Category: Storytelling training & case studies

How to train people in making and telling stories, with some inspirational examples

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling marketing for the Santiago Way’s pilgrimage

One of the worldwide famous life-changing experience destination is the Santiago Way, a pilgrimage route that revived two decades ago from the middle age. It was first developed through the local Government’s investment in hospitality facilities and promotion, and from then on through word of mouth and high-profile storytelling, including many films.

Even if the experience concept is apparently simple –mostly considering that most pilgrims do not have religious motivations-, it turns to be a memorable social experience where you meet people from all walks of life, from all nationalities and ages, but in all cases everybody has an open mind and a noble heart, unlike most of us are used to in our daily lives. Unlike most other holiday concepts, this one is essentially a social experience which is totally flexible in the way that you can start and finish when and where you prefer to, and you can improvise your journey every day.

The intense conviviality along the whole journey when walking and once arrived in the destination hostel sets the stage for multiple kinds of stories about friendship, self-discovery and awareness, transferring wisdom, and love, among many others that you can imagine.

Such a life-changing experience scenario has inspired many celebrities in writing books and making films. Such is the case of Paulo Coelho –Brazilian bestseller author- with his book “El Peregrino de Compostela”, which brought a considerable flow of Brazilian pilgrims; or Hape Kerkeling –German Showman- with his book and film “I’m off then” which also brought large flows of German visitors. Other cases are Shirley Maclaine with her book “The Way” or Charlie Sheen in a film with the same name. This is a benchmark case study to illustrate how life-changing experiences inspire stories up to high-profile storytelling.

Nowadays, the local DMO do not need to invest in promotion anymore. The storytelling machine works itself and The Way has revived many areas which were literally abandoned. Beyond the main route, where all these media stories take place, many other Santiago Ways have been developed taking advantage of The Way’s enthusiasts boom, thus reviving the other historical pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela coming from different points of the Iberian Peninsula.

Do you know of other similar cases?

Culture changeMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The transformational power of storytelling: raising social consciousness

Similar to what happens with the self-awareness to know ourselves better, storytelling training also manages to shift our mindset and arouse a higher sense of social consciousness and connect with the values of our human spirit. In this process of gaining awareness and maturity, we frequently discover our wish to contribute to social causes and when we drive this will to action, we find out the fulfilling power of creating positive impacts in our community. Then it is when we are again on the way to becoming a better version of ourselves. There have been identified three main types of social transformation:

  • Cultural transformation. Listening to personal stories about unknown realities about which we often have many misconceptions works like an eye opener and eventually also as a mind shifter. When we listen to stories about stigmatized issues or taboo topics we are likely to discover many hidden aspects of that reality which may change our opinion, and therefore our attitude towards people related to that social group changes, and social value change begins.
  • Community building. Sharing community based stories may serve as a basis for discussion on community challenges and concerns affecting a significant proportion of its members. Such discussions may be the starting point for mapping out strategic guidelines to take action and address these issues. In this case, storytelling workshops help build solidarity among community members and join efforts, thus creating a deeper sense of community belonging.
  • Call for the need of policy enforcement. In line with the aforementioned community or social problems, stories told by people suffering these problems raise awareness about the need for more effective policies to tackle such challenges or just call for the need for further enforcement in the application of the current policies. Storytelling helps by giving a voice to the often overlooked minorities or discriminated groups that need further care and protection.

All these exposed life-changing effects are at the core of the value proposition of destinations approaching the Vision of Tourism 3.0, as a vital part of the mission and also as strategic experiences that empower and move people to join in the efforts in the mission pursuit. Such social motivations could be the ones to motivate the local community to learn the art of storytelling, which then could be used for destination marketing purposes.

Do you think of other ways through which storytelling may foster social consciousness?

Culture changeMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studies

The transformational power of storytelling: self-discovery, transferring wisdom and healing traumas

Transfer of values and wisdom. As traditional storytelling has done throughout the centuries, stories are conveyors of cultural values and wisdom. Stories illustrate the consequences of doing good versus the consequences of doing bad, teaching the rules of life that conform to popular wisdom. The compelling power of good stories is the best guarantor of effectively transferring both the community values and knowledge. This wisdom and value transfer could be the object of Storytelling training programs for school students, for instance.

Self-discovery and awareness. By sharing and listening to other people’s stories, participants have the opportunity to reflect on the reasons why things happened and the key learning outcomes they can take away from that experience. As introduced in previous sections, telling stories about our lives is also an opportunity to gain knowledge and awareness about who we have been, who we are and who we are to become. Personal story work is as much a creative process as it is a mindfulness development process.

This brings us emotional, intellectual and moral clarity to make important decisions and envision our possibilities. Again, to get the most of this process, it has to be carried out in a group, as it is by being listened to and by listening to other people’s comments that we gain such awareness. When we tell our story, we convey the kind of person we are as much as the tale itself. At this point, by listening to understand contrary points of view the teller gains maturity and awareness.

