Volume 115, February 2012: Storytelling: The Mind Thinks in Pictures

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2012 ISSN # 1545-8873

In these challenging times, it is easy to feel discouraged. Instead of handing out statistical reports or stacks of facts, use words to lift people up, not load them down. Portray and celebrate your history, strengths and victories with customers and employees.

If the stories going around in your organization are negative and cynical, counter them with stories in a style and tone which allows people to learn, to feel hope and pride, to see solutions and values in action.

If you are dry on stories, borrow some. Adapt them and improve upon them. Or take the existing stories in your organization and put a new “spin” on them.

Inspiring means literally “to breathe life into.” This can only come from heart-felt communication.

In your stories,

  • Paint with word pictures.
  • Allow people to see themselves in the story.
  • Draw on your convictions. Passion will arise from personal truth.
  • Use language that is inclusive. “We.”
  • Be brief.
  • Be simple. Stories speak to the child in us.
  • Motion attracts the eye. Use your facial expression and gestures to enhance the delivery.
  • Organize around one theme or lesson (the moral of the story).
  • Avoid telling them you will be storytelling.

Practice Point

Just do it. Rebecca Richmond at gives us some suggestions on how to gather stories. Use a format, “Tell us a time when you felt X, Y, Z (e.g., disenchanted).” As a technique for collecting stories, try Anecdote Circles to share stories – away from work and with lots of space in the room. Use social media: have an online channel or blog where people can post their stories.


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