Once Upon a Time … the Power of Storytelling for Business

13 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time … the Power of Storytelling for Business”

    1. Hi Joaquim! Seriously, my credit card is starting to complain about our friendship and lovely recommendations! LOL Thanks much for sharing along another superb recommendation that I will be going through on my summer reading! Sounds very intriguing, to say the least! I will let you know how the book goes! 🙂

      Thanks much for dropping by and for sharing it along! Good stuff!

  1. Interesting post Luis…
    At my work-  I am a learning specialist (a corporate trainer) … or now the learning 2.0 (connected learning guy)…

    I use storytelling during my “facilitation” sessions…and it works wonders. Sure A few slides indicate what’s the topic at hand etc… But teaching through storytelling  brings knowledge sharing Opportunities…through stories,  One can make attendees Feel they can relate more to what’s being said… They engage With Anyone because they feel it’s kind of a many to many   exchange , not based on agenda items solely etc… 

    Also, a story can bring so much more than just instructions or data to learn from… Stories bring richness in context, and that’s where folks can better comprehend the intent if the exchange because tie-ins to real life at work are a lot clearer and easier to make to.  Storytelling moves us from being formal (instructed) at 100% (sorry avid PowerPoint users) 

    The Stories need to also be told right (as in the teller having walked the talk to tell the tale).  That said, the true impact of a story will not only teach everyone including the teller, but bring heavy inspiration to others – it ca generate ideas and set the tone for changes etc… 

    The key I guess would be the approach we use to present (talk to others) to much of a formal approach can hinder our chances to get the best out of a learning session… Why? Because of the strong inclination for monologues… To much of a formal approach  strips away opportunities to empower others to engage with each-other –  and personalize their learning – telling stories to me sounds like an informal approach to learning – and it lets folks feel they can be contributors, part of the learning process – informal is the initial stages of empowerment & relationship building – which hopefully , it can be sustained vial social platforms – social learning – making learning more open and relevant …

    1. Hi Ralph! Fascinating insights, indeed! Many many thanks for making the connection of telling stories and narrative with learning. Goodness! That’s probably the main focus area behind all of the stories we get to share across: learn something while interacting with others! And funny enough it’s something that we haven’t gotten started with social technologies, as you well know, but from as far back as humans are humans. We seem to have forgotten and neglect our innate capability of telling a story, of captivating an audience with a tale from which not only can they learn, but also from stories they can relate to through a common context, which is often what is missed from most slide-ware nowadays where the context has already been predefined without looking into the audience first… Kind of one way monologue, as you indicate.

      I’m surely glad we are making that connection between stories and learning, because in the context of business and relying important messages it’s as good as it gets and we are seeing plenty of that inside of the company with a good number of our executives coming along putting together vodcasts where they just share that: stories and no slide-ware. And they love it just as much as we do. Including the dialogue! 🙂

      Thanks much again for the feedback! And for dropping by…

  2. Hola Luis,

    I enjoyed your very interesting article on storytelling for business. It’s a subject that I have taken up recently from a job search perspective, so it was no surprise that during my research, I found your article.

    Am currently writing a book around storytelling and the job search, so I have really found your article very informative.

    BTW, I have had the privilege of having a few clients from IBM here in Canada.

    Thanks again for a great article.

    Hasta luego!


    1. Hi Daisy, thanks much for the feedback and glad to read you are doing some fabulous research on this topic of storytelling and narrative! I was going to suggest, in case you may not have bumped into them just yet, to reach out to the fine and smart folks from Anecdote with Mark Schenk and Shawn Callahan, who have done some tremendous amount of work on storytelling and narrative for business and from whom I am sure you would benefit quite a bit as additional reading materials…

      And glad you also got in touch with fellow colleagues from IBM Canada. Smart bunch!! 🙂

    1. Hiya Nancy!! That’s just such a great question! Thanks much for sharing it along over here on this thread! I would think our visual part here would be, indeed, our physical bodies, our body language, but also very much our very own attitude. One thing is to keep boring people to death with a monotonous pitch, with no excitement and no passion, for instance, and the other one having all of that in every single pore of our body, permeating through! I do think that kind of physical experience is something that the virtual world would never ever be able to replace. And seeing your extensive experience on conducting F2F events on online facilitation and communities I bet that experience is pretty much the same you would be able to relate to, for sure.

      Ohhh, and having witnessed the last few rounds of F2F I have participated in, it’s been those visual cues of the physical body and body language, including the tone, the passion and the excitement which have surely made a huge impact on convincing me why we probably don’t need as much slide-ware as we think we do… We probably just need to resort to just being ourselves: engaging, witty, smart, conversationalist sharing along those stories! 🙂

  3. Luis, I loved your post. Really interesting and I believe I have had the priviledge to watch one of your first attempts at this approach in Seville, at the e20biz.es, right? There you used only your website as the dackdrop for your presentation, a mind map to guide you through it, and you interacted a lot with the audience, encouraging stories and sharing. It worked really well!
    A few things though.
    You still used some visuals and by Nancy’s question she also believes that is important. I tend to use slides with only a photo and no words at all. I use them as a visual background and as a prompt to my memory. What kind of visuals are OK / appropriate? And what should the role of visuals play here?
    I was recently alerted that being able to share slides online after your presentation is an important way to reach out to a wider audience. This somehow hints to a big drawback on not using slides. Any views on this?

    1. Hi Ana! Thanks ever so much for dropping by and for the wonderful feedback comments! Indeed, the event in Seville was the second one where I attempted to be slide-ware-less and I am surely glad to hear, from the audience 😉 , that things worked out all right! Very very encouraging and glad the main premise I had for the session went through all right! W00t!! Much appreciated the feedback!

      With regards to your questions, I agree with you that having visuals is a good thing, but we should not overdo them. I love your approach of just having a picture, snapshot where you can just tame the messages around it. vs. having tons of text that no-one can read at all! I think the magic bullet is on the balancing act of when a slide can help and when it cannot, and when in doubt, do not use it. Drop it altogether. The reason as to why I used that Web site and then the mindmap, was more than anything else to support a background where I didn’t want to have anything blank in that same background… But in follow-up events I realised that I didn’t even needed that, but I can see the point of having some visual aids to help out with the overall message, but I still think the speaker should be at the centre, interacting with the audience, versus letting slides drive it all …

      And with regards to your other thought on having slides as a follow-up, I did that exactly for the Social Business Forum (See blog post over here) and it worked wonders! Although I did realise as well that the amplifying effect is not so much having the slides themselves, but also the recording of both audio and video, if possible, so that folks can see the whole theme captured. Slides can only go up to so far, whereas your speech in context with that recording can make all the difference. Remember we are much much better communicators using oral cues than written ones, so if there is a chance to record it, why not? I have grown very fond of recording myself during events, and although I hardly share the recordings, because I don’t think people would benefit from them, I love them to give me additional tips on those visual aids of body language, passion, enthusiasm, excitement, and so forth and eventually become better at doing those pitches. It works wonders seeing and watching yourself and put yourself in the role of the audience for a change … 🙂

      Thanks much, once again, for the feedback input! Greatly appreciated and hope to see you soon again!!

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