Healing personal traumas. The sole fact of being truly listened to when telling a personal traumatic story releases pain and changes people’s lives. Then, storing the trauma in a box called story helps the teller in stepping away from the trauma and regarding all the suffering from outside, as what happens when doing meditation. By telling the story, the teller releases all the negative energy and feelings that were kept inside, and this works like a magic healing therapy that helps to store the trauma in a corner of our memory and leave empty space for positive feelings and experiences to come in.

How do you think that these transformational powers may be applied to destination experiences?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studies

The transformational power of storytelling: skill development

Beyond the goal of learning how to tell stories, storytelling training has often had other benefits of a very different nature. In the research and reflection process for the elaboration of this Whitepaper, up to five different types of outcomes have been identified:

  • Skill development
  • Transfer of values and wisdom
  • Self-discovery and awareness
  • Healing personal traumas
  • Raising social consciousness

Skill development. Storytelling encourages and empowers people to develop many capacities that are unused or underdeveloped, most of the time due to cultural factors. There are three main kinds of abilities to consider at this point:

  • Communication and leadership skills. An important part of the workshops is learning to communicate through writing, visual and audio contents, and public speaking. This is a very comprehensive set of skills that helps participants in communicating more effectively in the various challenges they are to face in their lives. For kids to develop their assertiveness and expressivity, communication abilities are a key to overcome the different challenges we are to face throughout life. For adults, to develop leadership skills is to empower them in becoming change leaders in developing
  • Listening skills. Equally important as speaking skills, effective communication needs the development of listening abilities. Understanding others is the first step to formulate an effective message for our listeners. Effective communication consists of a two way flow of information, and humans need to be listened to and understood to open their hearts and minds, to then understand the people they are talking with. Further, as explained in many passages, listening is necessary to learn from others, and in storytelling this is essential.
  • Artistic skills. Crafting stories is an art, and therefore storytelling training provides the chance to develop artistic skills. This is usually an under-developed ability due to the constraints of the education systems and some cultural factors. Both the art of self-expression and creativity are important skills to develop, especially for the professional life and generic problem solving. In the case of kids, developing imagination helps them build the capacity to envision innovative approaches when facing problems, which contributes to their self-confidence as they regard themselves capable of tackling more challenges.

What other skills could be developed through storytelling?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling training process: assembling the pieces and reviewing the story

When all the audio and visual pieces have been found or created, it is time to first decide how to structure the story, and then to put them together with the narrative to see how they work. This is composing the script and storyboard. Next, as long as the story is edited and the result of the assembling is evaluated, it is time to decide what pieces of content to add, to change or to withdraw. All the details are important in order to compose a consistent and smooth storytelling experience, effectively conveying all the intended emotions and messages.

Another key element to consider before drafting the storyboard is the order of delivering each fact of the story, which does not necessarily have to be chronological. At this point, the storyteller can play with the sequence to create more suspense by leaving unanswered questions and unrelated pieces that challenge the audience to guess how the story will trigger.

Then, in the scripting and storyboarding phase the teller decides the layout in which the visual, audio and narrative pieces are combined. The way that these different types of content are combined allows the audience to make connections without need for specific explanation. This process of understanding connections through the combination of visuals, audio and narrative content is called closure, and the challenge of the teller at this point is to find the optimal combination of pieces to provide the maximum closure.

After the pieces assembly, there comes the decision about the pacing, as long as this contributes to the story meaning, bringing emphasis at critical moments. Further, pace also conveys an added layer of meaning: that of calmness versus urgency. Spaces of calmness help the audience to digest all the previous events and have the ideas more clearly understood.

When the assembling is completed, it is time to review the outcome and contrast it with the initial purpose with which you started the process. Furthermore, consider the context information that you may need to provide the audience with, and reconsider the purpose of the story if necessary. Depending on the type of audience and the setting where the story is to be delivered, there is more or less need for contextualization. On the other hand, during the process of crafting the story, new ideas about the messages and purpose may come to the teller’s mind, so there has to be a time to seriously reflect on this.

It is important to note the convenience of doing this process in a group, where every teller works on his or her story, but interacts with other tellers and shares their experience, which ultimately inspires them and helps them to focus properly.

Would you consider other tips in the assembly and review stage?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling training process: finding visual supports and audio content

In the case of the Digital Storytelling, the next step is to find images or videos to support the story. To do so, storytellers have to first describe the images that come to their mind when recalling the story, understand the messages and emotional contents embedded in every image, find or create such images or videos, and combine them with the written or audio content in the best way to convey the intended message and emotions.

