Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Every Business Needs the Power of Storytelling

“But I don’t need corporate storytelling, it has nothing to do with my work.”

I was in a city across the country from me and I was teaching the corporate storytelling version of my “Storytelling 101" presentation for a large company. The training had been designated as a “not mandatory but we want you to be there” event, so some people came to the meeting just a bit hostile.

During the break, I was, umm, sitting in the bathroom and behind a closed door. That’s all I will say about that. Just know that those who came in could not see me. Two other men entered the bathroom and as they washed their hands, they began to talk about how “stupid” it was for them to be there at storytelling training. “What do I need corporate storytelling for?” the first man asked the other and continued with other gripes.

I stepped out of the place I was sitting which I think shocked the first guy. Perhaps surprised to see me and a bit embarrassed about griping about the speaker behind his back, the first man then started in on me about “what could a storyteller teach me?”

Washing my hands, I asked him, “So, what do you do here?”

He then went on to explain that he directed the process where the company secured new buildings. He told me about how they have to help the decision makers understand how the building will be used, not just how much it costs. He then told me about one particular building they acquired that was now used to help families work through long-term illness saying, “What a difference it makes in the lives of people.” The pride of his work was clearly reflected in his conversation.

I said, “You know, that was a great story you just told me.”

He stopped, took a long look into the mirror and sighed. He knew I had caught him in the proof that every area of every business uses storytelling. He knew that he had just used storytelling to tell me about his work.

This executive looked right at me, mumbled, “Oh, (censored)” and walked out the door.
My new corporate friend was very attentive the rest of the training session.

No matter what your company is about, I would be honored to train you and your staff in the power of corporate storytelling. Please let me know how I can help you.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.


  1. Lovely! You sure that whole thing wasn't staged?;) Seriously, though, I appreciate stories that demonstrate how useful storytelling is.

  2. LOL, no that is the way it happened. Unlike some national storytellers, when I tell a personal story, it's true. I've only changed a piece or two to protect the identity of the person involved.

  3. Is this story now going to be your kickoff for all your corporate gigs?

    Or will you save it for your closer to cinch the bookings on your conversations with potential clients?

  4. It's an old story, more fluid than "put part A in slot B".