensive portfolio. They aim to be more proactive than reactive. They brought in University of California-Berkeley professors to guide their leadership programs and best-in-class management consultants to form their management programs to accomplish this. 

Continuing on the learning theme, the L&D team has staff members who are e-learning experts and collaborate closely with communications. Through the education process of building out their team, they discovered a gap between the extensive outbound communications of marketing and internal comms.

To narrow the gap, the team started codifying programs, communication styles, and a communication cadence. The motion brought them closer to other groups, such as HR, within the organization. The team understood that Internal comms are very much about change management. You must be able to convince people, from CEOs to a room full of stakeholders, that the ideas you are presenting are worthy of adopting and using. This type of “conversation” leans on delivering convincing stories and is necessary for a cybersecurity company like Malwarebytes.

Cybersecurity is about proactivity and prevention. The value and nature of the process are extensive because of the insidious nature of those who attack systems ransoming personal information or trying to gain proprietary secrets. So, convincing a company to hire you is centered on understanding their field and the processes they perform daily. It goes beyond consultancy. It is about educating your potential customer while learning from them. It is all a form of education.

Learning about your customers is never an easy task. It can be a struggle because, though you may understand the principles of internal communications, you may not know the company and its products. However, there are ways and tactics to get industry knowledge quickly, especially for internal communications people. Laura’s advice? Talk to people. It may sound simple, but really they are telling you their story.

“Get curious and ask a ton of questions,” Laura said. “I guarantee you people love to talk about what they do. They love to share, educate, and mentor. Just be curious…You have to get to know who the target audience is.”

Right now, it is a given that the workforce is relatively remote and dispersed. This work situation is likely to stay here for many industries. Amanda asked what Laura considered some vital tactics for internal comms to be effective and engaging for a digital workforce. Here are the shortlist of questions to answer to solve problems:

  1. Executives communicate often, but not all want to be front and center. How do you incorporate them into the internal communication process? 
  2. Communication channels! How do you leverage those channels, and at what time?
  3. What if you are contending with an email-heavy communication environment?

Laura believed that most companies and organizations lack a robust intranet-ready platform. Without them, stories and information to make them successful aren’t shared between employees, executives, teams, and departments. 

What an interesting point of view. Simpplr may have something to add to that.Curious about how Laura explained these problems and then solved them? Then listen to the Cohesion Podcast available on Simpplr’s website, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify for all the answers.

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