A few years ago I had the chance to go a fabulous little non-conference. It cost about $300 and I got more out of that one day than I usually get out of a 2 day megalith of a conference.

One of the presenters talked story telling. The presentation was engaging and amazing and I fell in love with the concept of organisational story telling right then and there. I still remember the story of the brussel sprouts. A leader had used this story to help teams get the parts of their job that were most challenging out of the way first. Eat your brussel sprouts first! That’s the power of storytelling. It’s years later and I can still remember it.

I loved the idea so much I was able to invite the presenter to an internal conference to talk to our leaders and introduce them to the idea. Through effective story telling we can open the heart, and as we reinforce that story through our actions, words and what happens next we win the head.

Humans have been telling stories for millennia. Stories told for generations before they were written down are still shared today. How many times have you walked out of the cinema with a tear in your eye because a movie made you feel? Or the sense of loss some people feel when they finish a book because you’ve connected with the character and reached the end of the journey with them (yes that happens to book nerds, don’t judge).

Yet it is a learned skill. While some seem to be born story tellers the rest of can learn how to spin a good yarn.

A good story is authentic. It’s personal enough to say something about you, but not so personal it’s embarrassing to those listening. It leaves people feeling they gained a little insight into you, or connected with you on a deeper level. The story doesn’t have to be big or grand. Brussel sprouts are barely the size of a ping-pong ball. It does have to be the right story for your audience. Sharing the story of how you fired your housekeeper for being late when you’re talking to your employee who is a single parent and struggling to make ends meet probably isn’t going to create the connection you’re hoping for.

When has a great story won you over? What’s the story that sticks in your head?

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