Becoming a Better Story Teller

Nov. 9, 2015
If you want an audience to hear your message about better fleet efficiency, tell your story clearly and quickly.

One of the great things about being part of a larger organization is that I get to come in contact with some really smart people who challenge me to do things differently than I usually do.

I recently spent part of the day with our partners at the Rocky Mountain Institute in something they call a Lunch and Learn. I was challenged to distill the essence of the work we do into seven minutes; 20 slides, 20 seconds each. In that time it was my job to explain what Trucking Efficiency was and what the other people in the room could do to help us achieve our goals.

Those of you who know me know if left unchecked I could talk for hours about why it is important to help fleets become more fuel efficient and about the work we do with Confidence Reports and workshops. So this exercise at RMI was quite a challenge for me.

But a secondary goal of it was to make me a better storyteller, and it is in the telling of our story that we can broaden the base of people who are willing in helping get us to that 12-mpg goal we are trying so hard to reach.

People in the room and in four other locations via video connection, had different levels of understanding about the work we do and it was my job to get them on board so they can start telling our story too and influence even more people.

At the end of my seven minutes the group got to ask questions. They had some pretty good ones too:

  • What is this confidence rating matrix you use for recommending efficiency measures?
  • How does changing driver behavior figure into your work?
  • An important part of your model is that you’re trusted and unbiased, but you also are part of an environmental nonprofit and you’re working with an industry that is often hostile to “environmental” causes. How do you handle this?

All great questions. And here are my short answers — just to prove that I have become a better storyteller from my seven-minute exercise

  • The matrix plots the level of payback in terms of 1-3 years and the level of available information on the tech.  It is a strong tool, I think in helping fleets determine what risks to take on which opportunities.
  • Driving habits affect fuel efficiency a great deal and drivers can help make a technology work well or doom it to failure.  So, a driver engagement plan to improve efficiency is critical.
  • And the final one, is a great question.  The answer I think is rather simple actually – burning less fuel saves dollars and emissions.  So, our work in trucking efficiency, delivers both, so a conflict?  No, not really.

Challenge yourself to tell your story in 7 minutes or less.  It’s enlightening and will help you focus on the really important clear messages.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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