The art of storytelling

I listened to a little bit of the BBC Radio 2 young people’s short story competition winners. It was amazing to know that so many young people would sit down and put their imagination to the test to develop interesting storylines. There were a huge number of entries and it is really heartening in this digital and computer game age to know that children are still writing stories.

Storytelling is part of what makes us human. It is an essential part of society and for any professional communicator it is a key skill. Everything hinges on having a good story and being able to share it with others. There are a number of elements to it including: content, delivery, creativity and construction. All of them need to work together to be really effective.

For internal communicators it is particularly important. Over many years management have just wanted to tell staff things. It hasn’t been about negotiation or discussion it has been about delivering pearls of wisdom and orders to be followed through. Only recently have people realised that to get the most from people you need to be able to have a clear narrative about what the organisation fundamentally stands for. You need to be able to articulate it in a way that is meaningful and easy to understand. That is where storytelling can be so vital.

Why do we lose our ability to develop and tell stories? It is something that we had to do at school but as soon as we grow up it is lost. How many adults will sit and write a story or let their imagination develop an idea? We don’t. But storytelling is going on every day in offices, workplaces and pubs. Wherever people get together they do tell stories. They just don’t see it as that but rather they see it as sharing news and information.

Storytelling should be seen as a skill that is supported and prized in development. It is great that it is being supported by competitions and events like that by BBC Radio 2. Now perhaps we should value the art of storytelling among communicators.

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