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Storytelling Workshop at Ready by 21 Conference Yields “Bushelsfull” of Rewards

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Featured, Who's doing what works | 0 comments


Editor’s note:

Never underestimate the power of keeping score.

Here we are with the promised payoff from Patrick Boyle’s lively session in Atlanta. Not a big crowd, but a terrific payoff for attendees who eagerly shared stories of success and lessons learned.

Senior Editor Ray Schultz recently spoke with Patrick, and provided this summary report.

—Hershel Sarbin, Editor

Patrick Boyle Storytelling Session Was a Hit

Patrick Boyle

Patrick Boyle

As we predicted, children’s advocates got some good input on storytelling in March when Patrick Boyle spoke at the Ready By 21 National Meeting in Atlanta.

The room was filled and it stayed filled. Even better, people were eager to apply what they had learned. One attendee used storytelling in his organization’s next meeting. Another sat down with Patrick for a private consultation. And there were several email follow ups.

As he usually does in talks, Patrick focused on the 3 basic steps of storytelling:

  • Recognizing the story.
  • Collecting and telling the story.
  • Distributing the story.

“There was a lot of discussion about the middle point,” Patrick said. “People chimed in with their own stories. We went around the room. Some had good stories; others do not quite know what a good story is or how to tell it.”

As part of this exercise, Patrick helped an attendee build a 600 word story. A group of government agencies teamed up on ways to use $200 million to prevent teen pregnancy. Should they focus on the teamwork angle—or on the end result?

One problem was that the person gave “a typically bureaucratic explanation of what it was.” Patrick’s advice? “Tell it from the reader’s point of view, not your point of view.”

He continued that “you should not have to shovel all the information right up front. Tell the stories in layers.” Patrick also offered these tips about storytelling:

  • Focus the story as narrowly as possible.
  • Give results—“People tune out pretty quickly if they think they are reading just another sob story.” You need concrete evidence that you are having a big impact.”
  • Be honest: Do not inflate your success. It takes years to have an aggregate impact. “Stop getting uptight because you haven’t invented fire yet.”

Read our previous entry on Patrick and his work.

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