The Power of Story

Stories are the threads that connect humanity – past, present and future.   They give us a sense of identity, purpose and meaning.   They are the magnets that shape the future.  They are means to appreciate and release past cultural patterns.

Stories play a very important role in social change for three specific reasons:

  • They are a form of deep connection.
  • They are a means to generate creativity.
  • They are a powerful influencer.

As leaders for change, it is our responsibility to improve our storytelling mastery – as connection, creativity and influence are key to catalysing movement.

Here are several ways to cultivate good stories:

1)    Creating the conditions for sacred space.  Sacred space gives people the permission and safety to tell their story.  Form a circle.  Invite a talking piece.  Respect confidentiality.

2)    Cultivate the conditions for good listening.   Listening is half of the story of the story.   Notice, what are your barriers to listening- Physical, judgemental, emotional?

3)    There are multiple stories – there is no one right story.  So appreciate everyone’s special story and the intention and meaning behind it.

4)    What is the intention for your story -Connection, influence, entertainment, inspiration?  A good story has a beginning, middle and end.  Simple! What is your storyboard of 4 nuggets?

5)    Tell your story vividly – as if looking through a video camera.  What happened from a sensory point of view – sounds, smells, dialogue, weather, colours?

6)    Don’t interpret feelings for your listeners- let them do that themselves as we all have different perspectives.  Show, don’t tell.

7)    Timing, pace, movement – good stories have turning points, juxtapositions, twists.

8)    Practice, Practice, Practice!

Links to some great storytelling coaches:  Jane Nash and Dan Milne  Geoff Mead  Mary-Alice Authur