When combining the visual contents you have to be aware that they are creating additional layers of meaning. It is preferable to use real visuals, but if these are not available, the teller can also create images or videos faithfully reproducing the scenes of the story. At this point, the storyteller has to be aware of all the messages that the visual content is likely to convey, as the communication power of visual content is far superior to that of the written.

At this stage, the emotional tone of the story should have been identified, and therefore the teller should have a clear idea of the adequate audio content to combine with the other content, or at least it should be easy to discern whether a certain type of audio content may or may not be suitable to convey the intended tone and emotions. The way the voice-over is performed, the ambient sound and the music are the three kinds of audio content to play with.

In digital stories, the voice of the teller not only conveys the narrative but also the way he or she lives the story experience and his or her personality. The teller adds a significant layer of meaning and has the power of arousing emotions. To play with this added layer of meaning, it is also useful to consider not only the right choice of words but also other resources such as the use of incomplete or broken sentences that have the power to help the audience understand how the narrator –who is often the main character – is feeling about the scene.

In considering the addition of ambient sound, it is recommendable to start by adding as little as possible and see if this added layer of sound enhances or spoils the story. In the case that it enhances it, you may try to add a bit more and consider again whether to leave it, to add more or to withdraw. To choose the right sound, try to identify those that come to your mind when recalling the story in the critical moments where sound is usually added.

Music requires a similar exercise like that of the ambient sound. Music has the power to set the tone, change the perception of the visuals and even the meaning or the scene. Bear in mind that in adding both visual and audio contents, it is crucial to specifically relate every piece of content to the corresponding part of the narrative.

Would you consider other tips to enhance the integration of audiovisual contents?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studies

Storytelling training process: identifying the key insights

The storytelling training is a journey that may encompass many phases depending on the nature of the story and the purpose of the story itself. However, according to Joe Lambert from the Center for Digital Storytelling, this process may be standardized in a set of steps, each of which has its own goals. However, there is a set of goals of the whole process to be understood from the beginning of the workshop.

These main goals are to help storytellers in:

  • Finding the story they want to tell and visualize it from the outset
  • Defining that story in a written form
  • Identifying the emotions that the story generates in them and to the audience
  • Envisioning how the audience will perceive their story through digital platforms

First of all, it is necessary to reflect upon what the story means to you, what it is about, and what messages it intends to convey. To gain deeper understanding of your wish to tell the story, you should also ask yourself why you want to tell this story now, the people you are thinking about when recounting the story and whether the story shows you the way you really are or the reason why you are the way you are.

All these reflections may enlighten you with a better view on who you were, who you are and who are you going to become. It is all about examining your personal process of change from the past to identify the direction you are taking in your future and why you are taking this direction. Then, when you raise awareness of the reasons you are going in a certain direction, you get a much clearer view and give yourself the opportunity to reconsider if this is what you really want. Change stories may have two different drivers: change may be forced from outside or may be driven from inside, as a result of your free will. There are however many shades of grey to consider in this point. Reality is almost never black or white.

Storytelling is a learning process for both tellers and listeners. When listening to stories people search for answers related to their lives, and those may end up inspiring listeners to make changes in their lives. But tellers also have the opportunity to learn so long as they listen to the audiences’ comments and stories in contrast with their views, and this way may eventually fill some gaps of the initial story and upgrade the story to a new version with deeper meaning.

What other key insights do you think that should be identified?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studies

Storytelling training process: identifying the emotions and key moments

When thinking deeply about the story, there are usually many emotions associated to every story chapter. It is necessary to identify all those emotions and decide which of them you want to convey and how you want to do it. To identify the emotions embedded in the story, you may ask yourself about the emotions experienced when telling the story, and which specific facts are at the origin of such emotions.

Then, to decide the emotions to convey and how to do it, it is convenient to think about which of these emotions are likely to help the audience to better understand the story message, and whether these emotions may be transferred through the tone rather than just using expressions of feeling. Emotions are what strengthen the connection between the audience and the story, and so they are a sensitive point to deal with.

At this point, it is important to decide the most adequate sequence of emotion delivery for a better understanding of the story, and to support these emotions by facts that provide a measure of the emotional strength. To effectively convey them to the audience, it is necessary that the teller takes ownership of the emotions and feels them in the depth of his or her soul. If the teller does not believe and feel what is saying, he or she is not likely to be credible in the eyes of the audience. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider the cultural context to properly adapt the emotional content to the audience cultural codes.

To keep the audience engaged it is necessary to use the power of the turning points. There are always certain moments when a fact or a conjunction of facts triggers a domino effect to change the direction of the story. These ups and downs fuel the compelling power of the stories, and therefore it is necessary to identify them carefully in the story crafting process. Such moments have to be depicted constructing well described scenes where all the relevant details are shown. Here it is especially important to provide high quality visual support to help the audience imagine the scene.

Beyond the mentioned means, how else do you think that emotions may be conveyed when telling a story?

