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Teaching vs. Storytelling … One in the Same?

Posted October 12, 2011 at 01:10 pm

1174415_19441857.jpgLet’s take a minute to go back … and for some of us I mean way back.  All the way back to a time when we sat gathered around our grandparents’ knees as we waited with baited breath to find out what happened next to our favorite characters.  Back to the days of storytelling and the magical moments those tales produced.

I’m betting even today you can remember every word.  I know I can.  I’ve even shared a few with the next generation, taking my place in a tradition that is as old as language itself.

This brings me to the question of the day.  When did we forget about the power of the story?  When did we forget that stories themselves are powerful teaching tools that can create memories which are both strong and lasting?

Simply put, a story is easier to remember than a test question, or a marketing campaign, or even a vision statement.

So why are we not using this?  Why are we not taking this childhood skill and leveraging it into our now corporate lives.

Hmmm … corporate.  Have to admit, its a deliberate choice of word because this movement does in fact have a name and it is known as none other than “corporate storytelling.

Here is what I think.  I think that if we want to become better teachers, then it is time for us to become better storytellers.  They are one in the same after all.  Before there were textbooks or PowerPoint or learning initiatives, there were stories.  Stories handed down from generation to generation that shared key information necessary for survival.  And, while we are “mostly” past the survival point in our evolution, we still have the need to learn.

So today I’m g890494_55640487.jpgoing to share a few quick secrets to help you on your quest.  After all, there is a method to the madness when it comes to telling a good story.  And here it is:

1.  Set Your Scene

Begin to build the setting for your tale.  Introduce characters and let your audience get a feel for the story.

2.  Build the Rising Action

Make things happen.  People are moving, times are changing and conflict is inevitable.

542439_59528342.jpg3.  Inject the Problem

Every good story has a crisis.  Figure out what yours is and introduce it here.

4.  Resolve the Problem

The hero swoops in and saves the proverbial day … one way or another.

5.  Make your Point

What does all this mean, and why did you take the time to tell this tale?  This is where we move from “story” to “teaching tool.”  If your story hits the right cord, then your audience will have no problem making the jump with you.

593156_69069051.jpg6.  Start Asking Questions

This is where the participants begin to put it all together.  Again, if they can see the connection then you shouldn’t have much work to do here.  They will create their own mental bridge, connections will be made and retention will increase to a whole new level.

So now I’m think there’s only one thing left for me to say, “Once upon a time …

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