TheStoryTest–build your skill in spotting stories

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —March 20, 2011
Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling

We developed to help you build your skill to identify stories. Quite frankly it’s hard to be a good storyteller if you can’t tell the difference between a story and say, an opinion, or an analogy or even a case study. A good storyteller’s ears prick up as soon as one starts and they also notice when no stories are being told. has 10 examples of stories and non-stories and your job is to decide which is which. At the end you’ll get a score and get a link to the answers. We want as many people as possible in every organisation in the world to build their story intelligence. It will help bring more humanity to organisations. was born from the observation that many good folk who came to our Storytelling for Business Leaders training couldn’t say for certain when a story was told. Probably about 70% were either unsure or totally off base. By the way, if you were wondering if I ‘ve told any stories so far in this post, the answer is no.

Just this week I was reminded of just how poor we are at seeing stories. Like everyone else in the story business I’m excited about Peter Guber’s new book on storytelling, Tell to Win. So when I discovered he was interviewed by Harvard Business I clicked on over and watched the 6 min video. I joked to my colleague Kevin before watching it saying “wouldn’t it be funny if he didn’t tell any stories.” Well you could bowl me over with a fluffy croissant; there wasn’t a single story in sight. A number of friends also sent me this video and I replied back saying how remarkable it was that Peter didn’t tell any stories and on more than one occasion my correspondent replied to the effect, “bloody hell, I didn’t even notice.”

By the way, the problem is rarely an inability to see enough stories, rather we often see stories in everything, even when there are none to be found. It’s because we humans are all story creating creatures who make up stories to explain anything that doesn’t quite make sense. We feel safer if we have the story.

Now, you are probably wondering, so what makes a story (and I don’t mean what makes a good story–that’s another thing altogether)? Before we answer that question go and try your skill on TheStoryTest and then we will point you to the basics of how to spot stories. Once you can do it consistently your storytelling will take off.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. John Parboosingh says:

    Thanks for the Story Test. It fits perfectly with my current needs. Thanks Shaun

  2. Neat idea! It would make a fine writing prompt, a kind of warm-up.

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