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Storytelling in business and research


Part of my job as a lecturer is to teach and research. Both of these tasks involve communication skills at various levels. To teach I need to get a point across and encourage students to think. To write up research, I need to communicate (in writing) complex things like theoretical constructs. Now, maybe it’s something to do with the fact that I am Irish (gift of the ‘gab’ ), but I love to use stories to get my point across.  Why? Read on.

First, this quote says it much better that I ever could:

Storytelling (film)

Storytelling (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” ― Muriel Rukeyser

In other words, no matter where we look, who we look at, or what we look at there is a story behind it. So no matter how complex the subject matter we are trying to explain, we can can a story about it.

Second, stories are known to all cultures.

No matter where you come from, what your cultural specifics are, or even what religion your are I can guarantee that there are stories in your culture.

Third, which bring together the previous points, stories can be utilised to deliver effective messages.

For example, some leaders are good story tellers (see here ), or some really complex matters can be explained using stories (see here for how a story is used to explain the ongoing euro crisis). Or to give another example that may surprise you. The story of the Princess and the Frog is actually originally a way to explain sexuality to young ladies. They may conceive it as an ugly thing (the Frog), which pesters them regularly (for a kiss) but once they confront it head on (kiss the Frog, or throw it a wall as in the original German version) it is quite beautiful (becomes a Prince).

So what’s my point. Well, simply put tell the story. If it is a presentation, a dissertation, thesis or whatever, remember there is a story in there to be told. Trust me, if you tell the story, you’re on the way to getting your argument/point across.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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