Storytelling picture













Witches and wolves in a forest abyss.

Princesses kissing frogs and finding their prince.

You are transported. You feel the magic, drama, romance and fear.

Kelly and I recently hosted an OD Networking Event with a group of professionals. Our chosen topic was: How can we, as OD professionals, look to the research on innovation and creativity to encourage people in business to solve people problems in a different way? (See the ‘Conjuring Creativity’ blog post: Our conversation was rich with insights from the research and firsthand experience in applying techniques to prime people’s brains for complex problem solving.

The topic then evolved into a discussion about the art and impact of storytelling. As a former Journalism student I can vividly remember during my Honours year at university the realisation, and accompanying pang of disappointment, that I had morphed into an APA (the Australian Psychological Association) report-writing robot. APA provides strict guidelines for how psychologists are required to write and document reports in the interest of best practice. Had all of my imaginative ideas given up on me and bought a one way ticket back to Never Never Land? With this in mind, I was motivated to explore the concept of storytelling further and how it would apply to the conformity of the business world.

There is a reason that the Harry Potter series has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, it has been translated into 73 languages and has enchanted readers for over 15 years (ref: How can we impart learnings through something as captivating as a story about wizards that is meaningful in the workplace?

As a psychologist and storyteller, I want to incorporate storytelling into my practice. I want to create a sparkle in peoples’ eyes through meaningful stories that facilitate the learning process for my clients. The art of storytelling is relevant to any professional who intends to communicate a message or impart a meaningful learning. Why? Because people remember and learn from stories. Often what we have to say is complex and difficult, and storytelling is a way of delivering a complicated message.

In reflecting on this topic, I have pulled together the following suggestion for how to engage in storytelling in the workplace:

  1. Break the meeting mould – During meetings, be spontaneous with a story or anecdote to demonstrate a point. Observe others’ responses. What impact did this have?
  2. Look for the sparkle – When telling a story from personal experience or relaying a quote, look for the sparkle in peoples’ eyes and their body language. This is valuable feedback and can inform how you tailor your messages in future.
  3. Draw on the obscure for inspiration – People received hundreds of thousands of messages each day via all five senses. How can your message possible compete? Draw your stories and storytelling techniques from different places to captivate the attention of your audience. How would Dr Seuss, Albert Einstein or Pinocchio relay the same message?


Build your bank of sparkle eye stories and have the courage to take people on a journey!

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