The Power of the Short Story

Posted by  Kevin Bishop —April 27, 2011
Filed in Business storytelling

I only have a few minutes to get my message across, I just haven’t got time to tell a story.”

This is a comment we often hear this when we are running one of our Storytelling for Business Leaders courses. I don’t believe having limited time, or a short amount of copy space, however is an excuse not to tell a story.

I was reminded, yet again, of how engaging, insightful and powerful a short story can be when I read an article from actress Rebecca Gibney where she was discussing her ‘six secret rules for a happy life’.

Her first rule was ‘Kindness Costs Nothing’ and she told the following story, when she was living in Sydney, to bring this to life:

“Back when they used to collect tolls by hand, I always used to pay for two or three cars behind me, because it gave me a kick,” she says. “I used to look in the rearview mirror and see the smile on their face, and I’d just think, ‘Well, maybe that’s going to make the next five minutes of their day really good’. It’s great for your soul to do that.”

Three sentences, that’s it. She has taken the abstract concept of kindness and, in a beautiful short story, made it concrete. She has shown you what she did around this value, not just told you her opinion of why kindness is important. And in a very short space she has painted a very clear picture which ‘pulled’ you into the story. Like me, could you see the people smiling in her rear view mirror?

Having limited time is no excuse not to tell a story, in fact if you have a limited amount of time, surely a story is the best way to make use of that time?

About  Kevin Bishop


  1. Sharon says:

    I love that! It’s so true, that quick little blip of a story fully planted a great *visual* (and smile) to demonstrate the message. Awesome example of how a story can happen SO fast, too! Thanks for this ~

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