What Kind of Story are you Telling?

I was asked by PCMA to give a session on How Storytelling Turbocharges Event Engagement for Educon this year.  This is a topic that is woven through the work we do with meetings, events, and within teams for our clients at Engagement Unlimited, but we had never fleshed it out into something that could stand alone before.

From the moment I started working on the session the content poured out with such incredible ease.  It seemed crazy we hadn’t put something together on the topic before.  

After successfully giving the session, I realized that sometimes the most valuable contributions we have to make to our industry, to our peers, to the world, are the things closest to us that we take for granted - like this connection between engagement and stories.  This happens to our team all the time.

We are constantly stopping in our tracks to recognize that our next area of growth is to unpack what we do so we can share it with, and teach it to, others. This is true for storytelling as well.

Our story is that we create engagement.  We do it at meetings and special events and at conferences and team retreats - but we touch people along the way.  We make teams stronger.  We make people happy.  We encourage people to be the best version of themselves in any situation.

Our story is enabling others to tell their stories in the most potent way possible.  Because you can’t have a great event, a successful meeting, or an engaged team WITHOUT an interesting story.

So to craft your story, you’ve got to look at all the great elements of classic narratives and connect them directly to your event.

Sometimes you won’t have answers to some of the components right away, sometimes you might prioritize one over the other. That’s all okay, as long as you know how to you want it to end.  

The easiest way to start is to determine your objectives, because every other component will fall out of those.  This is often where we see clients fall short.  

Simple example, prioritizing marketing a destination over curating amazing education is probably not the best choice for a conference where career development and learning are the end goals.  But it would be for an incentive program rewarding top employees with an exotic trip.  It’s all about context.

In my session we also discussed how canceling certain meetings, such as a recognition event or an annual meeting, can have equally massive ramifications on the story you tell your stakeholders.  Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do…do.

There are many other facets of storytelling that you can easily incorporate in your event.  I invite you to check out my session slides here for more ideas.

In the meantime, I hope this inspires you to start thinking about your story.  It might be so second nature, so deep in your pocket, that it eludes you.  

 Don’t take your special story for granted.