I was once the narrator in a school play about Jonah and the Whale. I was deeply disappointed not to have a starring role. I didn’t get to have a robe and head dress and instead I wore my jeans and favourite leg warmers. It really wasn’t the same. I didn’t get to strut purposefully about the stage. I had to stay in the corner, at my little podium. My acting dreams were crushed.
It wasn’t until the actual performance was underway that my 8 year old brain realised, too late to enjoy it, that the narrator was actually the top spot. I got to stay on stage the whole time and actually tell the story. It was the storytelling that gave the acting context.
So what’s this got to do with Business Storytelling? Well just as in the school nativity play, it’s the narrative – the story – that connects us to our audience. This connection helps us feel empathy, create communities and embed culture.
But storytelling is still rarely a skill we recruit for.
Unless you’re Microsoft. They recruited Steve Clayton.
You might not have come across him before, but Steve is Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller. I kid you not. How cool a job does that sound?
Here’s a sketchnote I did of one of Steve’s talks:
Stories can be big and they can be small, and it can be easy to under appreciate small stories when you’re focussing on the big launch or event that’s just around the corner. A small story might not have an obvious impact, but collectively these small stories all add up to something bigger: A way of doing business that puts value in the story of the team meeting, as well as in the shiny new product launch.
Graphic Recording, or its scrappier sibling Sketchnoting, are great ways to capture your business stories visually and can be easily introduced to your organisation.
Graphic Recording turns the conversations, ideas and actions from a meeting or event into a memorable visual record. Rather than one-dimensional minutes, a graphic recording creates a story that is much more likely to be remembered and talked about. It’s a way to keep your everyday workplace stories alive, active and valued way after the meeting is over and the actual conversation is forgotten. Put simply: you’re much more likely to view, remember and retain a graphic record than written minutes.
What can I do?
In the same way that we don’t recruit storytellers, we don’t often recruit graphic recorders (though that is changing, with some organisations like Boeing, Deloitte, KPMG all now employing in-house graphikers)… so what can you do?
1. Train yourself or your team
We have self led online courses such as Visual Meetings and Visual Storytelling that will teach you some core visual tools you can start applying straight away. We also have a 2 day blended learning introduction to working more visually (Draw a Better Business), which will get a group of you up to speed with the basics.
2. Grow your own in-house graphic recorder
Graphic Recording is a great skillset to have in-house. Frankly it’s also a far more cost-effective one than paying a studio like us to graphic for you every time. There are obvious benefits to using someone who knows your business in the detail. We have a 12 week, tutor supported programme Be a Graphic Recorder that will skill your person or team up to practitioner level. Ongoing coaching and support is then available for regular check-ins and continued professional development.
3. Hire someone in
Of course you can always hire in someone like me to do the graphic recording for you. This can be a good solution for key meetings and events.
Take your Visual Storytelling further
This is just a small part of the story. There are heaps of different ways to use storytelling in your business, so here are some more storytelling resources you might find useful:
Go (back) to our Storytelling page: there are case studies, articles and further Business Storytelling inspiration there.
Visual Storytelling course
Our self led, online course with 24/7 access to lessons, blended with tutor support to answer your questions and give you feedback so you can start implementing your learning straight away. With video how-to’s, case studies, practical exercises, tools and templates, we give you 7 tried and tested methods to apply visual storytelling to your work environment. Take it solo, or train up a team of in-house Storytellers with a Team discount.
Be a Graphic Recorder Programme
Using over 15 years of professional Graphic Recording experience, this 12-week online Programme breaks down the practise of Graphic Recording into small incremental lessons full of practical exercises that will get you recording at work even whilst you’re still training. We blend the flexibility of online learning with the benefits of getting feedback on your work from and asking questions of your trainer, who’s an experienced practitioner. Includes video how-to’s, case studies, practical exercises, tools, templates and Live Classes via Video Meeting. Take it as an individual within the next small group public cohort, or train up a team of in-house Graphic Recorders with a closed Programme.