One of the best parts of my job involves conducting storytelling workshops.
It’s both fun and satisfying to help participants connect the dots to a simple premise: Given a choice between “interesting” and “dull,” human beings pick “interesting” virtually every time.
I’m constantly refining the package shared with participants in our workshops for business storytelling.
Lately, these are my go-to narratives:
- The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn (Scientific American; link takes you to syndicated content): There’s a fair amount of science that makes a case for storytelling in business communications. This one is the best for my money, and yes, I did fork out the $7.95 for the PDF reprint.
- Storytelling That Moves People (Harvard Business Review, requires sign in): HBR treks to the home of Hollywood screenwriter and director Robert McKee to find out why executives should care about storytelling, how storytelling works and the meaning of life. He hammers home the point that motivating others isn’t just an intellectual process. It requires engaging people’s emotion. Enter storytelling stage left.
- Revealing Your Moment of Truth (McKinsey Quarterly, requires sign in): This article always resonates with executives. If the bluest of the blue-chip management consultants have jumped on the storytelling bandwagon, they figure what’s the point in trudging down the corporate speak path.
- “Block That Adjective!” (The Wall Street Journal): Alexander McCall Smith, best known as the novelist behind the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, harpoons those pesky (oops) adjectives. In the spirit of full disclosure, McCall Smith won me over when he stopped by the blog a few years back.
- “Your Brain on Fiction” (The New York Times): With a title riffing on the 1987 anti-narcotic campaign, “This Is Your Brain on Drugs,” the essay does lean in the direction of storytelling geeks. Still, anyone with a stack of books on the nightstand will like the close.
- “Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains” (Lifehacker): This article drills into the cognitive science that underpins storytelling, but in language that can be absorbed by non-technical folks.
I had one workshop participant tell me with a certain amount of glee that actually, this was hammock reading. And that’s exactly how he read the articles.
In a hammock.
I think he’s getting the hang of this storytelling stuff.