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Tool: Creating a compelling story

Typical use (type of issue/project)

To determine how to create stories that will stick with people and help their learning.

Ease of use rating

Used by

Yourself as a facilitator.

Tips for effective use

Consider your audience so that your stories are relevant and use the tips in the tool to build a story that will help people to learn.

Signals of successful use

You have a number of ‘sticky’ stories and anecdotes that are relevant to the workshop or meeting that you are facilitating and will help participants to remember the information they have received.

Signals of unsuccessful use

Your stories are not compelling or you struggle to think of a story that is relevant to the situation.

Links to other tools

Response feedback, Ways to change state, Facilitator assessment and Contracting (Consulting) .


Creating a compelling story

In recent years, Jamie Oliver has turned his attention toward improving the diet of Britain’s children. Somehow, he has gripped the nation, and schools across the country are reviewing their menus to deliver a healthier menu. How has he grabbed our attention?

One way to do it might have been to tell parents and schools to educate their children about food. Instead, he took a camera crew into the classroom and filmed kids unable to identify common vegetables. Children confused over broccoli and cauliflower created a compelling story and galvanised parents, government bodies and educational establishments alike.

This tool shows how to create a compelling story to galvanise your stakeholders. It may be useful as a facilitator when you are creating an anecdote or story that helps people to remember the skills they are learning.

The first step is to answer the question: ‘What’s my purpose?’ In the example above, Jamie’s purpose was to educate every child about food.

Then create a compelling story that will engage your audience. Compelling stories have a number of aspects. They are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional. Your story doesn’t have to include all of these aspects; use this as a guide to help you put your story together

Creating a compelling story, made to stick


They convey something in a way that is simple and straightforward.


They use surprise, interest & curiosity to get and keep attention.


They connect with what we can see, hear, feel, smell and taste.


They are believable (testable against your own/others experience).


They connect with us at an emotional level.

What’s my story?