5 Tips to Help Your Team Build Storytelling Skills

By Laura Singer, Senior Communication Consultant

Storytelling is a terrific tool to engage an audience—whether that audience is a single business partner in another function or an employee population of thousands.

For most people, telling stories in a business environment doesn’t come naturally, because it requires un-learning a lot of the ways we’ve been taught to communicate in the workplace. But storytelling is a skill that can deliver huge benefits.

We’re firm believers that storytelling should start at the top, but it shouldn’t end there. In fact, all employees have the capacity to tell a good story. And with the right approach, you can help them build this muscle. Here are some tips:

  1.     Start with a workshop.

A training session is the best way to kick off your storytelling initiative. By its very nature, storytelling is a compelling workshop topic, with lots of opportunity for fun facts, engaging examples and interactivity. In a workshop, participants can learn what makes a good story and why. More importantly, workshops can give participants the confidence they need to add stories to their day to day activities, and bring the value of their work to life in a new, compelling way.

  1.     Model storytelling.

As a manager, you have to walk the talk. One of the best ways to develop storytelling skills in your team is by example. Following your workshop, have a couple stories in hand to share with your team, and  model this behavior on a regular basis.

  1.     Ensure ample opportunity to practice.

Encourage your people to integrate a story into their presentations, or write a newsletter article to showcase a recent accomplishment. Challenge them to tell a story when working on a multidisciplinary project as a way to build trust and break down silos. Practice is the best way to become a better storyteller. In fact, it’s the only way.

  1. Offer encouragement and feedback.

Not all stories will hit the mark, especially when people are starting out. Help your team members hone their storytelling skills by giving them  feedback. Start with what the storyteller did well, and then tell them where they could have made the story more compelling and memorable.

  1.     Reward and recognize excellence.

If you want to promote the use of storytelling, make sure to recognize a job well done. This sends a message to effective storytellers that you value their work. Then you can take the opportunity to share examples of what good storytelling looks like.

Would you like to reap the benefits of storytelling at work? The O’Keefe Group can help you customize and conduct storytelling training sessions to fit the needs of your organization.