How storytelling improves presentations: tips and tales from a team communication workshop.
Extraordinary Story helped a team of employees from cxpartners improve their presentation
abilities using storytelling techniques. Over three sessions Anneliese taught them how to use
movement, voice, story to aid communication and deliver engaging and memorable presentations.
The perfect job
It was Tamlyn Driver, the employee experience director at cxpartners who called me. She
needed help getting her team to improve their storytelling skills. The spoken word is what
Extraordinary Story is all about and storytelling is a core element. I told her I could definitely
After an initial chat I understood that Tam wanted the team to discover their own styles and
gain confidence speaking in front of an audience. It was the perfect job for me. I got to work
tailoring a series of storytelling strategies to cxpartners’ needs.
Speaking with skill and style
We decided on a short course of three sessions for eight people. Each session lasting one to two hours to ensure the participants remained comfortable, fresh and engaged.
The first session focused on exploring individual storytelling styles. Everyone has their own
storytelling strengths and it’s important to recognise and play to those strengths.
We also helped identify weaknesses. In this session, one person was struggling to let their sales guard down and share a personal story. Storytelling is primarily about being natural with people and making connections. Showing a degree of vulnerability in front of an audience can help to build trust and connection.
Our second session was on story crafting. Maintaining the listener's attention is a well-known
challenge of the spoken word. We used a range of vocal, structural and emotive techniques to overcome this difficulty. We also used storyboards which is always a great hit; the team were very proud of their drawing abilities!
We explored natural presentation skills in the final session. This is where they had the
opportunity to put their story cratiing techniques into practice. We played around with gesture, pitch and tone, storytelling elements that can give presentations that extra engaging edge.
Stories from the story sessions
The Bristol team enjoyed the story sessions and started applying their newfound practical skills.
Happy with the outcome, Tam invited me to their London office to run the sessions with the
Here’s some feedback from the team about why the story sessions were useful:
“I loved how much it brought the team together. How people opened up and made themselves vulnerable. We sometimes aren't as joyful as perhaps we profess to be, and this training was a great way to live that value.”
“I liked the step-by-step approach to stretching our storytelling muscles. You have to get the audience’s attention right from the start, and then not take it for granted. This is transferable to the written word for sure. I also learned to relax and trust my instincts, because there's no way to 'intellectualise' your way to a good story when you’re telling tales live. Really challenging - but a great lesson.”
Using storytelling techniques in the workplace can throw people right out of their comfort zone. Captivating narration and artulate gesticulation are not regular fare for most people, after all. Yet, it’s amazing the effect a few sessions can have, as the team at cxpartners have experienced.
Get in touch if you're interested in developing your team.