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The Power of ‘I’

There is a power in telling a story in the first person. It’s only you who can share this story from this perspective, which gives the appearance of authenticity and means the story cannot easily be challenged. You also know enough about yourself to guarantee plenty of supporting detail. Crafting a story in the first person is often easier, less pressured and more likely to succeed.

An exercise
In the ‘Fish, Cable, Catapult’ game, you tell a spontaneous story, incorporating three disparate words suggested by your audience. It looks harder than it is. In fact, it’s easy to use a list to include the three words. If the three words you need to incorporate are X, Y and Z, then how about: ‘Last night I dreamed about X, Y and Z’?

Once participants realise that the quest can be accomplished so simply, the richer challenge is to incorporate all three words while keeping the story interesting as it goes along and satisfying in its entirety.

Some people rapidly come up with a plan, only to realise later that they forgot to include the third word. A more effective tactic may be to rotate the three words in your mind until each finds a place in your story.

One approach is to start with ‘I’, as we know from the reasons above that ‘I’ offers advantages that serve us well. Your memory will connect you to at least one of the words you are offered. In one variation of this activity, the challenge is to make the story as real as possible, noticing the difference that makes to the quality of story or to the ease of the person telling it. 

Another method is to start your story by setting a scene in which the three words might plausibly meet each other. ‘Crayon, Cloud, Artichoke… conjuring up a picnic.’

Storytelling is a powerful skill
There are many approaches to constructing your particular story. All offer the possibility of emergent improvisation, co-creation in your head as you speak.

This then becomes a powerful skill for you as a leader and communicator. You’ll develop the confidence to craft stories on the spot, incorporating whatever circumstances arise.

If, for example, you are asked a question about how a particular organisational policy relates to an incident that has suddenly erupted as an emergency, you’ll have had experience at threading concepts together and at weaving a coherent pattern that accommodates these disparate bed-fellows

For more details about our next Storytelling for Leaders course contact Paul@impro.org.uk

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