The Power of the Story in Workplace Communication

This course maps to capability:


“A human being is a story-telling machine.” - Paul Brooks

Once there was a writer who worked in an office. Her job was to write things and give presentations, but she did not feel inspired. Her output was bland and boring – she couldn’t help using words like ‘evolving’, ‘going forward’, and ‘facilitation’ in everything she did. She dumped lots of statistics and information onto her readers and listeners, who quickly lost interest. Then one day she decided to tell a story. And everything changed.

This workshop is for anyone who wants to put new energy into their workplace communication. It will show you how to harness the full power of the written and spoken word in order to inform, explain and persuade.  Good story-telling is at the heart of all effective communication. And if you are not convinced, you might like to ask yourself why government departments as disparate as the US Military Research Agency and US Environmental Protection Agency have ongoing research projects into the use of stories. Both are investing big in story-telling. Both are finding ways to apply the power of stories to connect with readers and viewers. So what makes a story? What are the commonalities of structure that link ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’? They are all great pieces of story-telling; everyone can learn from them how to engage and communicate with a reader or listener. In this workshop you will get an insight into how stories create meaning. Then you’ll learn how to apply this understanding to your own work. And in the process you may well find new energy and inspiration.                             

Course Content

  • how stories work through reader engagement - story as a primary form of communication
  • why people forget facts, but remember stories
  • why story-telling is not just for artists and performers, but for anyone who communicates
  • every picture tells a story - creating images with your words
  • turning information into story – some key strategies
  • examples of effective corporate story-telling from government and business
  • the essentials of story structure and how to use them in professional work:
    • Characterisation and the Central Character
    • Character wants and needs – and the obstacle in their way
    • Action – overcoming the obstacle
    • Unity – one key issue: no rambling content or fluff
    • Narrative arc and causality – beginning, middle, end; cause and effect
    • Back-story – the essential context and background
    • Emotional content – what you aim your reader or listener to feel
    • Theme – your central idea or message.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • invigorate your workplace communication by using story structures
  • engage and connect with a reader or listener by using story-telling technique
  • decide how and when to apply to your own work the basics of story structure
  • avoid information-dump and fact summary that do not work for an audience
  • include your reader or listener in the message you want to get across to them
  • understand how to involve emotion in order to convey your message to your audience
  • create images with words in order to communicate effectively in speech and writing.

Benefits to your organisation

  • create a shared understanding of and approach to professional communication
  • project a consistently up to date professional image through written material
  • communicate effectively with the public and other organisations through writing and speech
  • equip employees with skills to resolve their own problems around professional communication.

Benefits to you

  • clearer understanding of how communication works by creating stories
  • increased ability to work independently on writing and presentation tasks
  • increased confidence in writing, editing and presentation skills
  • increased satisfaction in all aspects of work requiring professional communication.