When you hear the word “story,” what comes to mind? Maybe you visualize a picture from a fairy tale you heard during your childhood. Or perhaps you flash back to a story told by a business leader or political star.
Whatever sort of story comes to mind, it’s likely one that means something to you personally. Well-told stories are engaging, persuasive and memorable – so, are you making the most of them?
This week’s #MTtalk chat is about using storytelling as a powerful workplace tool.
Please Join Us!
When: June 7, @ 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. GMT/10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Using Storytelling as a Workplace Tool
The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.
– Brandon Sanderson, U.S. novelist
A Story in Six Words
During a creative writing course a few years ago, one of our lecturers set the class an unusual exercise. He asked us to write a story in six words. We all looked at each other, slightly confused. Did we hear correctly? A story in six words? Wasn’t a story supposed to be longer, have a beginning, a middle and an end, build up to a climax, have a hero?
Yes, normally a story would be longer than six words. But this lecturer wanted to force us to think differently about stories.
After 10 minutes, we all had to read our six-word stories aloud. Some of them were great, but none came close to the one the lecturer shared.
His story read, simply, “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”
After hearing this story, there was a thick silence in the lecture hall. At last, someone managed to utter a soft, “Wow!”
Some of us had children, some didn’t. A few of us had younger siblings, while others had spent less time around kids. But that six-word story touched all of us.
Everybody felt something, whether it was shock, pain, sympathy, empathy, or curiosity. We could relate to the possible emotional distress contained in those words. And, as well as working on our feelings, the story gave us something to think about, and it made us ask questions.
Stories – Part of Our Fabric
Stories existed long before written language. They’ve always been used as a way to preserve history, to educate, to entertain, to deliver a message, and as part of cultural rites and rituals.
When you hear a person’s story, you unconsciously look for elements in it that you can relate to. It helps you to connect with people, to respond to what they’ve experienced and how they feel about it, and to develop a better understanding of who they are. Great stories get you delving into who you are, too.
Storytelling starts when we’re small, and it never ends. It remains a powerful teaching tool throughout life. Ask any good lecturer or facilitator what they do if they want to drive home an important point, and they’ll tell you that they use a story.
Using Storytelling as a Workplace Tool
In our #MTtalk tweet chat this week, we’re going to talk about storytelling as a workplace tool.
In our Twitter poll, we asked why stories are important to you. More than 40 percent of participants said that stories help to drive connection – a key goal for many individuals and organizations. You’ll find the poll, and the results, here.
We’d love you to participate in Friday’s chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation:
• What do we mean by “stories,” and what is their role in society?
• Why can storytelling be so compelling?
• What elements make an effective story?
• When might storytelling NOT be helpful?
• How can you help others to develop their storytelling skills?
• Are the stories you choose “real life” or imaginary, and why?
• In what ways can storytelling help you and your team to be more effective?
To help you get ready for the chat, we’ve also compiled a list of resources for you to browse:
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets,” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.