Bringing Storytelling to the Classroom

How do you get people to tell their stories? That was the first question a student asked as I showed the importance of #storytelling to two communications classes at Aurora University.

I pulled out our K+L Storytellers signature multi-colored beach ball, had the students stand up and I asked a single question. What is something about you that nobody here knows? I tossed the beach ball to the first student, who ducked allowing the ball to bounce off the unprepared student behind him. (That’s why we use a beach ball instead of a baseball.)

Speaking to a communications class at Aurora University about the importance of storytelling in business.

Speaking to a communications class at Aurora University about the importance of storytelling in business.

Around the room the beach ball flew to the next storyteller. One young student has lived on her own since she was 17. Another collected exotic animals, including an alligator. A third has traveled to more than 20 countries.

The final catcher of the beach ball was instructor Franklin Rivera, who led 44 men into battle upon his graduation from West Point and is also related to former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.

In the second class, students were asked about their No. 1 obsession. The responses ranged from music to cars to sports to fluffy cats.

The exercise was fun, and it especially kept the 8 a.m. class awake. Asking questions leads to storytelling. And by continuing the line of questioning, we began to understand each person’s unique story.

K+L Storytellers takes a similar approach with middle market, culture-driven companies that want to better understand and project their stories, both internally to improve culture, and externally to increase brand awareness.

Like many college students, companies have short-term goals and long-term vision. Sharing stories with emotion and authority provides a trust with the audience, which is a foundation for increasing sales.

Spinning a few Dad jokes aside, what was some of the feedback of our classroom experience?

·         Ebony Scott, a junior marketing major, said marketing professionals “have a responsibility to depict clients in the way they want to be represented and how they would want their stories to be told.”

·        Senior Dirk Schoger.said, “Your lecture on storytelling was interesting and informative. The material and the stories you had to share with the class were very engaging, which is proof of the effectiveness of a good story.”

Nice to know our future storytellers are poised and ready to bring their stories to the world.