Author: Sparrow Alden

You’ve done the work.  The numbers behave, the concept is sound, the model finally works like a well-oiled machine.  It’s time for your visionary idea to be communicated to the stakeholders who will invest time and money and hard work into taking this revolutionary step.

But how? How do you convey the goal in a way that compels, that inspires, that wins them over? You can see the idea clearly in your head, but how do you get it into the heads of others, so they can see it in as much vibrant detail as you do?

The answer is Storytelling. Stories communicate complex notions across audiences, across learning styles, across generational gaps.  Stories re-interpret Change as Challenge and Choice. Stories speak your vision in a way that people want to hear it. Stories are the lifeblood of human communication—even in the workplace.

As the instructor for the Signum Path Storytelling course, I’m passionate about helping people to build their toolboxes out of skills they’ve encountered their whole lives, even when they may not realize it. I help students to recognize and strengthen the storytelling skills they already know how to deploy, and I teach them new tips and tricks from the storyteller’s playbook: things like creating a compelling character; reverse engineering from desired outcome to necessary set-up; and considering the audience’s perspectives and goals. Instead of being passively entertained or informed by these skills, students who join this course become true storytellers, deliberately developing their toolbox and practicing these skills for application in the business world.

We cover a lot in the four weeks we’re together. Readings from this course encourage students to ask, “What was that article’s effect on me and how did the writer do that?” Video mini-lectures guide students to explore new ways of putting stories together. Each week, I deliver two seminars combining discussion, questions, and group story-creation challenges. Weekly short assignments allow students to polish the skills they’ve developed.

If you’re a human working with other humans, you need to learn to tell stories, and to tell them well and compellingly. Encourage the people who are about to roll up their sleeves with the tale of how your new project will accomplish their goals. Build corporate culture with a narrative about the foundational ideas and accomplishments of your team.  Inspire investors with the vision—not of abstract ideas and numbers, but of a clear story about just what could happen when they join the adventure.

About the Author

Sparrow Alden is a preceptor and student advisor at Signum University. Sparrow graduated from Bowdoin College in 1986 with a BA in English Literature and Psychology and from Signum University in 2015 with an MA in Language and Literature. She is an adjunct professor of English at the River Valley Community College. As an independent scholar, Sparrow presents her digital humanities perspective on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien through her blog, Words That You Were Saying, and through papers at the Mythmoot and Tolkien in Vermont conferences.

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