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Executive storytelling

Midland Metro picture used for Executive storytelling post


Executive storytelling has become more popular in the past few years. Executives have recognised the need to get their ideas across to consumers, employees and investors. The executive with a vision needs to use words and perhaps pictures to get their vision across to all stakeholders.

The NHS executive

In the NHS, consultants have been coaching NHS executives and managers on the value of storytelling to bridge gaps between the administration and patients. A story can impart more than just facts. A story can be like a work of fiction and show people a vision, not just tell them about it.

Show, not tell

Show, not tell is almost a mantra on some storytelling courses and espouses the notion that fiction should show the reader what is happening through vivid descriptions, rather than a statement of facts. Show, not tell can be used to show  stake holders the executive vision of the future.

Keep it plausible

A story should be believable and so it shouldn’t be a complete work of fiction. The reader should actually believe what they are reading. It can have anecdotal elements to it as well. I started this article with a picture, which I can use to tell a story. I went out in freezing conditions yesterday to take photographs for my photography article on Wednesday. I met one of the tram drivers who told me a lot about the tram line and the new trams and how the older ones are destined for a museum. It was cold and I had donned my thermal wear, underwear, hat and fingerless gloves. Humour in a story is helpful to keep the reader entertained and my anecdote could include how the thermal underwear made my jeans so tight on one occasion, they split down my backside! A colourful expletive would work there too! Stories should be entertaining, as well as informative.


The analogy is useful in storytelling and not just writing about, but thinking about a particular executive function. Take leadership for example, it takes many forms, but the analogy of leading children through woodland could be used to demonstrate that leadership is about showing the way not just telling them the way. Leadership is about recognising that the children are in unfamiliar territory and might wander off or get left behind. They would also have anxieties about the threats that could lurk in the woodland and need reassurance.

Keep if simple

When I get to the end of writing this article, I have to check it for errors and publish it on the internet. I have to try to make sure readers can find it using search engines and consider whether it’s suitable for readers of different cultures. It will also be automatically checked on a scale for simplicity, to make sure it’s easy to read. Not all the readers will have English as their first language.

Writers and coaches

The skills of writers are often undervalued and underused. Many writers will coach executives or edit their stories to make them more acceptable to the stakeholders. A professional editor can make the format easier to understand, correct grammar and so on. Executives can also use ghost writers, to write material for them. The executive blog is also a medium many executives are using to tell their stories and communicate with their staff, customers and investors.

A blog is also interactive, so if you have something to say, please share your thoughts and questions in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter. Could you use some storytelling skills?

One Response

  1. Pingback: Food Bank Britain: Breaking Bread | Mike10613's Blog

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