Sam Villis: Storytelling

Talk summary

Sam Villis

Sam Villis

Ever sat in a show and tell that’s fallen flat? Had trouble selling the value of your work within your organisation, or struggled to sell yourself at interview?

The stories that resonate, that travel, and build connections with others are those which are memorable and compelling. As Bobette Buster says in Do: Story, How to Tell Your Story so the World Listens, the stories that we tell need to “pass on the spark” – to leave the listener with something memorable that they can take forward in their work or tell others.

As agile and digital professionals we sometimes struggle to communicate the complexities and nuance of our work, and in our detail leave our listeners cold.

Remember when we were children and stories meant so much to us? Stories were how we communicated about how we saw the world. But like other subjects at school (like art or sport) for many of us the pervading inner voice says “I’m not a good writer / artist / footballer” rather than doing the activity for the fun of it, to build connections with other people and try.

This is in direct opposition to our agile principles of iteration and improvement.

But there are structures we can use to help us tell compelling stories, and like anything, storytelling is a practice, you get better the more you do it.

Date & time: 17th July 2020, 09:45

Duration: 30 minutes

How to watch: All talks on Friday 17th July will be free and streamed on YouTube. The link to the stream will be published here, and on the BUG Meetup page closer to the event.


About Sam

Sam Villis is a digital professional with over 10 years experience across a range of fields and industries. She has worked in publishing and has had a passion for writing since leaving school. She has written for local newspapers, online music publications and on her own personal blogs.

She has worked in the Civil Service since 2015 in a variety of departments and digital roles. Sam is currently Head of Digital at the Cabinet Office’s National Leadership Centre and has previously worked in the Local Digital Collaboration Unit at the Ministry for Housing. Immunities and Local Government, helping councils around the country to improve their digital services for the public through provision of the Local Digital Fund, acting as a consulting product manager.

In government we often talk about “Knowledge and Information Management” but Sam believes that the best way of passing on information is through genuine human connection and compelling, memorable stories. As a member of One Team Gov she has built connections with public servants around the world and have travelled to Copenhagen to speak about the movement, as well as run two successful Apolitical online workshops the last of which includes attendees from 14 countries.