Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Employee Engagement Waning? 5 Storytelling Strategies to Overcome Meeting Boredom

February 26, 2015 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

When was the last time you asked your employees and colleagues what they think of the regular meetings they must attend? Do they find them to be interesting and time well spent? Chances are, they don’t. According to this Inc. article, 46 percent of employees said they would prefer to do almost anything else instead of attend a recurring “staff,” “status” or “update” meeting. And, of these, 17 percent said they would rather watch paint dry, and eight percent would opt for a root canal. Ouch!

Clearly, recurring meetings can be an important component of how many organizations conduct business. But, how effective are they? As we know, when engagement suffers, it can have a direct and lasting impact on organizational culture, employee productivity and the bottom line. 

At Disney Institute, we believe that storytelling is an essential strategy for the communication of new ideas because people are more engaged and inspired by information presented through compelling narratives. While our ancient ancestors knew this intuitively, current brain research suggests it is much easier to remember stories than it is to remember facts because storytelling is how we are wired to understand and remember concepts.

So, try something different in your next meeting. Tell stories! In our professional development training courses, we teach participants that there are a variety of story types that can be effective in a business environment. Here are five that you can try immediately:

  • Who Am I?
    Reveal a fallible characteristic or a successful failure that you personally experienced. Revealing flaws will make you seem more approachable. 
  • Values in Action
    Define values in a narrative, and through that narrative “show” the organization what you stand for.
  • Vision
    Tell stories to inspire hope, stimulate action toward a brighter future, and raise morale.
  • Teaching
    Share a personal experience that teaches an important lesson.
  • I Know What You’re Thinking
    Share stories that demonstrate understanding and respect for others’ opinions and viewpoints.

Communication through storytelling enables a deeper understanding and creates an emotional connection to your ideas; it builds relationships with your audience; and it generates the motivation necessary for implementation. Returning to our meetings scenario - imagine new survey results indicating that your staff meetings are now the preferred source of information and inspiration.

How can you use storytelling to create greater engagement in your next meeting?

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Disney Institute uses business insights and time-tested examples from Disney parks and resorts worldwide to provide relevant illustrations and engaging stories that help you deliver the type of long-term results your organization is capable of delivering. Ultimately, Disney Institute can help you operationalize and sustain business results through leadership, culture, service and more. Explore our solutions for a team or an organizational initiative by visiting Our Approach page. To learn more about options available for an individual, please explore our Scheduled Courses.

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Posted in Business Excellence | Tagged Storytelling, Creativity, Culture, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture, Organizational Culture, Company Culture, Engagement, Bruce Jones

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