Part 2: Upping your Storytelling Game

I started part 1 of this blog series with some thoughts about the science of storytelling and why stories are so impactful.  At the time, I was really looking forward to the Super Bowl because commercials are often times great stories. Unfortunately, this year’s commercials were a little disappointing (much like the game itself). Even though the Super Bowl let us down this year, you can still find stories all around us.

How do stories help us and how can we use them more effectively in the workplace? Presenting data can persuade or justify a point by engaging your left-brain. In contrast, stories use your right-brain and can actually change a way of thinking or behaving by inspiring action or change.

Here are a few tips for crafting a good story:

  1. Choose one important idea and keep it simple. Try to pick an idea that is universally applicable instead of transactional. Make sure the idea is of the appropriate “scale”. If it’s too big, it may seem irrelevant. If it’s too small, it may seem insignificant.
  2. Set up a conflict or problem. The tension created by the conflict will connect with your audience. Once they are hooked, they’ll need to see it to closure.
  3. Take us on a journey that results in a change or transformation. Using an abbreviated Hero’s Journey or Freytag’s Pyramid will bring the story to closure.

Let’s keep this adventure going! In part 3 of this series we’ll look at a few examples of organizational storytelling. You can use these tips in all aspects of your work: presentations, communications, learning, recruiting and more.  And if you have any great examples of your organizational stories, please share!

Cheryl Farley