Storytelling is a crucial aspect of every culture. From families huddled around the fire listening to the stories told by their elders, to medieval bards reciting epic poems while plucking the lute, to Hollywood films, storytelling has been a way of communicating ideas, preserving traditions, or teaching moral values.
Simply put, storytelling is the art of sharing stories. It is a social and cultural activity used to deliver a message, make sense of the world, entertain, educate, or preserve a culture. Storytelling is so versatile that can be used both in the classroom and in the boardroom. Let’s see how.
“Good stories surprise us. They make us think and feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that a PowerPoint crammed with bar graphs never can.” – Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, The Storytelling Edge
Storytelling in the Classroom
As a teaching strategy, storytelling is very effective in the classroom because it fosters the development of language skills like reading and listening as well as participation in class and an awareness of speech rhythm patterns. In fact, this is how people learn to speak their mother tongue: by listening to stories, so it makes sense that it works for learning a second language as well.
Stories provide meaningful, interactive contexts for students to learn vocabulary and structures. They are an engaging and fun way to learn. Besides, storytelling promotes critical thinking and emotional intelligence, improves communication and literacy skills, and fosters creativity and imagination.
Storytelling in the Workplace
Storytelling techniques are not confined to the classroom, they are very useful in the business world as well. Stories are more compelling and relatable than a spreadsheet with dry facts and figures. They grip the audience’s attention rather than sending them to sleep!
According to an Edelman Trust report, 3 in 4 consumers avoid advertising because they do not feel there is a real connection with a brand or product. That is where storytelling comes in. Brands use stories to connect with customers and sell their products by creating an emotional reaction. For example, a car manufacturer may appeal to feelings of freedom and safety to sell a car, rather than listing the vehicle’s characteristics.
Advertising is not the only area that benefits from good storytelling. Stories can be used in presentations or meetings with potential customers, staff, or investors, for example. Any situation where persuasion, as well as motivation, is essential.
For your story to be effective, you need to know your audience. Who are you talking to? What do you know about them? How can that knowledge about your audience help you adapt your story to it?
Set a goal. What message do you want to convey? What is the end result? Is it to persuade? Is it to educate? What do you want your audience to take away?
Be clear and concise. Do not digress, however tempting that may be; stick to the brief. Also, using specific details will help your audience paint a picture of the idea you are communicating.
Build a solid structure that holds the story together. The storyline does not have to be linear, but it must make sense.
Make your story engaging with a purposeful delivery and changes in tone, pace, and emphasis.
Storytelling in our Language Lessons
We believe in the power of stories and the effectiveness of the project-based approach, where storytelling is fundamental. Our students work on the different stages of a project, and, at the end of the course, they deliver a presentation. This approach builds confidence in speaking a foreign language.
Get in touch to find out how we can help your team develop communication skills and confidence.