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Stories: Effective Business Tool

I used "storytelling" as one of the ways to teach without being preachy or, worse, dull and repetitive.

Photo Credit: Mike Guilbault

Photo Credit: Mike Guilbault

For over 20 years, I have worked with stories as a business tool.

I stumbled upon storytelling in university, when I was studying adult education. I learned that to engage an adult audience, I would need three ways to communicate new information for people to make sense of, and turn into learning.

I used “storytelling” as one of the ways to teach without being preachy or, worse, dull and repetitive. It wasn’t until I started analyzing the “smile sheets” at the end of my workshops that I realized that people liked “storytelling” best.

Unfortunately, “storytelling” was also the thing that people liked least. I kept experimenting for another 10 years and developed a true appreciation for the power of stories.  Stories were the real thing. Stories work because genuine emotion is revealed and that is where our true power lies.

Are you curious to give storytelling a try? Let’s practice.

Start by giving this photograph a minute of your attention. Does it inspire a thousand words? Simply play with expressing yourself, using the photograph as a launching point. Share what you see, or believe you see, in as many or as few words as you are moved to write.

Here’s my story offering. Feel free to build on it!

Two high school sweethearts are making out in the spacious cab of this wonder relic. It’s the perfect spot to get away from anyone who might be looking for them. Who would ever look here?  When old Hank died, his son didn’t have the heart to clean up the place or remove the weathered “Keep Out” sign. Sometimes, when life gets a little crazy, he drives up from the big city to walk around the place, sometimes just to get a breath of fresh air.  When he does, it is always bittersweet…for this place will always be “home.”  Maybe the sweethearts will meet Hank’s son some day. For now, they enjoy their own company and the bristle of old Hank’s hallowed voice, “Keep Out!

To tell a business story, develop a storyline with the same traditional story pattern:

The beginning – to define the current situation;

The middle – to identify the inherent conflict involved;

The end – to reach a believable solution of a happy ending;

If you need advice or guidance with telling your story, I am happy to help.

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