What’s storytelling got to do with mentoring?

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a great conversation with Storyteller, Danny Scheinmann. As well as telling stories through his acting, writing and teaching, Danny works with organisations to harness the power of communicating well through their stories. He describes, stories as;

“… the tool by which you share your vision and your knowledge. You can use them to inspire and motivate your people.”

When working as an internal mentor, giving consideration to the stories we choose to tell (both our own, and others) and how we tell them, can help transform the ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’ of the story into a more engaging and interesting experience.

The experience gap, essential to any internal mentoring relationship, can be illuminated with stories to help a mentee navigate their own path through whatever their chosen area may be. This is true whether they are looking to join the board, understand social media, return to work after maternity leave or any other transition the mentoring is set up to support.

So now, when I am working with people new to the role of internal mentor, rather than recounting the steps I took to becoming a mentor – I have begun to tell my story. I share that it all began when I was 23, in my café next to the ocean in Mumbles… and I can feel the difference, both for me telling the story and for those hearing it. It’s just so much more interesting and memorable.

However, some words of caution… Before launching into storytelling as an internal mentor give thought to why you share any story, practice telling it and ask yourself the following:

– What is my intention behind telling this story?
– How does it illuminate the point I am making?
– How can I relate the story to practical examples?
– How can I keep it as short and sweet as possible?

Stories are brilliant ways of bringing examples to life but remember, as an internal mentor our skill lies in knowing when to share a story, when to stop and when to ask the mentee to share their story and simply listen.

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