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The practice of relating personal recollections, impressions, perspectives, observations, and interpretations, typically with the aim of conveying a particular series of events that collectively convey a message that is of use to the listeners


Civilization has spread and advanced through the gathering of people to orally share perspectives and interpretations of events in their lives and in the lives of others. From such activities, ‘stories’ have emerged that have been transferred beyond the original gathering in both oral and written forms. This practice is used in business and industry to transmit tacit knowledge orally and to develop learning histories that can then be utilized extensively for a variety of purposes.

Source: Planning and Execution of Knowledge Management Assist Missions for Nuclear Organizations

Purpose & benefits

Storytelling is the original way to transfer knowledge, it weaves a narrative that people can engage with, instead of just facts and figures.


Storytelling is sometimes referred to as a narrative or story.

Implementation guide

There are a wide variety of techniques and activities to help aid in the Storytelling process; which one to choose depends on the purpose of the initiative, and who your audience and participants/stakeholders are.

There is a good discussion and outline of the things to consider here: Storytelling design as well as other resources listed in the #External links and references section below.

Regardless of the specifics of the situation and the purpose and desired outcome your story will need a setting, characters, a point of tension, subsequent actions, and the resolution. This structure exists whether you are telling the story of a fairy tale or the lessons learned from a project.

Success factors

  1. Know your audience
  2. Share the context of the story
  3. Prepare your story so that it has a setting, characters, a point of tension, subsequent actions, and the resolution

Common pitfalls

  1. Sharing too much detail about what happened: your audience doesn't need to know every detail, understand and share what are the critical part of the story.
  2. Sharing what happened in the order it happened: start with something exciting, e.g. what happened at the end, or when you almost gave up, and then share the relevant parts of the story from there. People need something to get them interested from the start.
  3. Surprise endings: the ending/conclusion should lead logically from the story that proceeded it, there should be no surprises.
  4. Not knowing your audience: know who you are talking to, and what their interest is in your story
  5. Do not use unfamiliar jargon and acronyms
  6. Do not leave out valuable context, your audience needs to be able to follow the story to the end
  7. Remember to allow for discussion

External links and references

  1. Storytelling on Wikipedia
  2. TED talks on Storytelling
  3. Story Center
  4. StoryCorps (There is also an app that can be downloaded to a phone/tablet to aid in the story capture process, available for iPhone/iPad and Android: link to app)
  5. Leader's Guide to Storytelling by Steve Denning
  6. Identifying Communities of Practice through Storytelling

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