The power of storytelling


When my kids where younger we organized birthday parties that often had themes like pirates, knights and princess and princesses. A scavenger hunt was a fixed item in all these parties. And before the start of the hunt I always told a story based on the party theme. All the kids would have a role in the story and each of them would have some special power, they could use during the hunt. It was great fun and it gave an extra dimension to the scavenger hunt; kids where really in their role during the hunt. I also told stories to my kids before they went to sleep, I had some characters like boef-mega-boef (translated that would be crook-mega-crook) and my kids where always the hero that saved the day.

I had completely forgotten about this (my kids are older now), but a workshop I had on ‘corporate storytelling’ brought it back in my memory. The idea behind ‘corporate storytelling’ is simple. A story is easier to remember than a mission statement. So if you are able to transform your mission into a corporate story it is easier to remember, people can tell it to each other and thus it will have more impact.

When I was preparing for the workshop I saw a video of Steve Jobs, that’s a story!

I learned that a good story has a certain fixed structure. It’s like a movie (these steps come from Doug Stevenson):

  1. Set the scene
  2. Introduce the characters
  3. Begin the journey
  4. Encounter the obstacle
  5. Resolve the story
  6. Make the point
  7. Ask “the question”
  8. Repeat the point / The phrase that pays

But most of all I learned that it is easier to create a pirate or knight story than a corporate one that captures your vision and mission. I’m still working on it, if I have finish it I will let you know.

I can also see the power of a story in the context of learning, it is a great way to covey a message. Serious games, simulations and cases are stories in their essence, I never thought of them as stories before. I search the web for more information, this is a short selection of what I found:

Storytelling at a Distance, by Lisa Neal:
She gives an extensive overview of storytelling and (e)Learning

Using Digital Storytelling for Creative and Innovative e-Learning, by Nalin Sharda
She refers to the McKee principles for structuring stories.

Storytelling & Collaborative E-Learning by Janet Salmons, she gives very clear guidelines on how to use storytelling with e-Learning.

2 comments

  1. I heard about a great MOOC (free university online courses) entitled “The future of storytelling”, and I wanted to share the good news with everybody interested in storytelling.

    The MOOC will be about :
    – storytelling basics,
    – serial formats (on the TV, web and beyond),
    – storytelling in role-playing games,
    – interactive storytelling in video games,
    – transmedia storytelling,
    – alternate-reality gaming,
    – augmented reality and location-based storytelling,
    – the role of tools,
    – interfaces and information architectures in current storytelling.

    The course starts on October 25th, 2013 (so it’s time to share this news…)

    To discover the course and/or enrol, it’s at this URL : https://iversity.org/courses/the-future-of-storytelling?r=14bd5

    May be I’ll meet other readers of this blog in the MOOC?! 🙂

    Like

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