Master the art of storytelling through exercise

Master the art of storytelling through exercise


Exercise 1: Recognising a story

Read the speech below by a Manager in a logistics company who shares with his team the story of how his unit managed to recover from a difficult situation.

What is working well? What would you add? What is the impact on the team?

"Today I would like to start our team meeting with something special.  Something I am personally very proud of. Two years ago our logistics department was understaffed and losing money. We were facing a delicate situation with a major customer and, remember, a crisis in the delivery systems. Many of you here today were part of that team; others, like me, are new. When I joined the team, I was afraid in my heart that we would not achieve the numbers we needed to survive. The challenges were many. We faced them with courage. I'm sure you remember that workshop two years ago to the day when we built our vision. It was an emotional day - with some fights about where we should go (people will recognise themselves!) - and joy and relief because we had decided to tackle the problems that we know were real. Our challenge was to come to see things in the same way and to build a real strategic plan.

At the same time, communiqués from headquarters announced that the budgets of the unprofitable entities would be cut significantly. For us, this was a big threat that created a lot of stress for everyone.

Our challenge was to give ourselves the means to create our vision - today we have that vision - and a roadmap to ensure that we stay on the course every day to achieve it. Jean-Pierre's department has realigned sales to the target growth rate of 15% per year. Marie's department has made inroads in innovation, giving us a digital cargo tracking system. Amy and her HR team have worked hard on our employer brand. Today we are attracting new recruits with a wide range of backgrounds and profiles. We have moved our business and we have done so with energy and a desire for simplicity and rationality. It takes energy to win back lost markets, to take long-haul flights across several time zones to win back former clients, or to attend a job fair for young graduates for four weekends in a row! It takes energy to meet several specialists in the digital world and to make the right choice for our business. And it's our daily job to keep our business free of clutter, to keep it simple and streamlined.

Our business unit has moved from 5th to 3rd place in the group, and we no longer hear talk of its future. Our organisation is sharp and forward-looking, ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Let's continue to boost our dynamism together!”

Exercise 2 - building your story

  • What was the background of your event? What were the context and landscape? - Build the scenario in three acts: describe the situation, relate the conflict, propose a solution
  • Who is the hero of your story? What are their characteristics? Name them, and bring them to life! The more details you give, the more your audience will remember. - What was the challenge?
  • What did the actors do? Be specific and describe it well!
  • Why did they do it?
  • What emotions came into play during this journey?
  • Why is this important? What are the lessons learned? What does this mean for your company/department now/future? Give an explicit, future-oriented objective of the actions to be taken given the "learnings" from your story.
  • Final check: does your story contain a personal element? Does it reflect pride? Are there any values highlighted? Is there a vision? Does it describe emotions?
  • Test it with people you know

Exercise 3 - building your story

As you develop your own storytelling skills, learn to identify the ingredients of the many stories you hear around you - at work, at home, at the cinema...