September, 2016 | Published by Anecdote - Putting Stories to Work.
Greetings from the team at Anecdote and welcome to the September edition of Anecdotally. This month, we have a special offer for our newsletter readers: free weekly story triggers. We’d also like to tell you about the events and presentations we’ll be involved in over the next few months, the importance of keeping oral stories oral, a simple technique for remembering stories, and some breaking news about a new translation of one of our storytelling programs. We’d also like to remind those of you who don’t yet have a copy of Shawn’s new book Putting Stories to Work that you can buy one (paperback or e-book) on Amazon, or you can order the special hardcover edition from our website — Shawn is happy to sign your hardcover on request.
Breaking News - Storytelling programs now available in six languages
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To develop the habit of business storytelling, you need stories to tell. It’s obvious, right? But we all get busy and forget to collect good stories to tell.
Well, we’ve come up with a simple technique to help you find stories. Each week, on Wednesday, we can send you a story trigger, which is either a question or a photo designed to prompt your memory for a story. It looks like this:
If a story springs to mind, you must jot it down right away. Stories are ephemeral. You have to grab them when they appear.
If you would like to get a weekly email, just contact Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy and I have just finished a strategy story project for an innovative tech company. It was a terrific experience. The leaders really got it and enthusiastically adopted the story approach to make their strategy stick.
As we crafted the strategy story based on input from the leadership team, we kept in mind the principle that it’s best to keep the story oral for as long as possible. So, between revisions, instead of writing out the story and then sharing the written version for comment, we recorded the story being told orally and then shared the MP3.
In our experience, this has several advantages. The first is that an audio version of a strategy story is less likely to prompt nitpicky wordsmithing. In fact, I’ve never had that reaction to an audio. As soon as I submit a written version of a story, however, everyone becomes a grammar and precise-word-selection dictator. That’s despite the fact that they will each tell the story in their own words and in their own way.
Another advantage of sharing a strategy story orally is that the organisation’s leaders get to hear the story multiple times and in the process get to know it. Without thinking about it, they’re already learning their strategy story.
We relearn this principle each time we do a strategy story project — it is vital to keep oral stories oral. Please give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on.
The most effective use of business storytelling is when you can tell a story to make a point off the cuff, no preparation. This can only happen if you remember stories to tell. A good way to do that is to simply tell stories as soon as you can after finding them. Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve reminds us that to really make them stick, you need to tell the story a few times spaced over time, say in a day, a week, a month.
This video illustrates a simple method I’ve developed that not only helps you remember the story, it also helps you associate the story with things that are meaningful and relevant so it pops to mind when you most need it. And as an added bonus, making the connection to meaning reinforces your ability to remember.