Story Telling

Growing up, he loved to listen to his father and visitors to their rural area of the state as they shared stories.  He watched those who visited his family intently as they reacted to the stories.  When he didn’t understand a story, he imagined a better way of telling it.  He became a master of speaking in plain language.  Then he would retell the stories he heard to his childhood friends.  They were quick to give him feedback, and he would revise his stories based upon the feedback.  Over time, Abraham Lincoln became a master story teller, and it was this ability that enabled him to lead our nation through one of its most difficult times.

Plato said:  “Those who tell stories rule society.”  While one could argue that Plato is over generalizing the power of stories, it is true that stories are a very effective way to communicate change.  Effective stories reduce complex subjects to human dimensions.

Effective stories contain both the context of the story and a conclusion that is open to the interpretation of the story receiver.  Thus, stories engage the story receiver in deciding how they think about a situation rather than telling them how to think.  As a result, those hearing the stories can relate to the core message of the story without the feeling of being lectured to.

Stories are memorable.  While we may forget much of what we are told, we remember stories.  In many cases, we might also share the stories with others.  This retelling of the stories also embeds them in our memory.

Stories are organic in that they change with each telling.  Stories need to be adjusted for specific audiences in order to make them more relatable.  The power of a story is based upon the connection to the audience, and this can only be realized when the story is adjusted in real time.  As a result, the story and the story teller are both critical in the effectiveness of the message.

Stories are transformational.  Both the story teller and the audience are transformed by the story.  A story teller can share a story many times and still be moved with each telling.

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            “Story, as it turns out was crucial to our evolution – more so than opposable thumbs.  Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.”  – Lisa Crum (Story Coach)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.