Culture changeMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Types of storytelling training workshops

Based on this common framework, specific workshops add and adapt contents according to their specific goals, as explained in the following points:

Story circle workshop is to help participants in crafting and sharing their personal story. This works like a personal development exercise for them beyond the acquired storytelling skills. Such workshops are usually focused on a specific issue about which the participants are especially interested and have a story to tell. This may go from very personal issues to business related issues or cultural issues. The last section of this Whitepaper “The transformational power of storytelling” goes into depth on the functioning of these types of workshops and the kinds of life-changing experiences that participants usually take away.

Change leadership storytelling workshop is to train leaders and community members in developing leadership related storytelling skills. It focuses on change and organizational stories, explaining how to tell them, who should tell them, the adequate media, the images to use to build a compelling narrative that conveys good feelings and a powerful vision. To drive change in an organization, a story really needs to stand out among other stories, and so the goal of the workshop is to help create outstanding stories.

A change leadership storytelling workshop is to deliver some specific points to take away:

  • Importance and key success factors of storytelling in organizations
  • Case studies of story successes and failures
  • How to build vision
  • Development of interpersonal skills for better team working and team building

Powerful stories manage to drive positive change in attitudes in all kinds of stakeholders. A corporate storyline has to convey where the organization is going, how it is meaningful in the members’ lives, and what it stands for. Without a storyline depicting a positive future, stakeholders are likely to feel insecure, and so acknowledging that the organization lacks a proper storyline is of great value to leaders. A good and easy-to-understand story in which all believe and feel identified is the most effective way to engage a group to work as a team.

Change stories are created to make complex changes easier to understand and accept, and can also be used to sell a vision to convince investors and other stakeholders in supporting the organizational efforts in the change process. Such stories are not crafted with creativity only. They are constructed following a thorough methodology based on a strategy plan. To be effective, they not only need a strategic approach and a logical structure, but also a clear objective and intention to evoke a specific emotion and move the audience to take a specific action. It should raise awareness about the need for change and make the audience envision the likely futures depending on the decisions made today. It should encompass various points:

  • Where do we come from? What makes us different?
  • Where do we want to go? What will the future be like upon accomplishing the stated goals?
  • What do we have to do to make it happen?

The Whitepaper “Building a culture of innovation and collaboration” is to explain in more detail all the process of culture change in the destination’s organizations.

Digital Storytelling workshops are designed to teach participants how to craft, assess and tell stories in the digital platforms. These are the workshops more closely related to the marketing storytelling, though the other two also have a significant influence in the marketing system. The specific learning outcomes of Digital Storytelling workshops may be:

  • Literal and anagogic modes of storytelling
  • Gamification of systems using storytelling
  • Storytelling through various kinds of media
  • Types of stories and their potential benefits
  • Storyboarding

Do you envision other types of storytelling training workshops?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling training workshops

Even if the opportunities to tell stories have always existed as a part of intra-community communication and more recently for marketing purposes, very few people have ever been trained to do so, including most marketers. In destinations practicing marketing 3.0, storytelling training has three main purposes:

  • Empowering and motivating stakeholders to contribute in the story creation and delivery, hence boosting the destination’s content marketing machine.
  • Providing the transformational experience that storytelling training creates in many people as a self-awareness exercise, healing therapy and development of social consciousness.
  • Developing leadership skills among the community members to empower them in becoming change leaders of the new culture to be built and the mission pursuit.
  • Educating students by transferring wisdom and values, and by developing innovative thinking, artistic and communication skills.

Storytelling training is a key tool for the development of destinations developing a marketing 3.0 approach. As aforementioned, it may have many different purposes, for it is usually adapted to the main purpose. This training is carried out through workshops.

Before planning a Storytelling training workshop it is necessary to assess well the goals of the target audience. In this regard, we may distinguish between three main types of workshops:

  • Story circle: focused on sharing personal stories about specific concerns
  • Change leadership storytelling: focused on developing storytelling skills for change leaders
  • Digital storytelling: focused on mastering the techniques for editing digital stories

Despite the different focus, the three types of workshops have some common learning outcomes. Participants learn to craft and tell stories to connect with their target audience, learning how to find the right words, rewrite, reframe and craft their story, and developing skills to convey emotions and engage their listeners. The main learning outcomes are:

  • Theoretical framework of plot and character prototypes
  • Techniques for creating and developing characters
  • Techniques for crafting a compelling narrative
  • Process for stretching stories to convey different messages
  • Techniques for public speaking and communicating in a dynamic and compelling way
  • How to use stories for different purposes such as teaching, building community, selling, etc.
  • The importance and roles of logic play, credibility and emotion for successful storytelling
  • Creative process from the brief to the delivered story
  • Quick and easy story creation formulas

Do you think of other ways to train on story making and storytelling?