Why Most Product Managers Aren’t Great Storytellers

Ant Murphy
8 min readNov 13, 2023

[This post was originally published here: https://www.antmurphy.me/newsletter/story-telling-for-product-managers]

What if I told you that you’re already a great storyteller?

Well, more specifically, you already have a lot of great stories to tell.

Truth is, we all have loads of stories but where we struggle is packaging those stories up into something that drives impact.

It’s time to change that!

To explain how, we need to first rewind back 11 years to when I was at the Royal Military College training to be a commander in the Australian Army.

The army have a funny way of doing things. For example, they essentially re-teach you how to talk. Yes, that’s right — how to talk!

The army teaches you to speak in a very deliberate, specific, and structured way.

We are taught to use specific phrases and terms. Both because specific words carry specific meanings. For example, the word CLEAR (i.e. “clear that area”) has a different meaning to CAPTURE.

We are also taught to follow certain structures.

For example, mission statements would typically follow the same format: “Platoon X’s mission is to [do Y] in order to [support our higher commands mission in some way]” and giving orders had their own format too, known as SMEAC (standing for Situation + Mission + Execution + Admin/Log + Command/Signals). I could go on.

But two key things really stuck with me from that experience:

  1. Being deliberate with your words can help facilitate clarity and;
  2. Having a framework for communicating important information can help you be more influential.

Fast forward a handful of years, and I found myself doing the same as a Product Manager.

I would create frameworks and structures to communicate things like the roadmap or what we are currently focusing on and why.

Fast forward a few more years, and I now find myself coaching Product Managers around the world, and storytelling is a common theme.

We are told that great Product Managers are great storytellers but the preaching often lacks actionable guidance on how to become good at storytelling.

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Ant Murphy

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