Two Essential Frameworks for Small Stories

These frameworks are flexible.  You can expand and adapt them according to your needs.  And of course, you can also colour your framework so they suit your personality and your voice.  Your learners will be swept up in your stories without noticing the framework underneath.

I’ll talk about two frameworks.  With these two frameworks, you can tell almost any story.

Today, we’ll cover Insight Stories:

What’s an Insight Story?

An insight story provides a memorable moment, especially if its lesson is a surprise.

As research suggests, stories help learners remember lessons or insights, and that’s why Insight Stories work so well.

Insight Stories support your authority as a trainer, because they help demonstrate your expertise in a creative way.  Not only do you show your audience that you know your field and have important lessons to share, you also do this in a way that’s memorable and interesting.

The title of this story is: The Power of What Goes Unnoticed.

This title raises questions:  What goes unnoticed?  And how can something that goes unnoticed be powerful?  When a title raises questions like this, learners become curious to learn more … they want to know the answers to their questions, and that’s why they read on.  The contrast between the words ‘power’ and ‘unnoticed’ is intriguing and further increases curiosity.

Next, the opening sentences of this story introduces the two main characters and what they’re doing.

The two sign installers stand back to assess their work before finishing the job.  But something isn’t right.

Now, how that last sentence also arouses curiosity.  What isn’t right?  That question makes one curious to learn more.

Next the story relates what happens:

A couple of the large adhesive letters applied to the store front window are crooked, and one of the men calls this out.

And what happens next: His colleague agrees.  The sign is definitely wonky.

And what happens next? But, he reasons, if the store owners don’t worry about fonts, they’re not going to notice this.

And what happened after that? Let’s just crack on with it, he says.

And they do. Then comes the surprising insight:

But something else is not right … something that skips his attention, as he turns to get the rest of the equipment from their van.  His colleague’s smile slips, his shoulders slump.  Even though he agrees that the store owner might not notice the sign isn’t perfect.  He knows.  And that knowing sucks all the joy out of the work.

Early in the story, we read the sentence, But something isn’t right; and we’ve been waiting to see what turn the story takes.  The joy has gone.  The text helps us picture the disappointed colleague:  His smile slips, his shoulders slump.

Lastly, there’s the wider application of the lesson:

We are not only showing up for Customers.  We are showing up for ourselves … to do work we’re proud of, even when no one is watching.

A story is always specific.  Here the story tells us what happened to two sign installers assessing their work at a store-front window. Yet the lesson of this story is universal: We all feel better when we all do work we’re proud of.

Next week:  How to tell an insight story.