What's YOUR story? Everyone has a unique story waiting to be heard. In Brilliance by Design, Vicki Halsey advises us to tell our stories because it will help people remember important concepts. Associating your ideas with stories is an effective tool that strengthens your point and is more likely to be remembered. Plus, you don't need to look too far for inspiration–just look inside of you! Tag your idea with a personal anecdote to engage the audience. But, your story is only one side of the equation. Remember to switch roles and listen to your audience as well.
Of course a Q&A style of activity is useful in interacting with your learners, but sharing stories is an effective way to connect and foster a safe learning environment. Halsey emphasizes that we should encourage participants to tell their stories, to talk about what is important to them, and to open themselves up to learning. This gives learners an opportunity to talk, and teachers a chance to develop their listening skills. Learners have the power of the steering wheel to drive the conversation. Not only can people express themselves through storytelling, but also show through listening that everyone's thoughts matter thus, connecting them at an emotional level.
Recognizing that everyone comes from various backgrounds and taking the time to hear their story is critical. If you want learners to listen to you, listen to them first! Learning about one another by sharing stories helps to break the ice and encourages a positive learning environment. Mutual understanding of each other builds trust. Then, people become more comfortable with opening themselves up to learning critical skills for success.
In essence, sharing stories creates a foot-in-the-door effect that generates the positive energy for the next activities to flow more smoothly. All it takes is your full, undivided attention. And who knows? Maybe you'll learn something new that can change your way of thinking!
Roselyn Cantu is a research assistant intern for Vicki Halsey at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is on track towards her BA in International Relations. She can be reached at