AB Thinks  →  20th September 2023

Is it time to move away from storytelling?

Storytelling is as old as humankind. And in the 21st century, it’s become a comms buzzword. Webinars, TED Talks, those long first-person LinkedIn posts: all storytelling designed to make the key point entertaining, inspirational, memorable.

But is there a limit to its powers? As public speaking specialist Shil Shanghavi tells Katie in episode 86 of the Internal Comms Podcast, we should also be considering ‘story sharing’.

So what does he mean by this?

“Storytelling is a TED Talk,” said Shil. “A person on stage delivers a talk and it’s a one-way conversation. People can switch off if the storyteller isn’t an engaging teller, because it doesn’t encourage conversation from the audience.

“Story sharing is where we encourage a two-way conversation. The shift is that in story sharing, we build comfort and trust through our language. We give people permission to share parts of themselves and their own stories.”

Shil told Katie that people are twenty-two times more likely to remember someone when they’ve shared a story. And the depth of conversation increases by 35%.

There’s an extreme end to story sharing: say, throwing your mother’s ashes onto the stage at a pop concert, or inviting interruptions during your stand-up routine (see comedian James Acaster’s new show, Heckler’s Welcome.)

But Shil’s advocating for a more practical, everyday version.

He recalls the first conversation between Katie and himself. “I shared three things about me and you shared three things about you,” he said. “That was a conversational shift in story sharing… a memorable conversation and it ended up with me being a guest on your show.

“I would encourage anybody who listens to this – don’t be afraid to share personal stories. Most of the time it works.”


Listen to the Shil’s conversation with Katie in the first episode of season 10 of the Internal Comms Podcast. And share your story with us using #ABThinks