How I translate engineer’s work into storytelling

In my work at StoryU, I was told to tighten up my own story with my process on how I do communications and storytelling for and about engineers. I was to list of 3 to 5 points on how exactly I speak “engineer.”

It has always felt very natural. I am comfortable in most conversations about engineering and processes even when I have little background info.

This was a fantastic idea, and I am starting to work on this now. Here is a first draft.

How I speak “Engineer” about my main topic (machine, process or person)

1. Find out the main goals or initiatives of the group and the related corporate-wide initiatives for the company, such as GE’s “New Industrial Company.” Research the different levels of leaders to see what they are saying about the topic, then find out the main subject of your story fits in, or locate you subject in the big story. Ask yourself how the person, machine or process fits into company goals. GE white papers by the GE economist have been my best resource for the macro level. I start to pay attention to global issues around this, great learning and creativity takes place once you can situate your small subject into the whole. This knowledge drives editing decisions on an intuitive level.

2. Know that asking questions is fundamental to how an engineer solves problems. Be brave and start to ask the obvious questions, soon you will be in a deep dive and you will follow the flow of ideas.

3. By Following the flow of the ideas, you will uncover the engineering’s passions, tie a question back to the work, you will find the story here. Try not to dominate or talk about yourself. You will miss stuff.

4. Talk to diverse people to get the story straight, an engineering manager, an engineer from another group, a designer, an operator, a manufacturing leader. These people will bring better understanding to the primary story and let you tell the story better.

5. Revisit you Macro/Micro view of the world, company, economy, goals, group, team, machine, person.

6. Happily Network. Always network and make new acquaintances everyday. This is another way to connect dots, people, places and things. Always be enthusiastic about learning new things and meeting new people. People are more fun and more open and more relaxed if they feel you get them.

Finally, some tips for tweaking the final product. You will see the company’s core beliefs or initiatives come thru, specifically point those out. Give the viewer a take-a-way, they want this.

Leave a Reply