Story Telling – more than a fashion

When you’ve been lucky enough to see story telling tools in action, moving beyond emotional reactions and instigating a change in beliefs, knowledge and practices you’re certainly motivated to take a few risks and try these approaches out in the most traditional and resistant of settings, whether in the board room of a multinational chemicals company, an international conference touching on the taboos of birth control and sexual reproductive health rights or, as in my first “formal experience” engaging with child soldiers in Liberia. In first crafting and then relating their “stories” these young men and women were enabled to share experiences with each other, build individual and collective narratives, gain confidence in an altered and more positive journey forward and, in the best of scenarios, communicate to wider group of key stakeholders.


Northern rural Liberia is hot, humid and heavy with a history of violence, conflict and poverty. Sitting on the mud floor for hours and witnessing the emotional investment and risk taking of these young people, their struggles, fears, resistance to change alongside a deep resilience was truly inspiring.


Keys pointers for a “good” story:

  1. The hook

Create tension in the story

Make sure omething is at stake – to be lost or won — for someone in the story


  1. The theme

Should be about something that is “more” than business-as-usual

The story focus and audience interests coincide

Edit – be ready to leave out some things


  1. The journey

Tell what changes during the story; the key points along the journey

Be succinct and don’t give it all away at the beginning

Get to the end and close the loop, relieve the tension

Inspire to action