Jigsaw just introduced a new teambuilding program to teach employees how to craft and tell a story.

A funny thing happens when you ask engineers to send you their best stories.

They email you case studies. The problem is that case studies aren’t stories – they don’t have narrative, or emotionally engaging ties, or often, low level details.

These things are important because storytelling is emerging as a significant tool for not only sales, but also communicating best practices, sharing culture or defining brands.

The secret to better sales and engagement – tell more stories.
I’ve been preaching the “tell more stories” edict for the better part of my two-decade-old speechwriting career. There are a bunch of great reasons for that – stories engage, stories connect, stories illustrate, stories move. I believe in the concept so much that I began delivering the keynote How to tell a story – and it’s a hit with audiences.

But something’s been missing. I’ve always wanted people to make my content actionable. To not just take away information, but to do something valuable with the information.

I’d been approached by a few companies over the past few months to host reality-show style versions of my How to solve a problem keynote. They’ve worked so well, I thought – why not try this with that storytelling dealy you’ve been doing.

And so I did.

The Great Story is TED-talk-meets-reality-TV-show. What that means is that I teach an audience how to conceive and tell a story. I do it in short chapters – and at the end of each chapter, I break a main group into smaller teams to actually do what I just described. In the end, the smaller teams send a representative to stage to tell the complete story in front of judges that include their leaders (and me!).

It’s a fascinating process. I’ve been an events Creative Director for a whole long while, and I’ve seen every metaphoric teambuilding exercise you can think of. Boat Building Regattas. Rescue Operations. Giant Board Games. Companies are sick of those. They want to be able to solve real problems in real time with real (and new) skills.

The Great Story does exactly that – in fact, it did that for the engineering firm I mentioned. The team that came to me with antiseptic case histories, left with eight new stories that demonstrate their brand in action. Teams were energized throughout the process. They thought deeply. The acted on what they’d learned. And they were oh so competitive.

I think I’m onto something here – which means I’ll be finding ways to transform other Jigsaw keynotes into teambuilding exercises that get people thinking, get people doing and get brands growing.