Communication

Storytelling: And Bang!

“And Bang! I hit my face on the computer”, my two-year old niece said as she told me the story about how she got a large bruise on her cheek.

I looked over at my brother, and he explained that she had added the Bang! into her story the other day. She kept it because people loved it.

Leaders use stories to transmit values, share knowledge, foster team work, express vision initiate action, and to model behaviour.  They are important tools for leaders, as they enable us to provide concrete expressions of very abstract ideas.  Stories also allow us to engage with the members of our group in a more personal way.

Stories need to have a purpose.  We don’t tell stories in a leadership context for fun or entertainment. We can’t be self-centred when telling stories. If the story is just about you and doesn’t add anything to the organization, then it’s just about having an audience.  

Great stories have peaks and valleys, highs and lows.  Great stories get the audience to go along for the ride. And hopefully, they will go along for your organizational ride. Great stories have a “Bang” somewhere along the way.  Something that makes you laugh, gasp or cry. That gets you to believe in the purpose of the story.

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2 replies »

  1. Funny…..although the BANG! is a good and intriguing idea, I preached for twenty years and failed to think of it once; nevertheless, since the church I served was historic and visitors came from everywhere, I got satisfying feedback from people all over the world…..promises from people who hadn’t been to church for years, that they would return, once they got home….invitations to officiate at far-away weddings, or to preach at ordinations…..sudden changes of heart: “You WOMAN preachers aren’t so bad after all…..” :-). I suppose that my own BANG was plain old hard work: the prescribed hour of work and sweat for every one minute of preaching. In short, one sermon, 15 minutes = 15 hours of writing beforehand. Weekly, the text on which I preached was a given. It was the same text being preached in Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, plus many Protestant pulpits all over the world. I could research the text for hours. Even so, at the outset, I seldom knew what I wanted to say and too often, I’d sit down at the keyboard and write…..(Expletive deleted!) I Don’t Feel Like Writing This Sermon!…..after which i would stay in place,complaining for a quarter-hour. Sometimes, in that brief space, the bare hint of an idea would present itself. Sometimes, nothing. I’d have to go on writing…..another fifteen minutes, another hour….two hours. But almost always, by the second draft, I’d know what I wanted to write and it was a downhill slide from there; in a word ,it was joy. That’s the BANG, I suppose. By the fourth draft, the sermon was polished and done — half birth-pangs, half joy. That’s writing, especially when there’s a deadline but, in general, that’s writing. The foregoing is a technique I learned from Peter Elbow in WRITING WITHOUT TEACHERS, a book I powerfully recommend, not only for those of us who want to write but also for those who have to write. By the way, there were two more important steps that I employed every week: 1) I prayed a fair amount and 2). When I was done with everything else, I read the sermon to the tape recorder and played it back…..the final step was excellent for catching jokes that flopped, blunders or statements that drew laughter but were not jokes, and plenty more — enough to make the extra minutes worth the time. I hope that these words have been helpful to someone, and thanks for listening.

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