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Story Telling in Training



I need to write a half day workshop on Story Telling to increase/enhance the delivery style of our group of Trainers and would be grateful for any hints and tips/advice/artciles/suggested reading material or anything else that would help.

Specially around; Benefits to using stories, engaging the brain, how this enhances the learning, how to construct/tell stories, linking in specific work activities to content.

Many Thanks in advance


13 Responses

  1. Stories

    Hi Neil

    I wrote a Knowledge Management course and as Storytelling is one of the sharing practices I had a 1hr session on "How to tell a story"

    Heres how it goes…

    • Delegates in 2’s
    • Each "2" gets a handout with an opening of a story…all different…ie "There was a knock on the door and they already knew who it was"…or "They turned on the lunchtime news and couldn’t believe what they saw"
    • 20 minutes to write the story
    • Re group
    • Re Distribute stories so nobody has their own
    • Give each group of 2, 4 highlight pens in different colours
    • They now mark each others work by colour code…(Highlight the parts of text that are…) Orange = Most Interesting sentences,  Blue = Least Interesting sentences, Green = Best Words, Red = Worst Words
    • Give back to original 2’s
    • If you have time you could re write the stories using the suggestions from the markers…

    You will see a pattern emerging where most of the interesting stuff is in the middle (happens every time) and they need to think about beginnings and endings and having the engaging stuff at the start and end etc etc…Discuss most engaging stories and what they saw as examples of good storytelling etc They will also find they really enjoy writing the stories so it will be a good opener for the rest of your session…lots more to discuss but sure you get the idea!

    I have cards and handouts if you need to see what they look like…


    Good luck





  2. “Story Telling”?

    Personally I’d try to steer clear of the phrase ‘story telling’; perhaps it is my age but it all sounds a bit "jackanory" to me; by all mean go for the same topic under the name of case studies, analogies, anecdotes allegories, parables, fables or something similar but please save me the "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…." image.

    I used to use an exercise called "My Most……." where we would brainstorm a list of discriptive words for experience; boring, exciting, terrifying, educational etc.  Then each person gave a two minute "presentation", telling the story of their most…………..experience, then we carried out a "test" to see how much of the content the audience could recall.  It wasn’t done for the same purpose as you want it but it proved the value of "story telling"

    I hope this helps


  3. Story

    You make a good point Russ.

    The end result is a SME writing an "article" as they wouldn’t even answer the e mail to write a "story"…

    However, for the purposes of a training course the "story" analogy works really well as they will be much more descriptive trying to make their story "interesting"

    If they were asked to write a technical article on the course it would be lots of facts and figures and no Princesses or Hairy Spiders…the point is…if you can do about "this" you can use the same principals for "that"

    The end result is a "technical article" written as a "story" so its more interesting and therefore more widely read and more useful…

    Done it many times now and it really works with even the most rufty tufty non storytellers



  4. Classic Book

    At the risk of not adding anything new: Margaret Parkin’s Tales for Trainers will answer all your questions. The book’s been around for ages so you might find a copy in your library. There is also a kindle version. Good luck!


  5. Pocketbook

    Hi Neil

    As a ‘starter for ten’ on some of the points you want to cover, you may find the Storytelling book from the Management Pocketbook series a great little intro. 

    Once you also give one or two examples of what a ‘story’ sounds and looks like, it should also give the course participants awareness that this isn’t about some ‘airy-fairy’ concept, but a vital tool to engage people – dealing with the ‘Jackanory’ problem that one of the other contributors also mentioned.

    Good luck!


  6. Stories

    Hi Neil,

    I have just run a quick training session this morning on a small regulation within the insurance industry.  I used a story to illustrate why we have the regulations in place.  I got one of the staff to read it out loud to the others which appeals to delegates with visual and auditory preferances.  I also put an image on the presentation and what they were reading to help appeal to the image brain.  This worked really well and demonstrated the point perfectly.  I learnt this from completing my CIPD and from The Accelerated Learning Handbook by Dave Meir. 

    Stories can be used to illustrate a technique, how an order is processed, how a manufacturing process works etc.  Stories give a ‘human interest’ into the subject matter.  I used a celebrity name in this mornings training which worked well.






  7. Stories

    You might find this link useful as it describes the use of story-telling:

    I used stories in aircraft maintenance training to enhance a key point; giving substance by describing real life scenarios that I had encountered. This often encouraged others to add their own stories as well.

    I have also used it in Human Factors in aircarft maintenace training; it started with the story of an aircrash and used video clips to expand on the story and to ‘set the scene’…powerful stuff!  

  8. A couple of thoughts

    Firstly as a trainer/facilitator with a recent avid interest in stories, I had ‘The Magic of Metaphor – 77 Stories for Teachers, Trainers & Thinkers’ recommended to me by a friend recently which might prove interesting to you.  It is full of stories that can be used by trainers, but also has a good Intro about the uses of storytelling, the art of, etc.

    Your request for resources also made me think of ‘Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century’ by Colin Rose which may also provide some insight into ‘engaging the brain, how this enhances the learning’

    Finally I’ve read a few books recently that are essentially leadership lessons wrapped up in stories… ‘The Guide’ by Will Holden & ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ by Robin Sharma as well as another of Robin Sharma’s books ‘The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari’ which has 2 stories – one the story of ‘the monk’ & a story of a sumo wrestler which is used similarly to an acronym to help the reader remember the principles.

    By the way… I like the use of the word ‘story’ – I’m finding that people are interested in stories – although I’m talking about them in terms of sharing stories in order to connect , not asking them to make up stories.

    Would be interested in knowing more about what you create if you’re willing to share… ūüôā


  9. Using stories to aid learning


    We have Alex Simson, a storyteller and trainer from Storywell running a workshop on 30th March on using stories to aid learning at our Trainers Exchange event.  It’s open to anyone in the L&D profession and is always a fabulous day with loads of learning, sharing and fun.  We also have a workshop on evaluating training, and one on mindfulness.  More details are at


  10. Another good illustration of story telling for Leadership/Manage

    An old classic – yet still very effective…  ‘Fish’!   Good luck,  Stephanie

  11. Thank you for your wonderful suggestions

     Thank you soo much for all the great suggestions, I’ve invested in a couple of books already and looked at everything sent, some really great stuff.Pllease keep them coming.





  12. Personal stories

    Hi Neil

    I think that reflecting on times when you’ve really held the attention of a room ‘in your hands’ is useful.  In my experience, it’s very often when telling a story.  Particularly a personal story or one that has an emotional connection.

    There is some (limited) research that shows story teller and listener brains begin to sychronise in activity:

    Having real, tangilbe examples of use of stories in business could be helpful.  One way I have used story telling is in supporting people in job applications.  How does your story match with the story of the company/role you are applying for?  Then used this to create engaging covering letters and ‘stories’ to tell at interview.

    Best wishes


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