Telling tales

Stefan Sagmeister is a designer and an entertaining speaker, if this brief but hilarious video of him telling a story to the FITC conference producers in Calgary is anything to go by.

In the video (which, by the way, contains some strong language) he says “It’s all the people who are not storytellers who kind of for strange reasons because it’s in the air suddenly wanna be storytellers.”

There is a valid point to be made about the over-use of ‘storytelling’ in the creative industries in particular and in business communication more broadly. Not everything is, or should be, ‘storytelling’. But Stefan is wrong to assert that only people who write novels or make feature films can legitimately call themselves ‘storytellers’.

What about people who tell stories for a living? They appear in person in front of audiences and, well, tell stories. And the reason it’s so appealing is because it’s a universal human capability, an instinctive means of communicating (let’s not get into the neuroscience here) and often, if not always, fun, or inspiring, or otherwise of value.

So the use of storytelling in other contexts, including business presentations, shopping for groceries, or trying to convince a friend to take that job or not to take that job, is not only a good thing to do, it is of course quite correct to call it storytelling when you do it. And, by definition, that makes you a storyteller.

I will be sharing some of these ideas and going further into storytelling, storyscaping, storydoing, and other more or less convincing neologisms, at the upcoming EVCOM summer event.


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