Only a little over a month before I present our storytelling for business leaders workshop in New York. I remember the first one I did about 5 years ago. Interestingly, it wasn’t something we wanted to do at first. We were reluctant to teach storytelling because our work was mainly focused on collecting and helping people make sense of their own work stories (something we still do a lot of today). We felt that that storytelling was potentially dangerous; it could be used to manipulate people (stories are powerful). As a result we avoided it but our clients kept asking: “hey, you guys know a lot about stories, why don’t you teach us to be better storytellers?”
We finally agreed on the strict proviso that the stories must be authentic and tell what really happened. For me I’m much more interested in the little anecdote of what happened at work rather than the grand fable or fairytale. This sometimes gets me into a little strife because some of our new clients think, “I’m so looking forward to be entertained by some witty fables or folk tales.” And then they discover that I mainly tell stories of thing that happen to people at work. Here’s an example from last week.
This mining company values perfectionism. It’s important to replicate things with little variation. Inside this company there were a group of trainers who worked closely together and one was a great storyteller. He told this one story in his classes that really engaged his students and conveyed some really important information in a way that there was no chance they would ever forget it. The other trainers agreed, they also needed to tell this story in their classes. So they sat down together and wrote out the story and then read it out in their training. They didn’t get the engaged audience. It wasn’t so memorable. In fact they killed the story.
This was told by one of the trainers in that group and she said it was the time when the penny dropped for her that you can’t control everything and when you let go a little lots of good can come from it.
I’m hoping you will consider coming along to my little storytelling workshop on 27th September. I have invited some of America’s top business storytelling talent along as well so we can all learn from one another. I can’t wait.
This is where you can buy your ticket http://anecdote-sbl-newyork-2011.eventbrite.com/
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: