Storytelling is about developing and visualising a company’s or an organisation’s own narrative about themselves and their business. It involves putting the emotional elements of their work and personal experiences into words. The stories need to be dramatized to ensure they come to life and are not too long. You can engage a person with storytelling skills to guide participants on how to do this or alternatively use examples of short stories in books, online, etc. Storytelling is at its best when it involves oral stories based on reality.

Target group: Broad, flexible.

Preparations: Contact a person skilled in storytelling and who is also interested in research. Invite researchers to a workshop to produce stories to illustrate their research. It might be about a personal experience that explains why they are undertaking research into a particular topic, something that was shared during a research interview or an experience in the field.

The stories can then be used in a broader workshop where researchers share their stories with invited participants, who may also gain inspiration from the storytelling method. The participants’ own stories can be worked on in groups. The stories must be true and based on associations that arise from listening to the scientists’ stories. The researcher(s) could sit with the groups or walk around answering questions. Then all participants are brought together to share their stories with each other. You could write the titles up on flipcharts and then record the stories being told with a video camera or mobile phone.

Challenges: Listening to the stories about research might limit the participants’ creativity and lead them to focus on coming up with a certain type of story. Emphasize that it is all about personal associations, what comes to mind for them personally when they hear the stories. There are no wrong stories because it is about personal experience. Those who work with certain storytelling methods may strictly follow a certain format. This might cause friction when using this more flexible approach of storytelling. Ensure that the expert is open to trying new approaches and adapting the concept to accommodate stories about research. Give the researcher and storyteller an opportunity to talk together properly and agree that it is not just about the method but also about arousing people’s interest in research.

Benefits: A good way to contextualise research results and create a dramatic narrative around them. Participants are able to relate to the research and consider how it affects their lives.

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