Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weaving Storytelling and Business with an Authentic Voice

Storytelling is the ancient art of Oral Tradition and now business executives are discovering what the revered seanchaĆ­ and griots have known for centuries; there is power in story. They are applying the premise to connect with their customer base in commercials and public relations, sometimes with poor results. To succeed, the key is to combine the two with an authentic voice and excellent listening skills.

"Storytelling plays constructive roles in the workplace, in organizations, corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and small  businesses."

“Storytelling is human universal and common themes appear in tales throughout history and all over the world. These characteristics of stories, and our natural affinity toward them, reveal clues about our evolutionary history and the roots of emotion and empathy in the mind.
By studying narrative’s power to influence beliefs, researchers are discovering how we analyze information and accept new ideas.”    
Scientific American Mind, August 2008

Utamaro 1750-1806
Title: Weaving on a Loom


It’s in the Telling of the Story by Dr. Tim Chandler

The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn - Scientific American, August 2008

5 Tips for Telling Better Stories by Marci Alboher

Media Lab creates Center for Future Storytelling

Sales Through Storytelling by Craig Harrison

Tell Me a Digital Story from Business Week by Marcia Stepanek

Use the Power of Storytelling for Business Information Sharing
by Chris King

Work Zone: Storytelling workshop helps future lawyers hone critical skills
By Arielle Brustein

“The creative economy is a powerful and positive global force. Together, artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce and distribute cultural goods and services that impact the economy by generating jobs, revenue, and quality of life.”


Shawn Callahan's Anecdote site has excellent resources.  

Steve Denning
Kathy Hansen has some excellent entries on her blog, A Storied Career.

Ishmael’s Corner: Storytelling Through a Business Prism

Michael Margolis - Lots of good content there, including his new book, Believe Me, which can be downloaded free.

Annette Simmons - Generous resources on her Group Process Consulting site.

Cathryn Wellner offers useful information for those in the non-profit sector.  *

*My thanks to Cathryn Wellner for sharing some of the resources in this section.


The Corporate Storyteller: A Writing Manual & Style Guide for the Brave New Business Leader by Elaine Stirling

The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business by Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman

The Leader's Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative by Stephen Denning

The Power of Personal Storytelling by Jack Maguire

The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations by Steve Denning

The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition) by Annette Simmons

Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story by Kendall Haven

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact by Annette Simmons


Center for Digital Storytelling
This California arts organization assists “young people and adults in using the tools of digital media to craft, record, and share the stories of individuals and communities, in ways that improve all our lives.”

Digital Storytelling Engages Tech-savvy Accounting Students
Knowledge@SMU 9/2/2008 “…digital stories are emerging as tools in a variety of settings. “They are increasingly used to entertain, teach, train, inform, promote and advertise. Corporations and public institutions use digital storytelling to motivate their human capital, create a legacy of corporate stories, and impart core values…”

Digital Storytelling in Higher Education: Journal of Computing in Higher Education
Fall 2006, Vol. 19(1), 65-79 “…the potential for digital storytelling extends far beyond the fields of communication and media studies across many fields of study, including history, American Studies, business and leadership, knowledge management, community planning, and much more…”

Tech Head Stories
A plethora of digital storytelling websites highlighting corporate storytelling, personal, educational and historic journals, along with tools to teach you how to “digital storytell.” There is also a good collection of traditional story resources as well.


"A big part of a CEO's job is to motivate people to reach certain goals. To do that, he or she must engage their emotions, and the key to their hearts is story." ~ Robert McKee, Harvard Business Review June, 2003   

The Brain by Leonardo Da Vinci

Hardwired for Story! by Kendall Haven

Neural Research - The human brain is predisposed to think in story terms. This predisposition is continuously reinforced and strengthened as the brain develops up through age 12. Adults arrive dependent on interpreting events and other human's behavior through a specific story architecture.

Research Confirms: Without established context and relevance, the human mind is unlikely to remember new information, and is even less likely to ever recall it.

• Bransford (1998) "When a topic is unfamiliar to readers/listeners, research shows that the natural tendency is to use familiar story structure with character goal, motive, and struggles to elaborate on available information and to provide mapping structures to bring prior knowledge and experience to bear on the interpretation of current input."

• Coles (1989) "Stories enhanced recall, retention, application of concepts into new situations, understanding, learner enthusiasm for the subject matter." and "Stories enhanced and accelerated virtually every measurable aspect of learning."

• Cooper (1997) "In fact, researchers have found that potential employers want their employees to have mastered two aspects of literacy often omitted from school curricula: listening and speaking."

• Engle (1995) “Story is an essential precursor to mastery of expository and logical forms."

• Mello (2001) "Each study documented that storytelling enhanced literacy." and "Storytelling was an
   effective learning tool that linked literature to content and experience."

• Schank (1990) "Storytelling has demonstrable, measurable, positive, and irreplaceable value in teaching."

• Tannen (1999) "Narrative details create mental images, making possible both understanding and memory."

• Tannen (1999) "Images (created by details), my research suggests, are more convincing and  
   more memorable than either fact or abstract propositions."

• Taylor (2001) "Storytelling is a valuable resource for developing critical thinking skills.

Karen Chace.© 2010
Please contact Karen Chace for permission to reproduce this post. or