The last classroom session in our storytelling programme often elicits mixed feelings from participating teams. They are glad they learned the science of storytelling. But they also realise that the real daunting work of applying theory to practice is just beginning. 

A dream and a nightmare, all in one—that’s how Jonas Brunschwig, CEO and Consul General of Swissnex in India, a part of the Consulate General of Switzerland, describes The Ken’s Narrative Thinking workshop. “It’s a dream because folks at The Ken really know what they are talking about, and they teach it with gusto. It’s a nightmare because it lays bare just how hard it is to unlearn and reprogram yourself and your organisation on the quest of becoming a better storyteller.”

But participants also tell us that it gets better with time.

Over a call to get our feedback on some of the content they had created, a team of data scientists from Bengaluru-based analytics company Prescience Decision Solutions told us that they had begun to see a difference within just a few months after the programme ended. “We don’t get requests to clarify our emails anymore,” one of them told us, adding that recipients—managers, peers, clients—knew what the sender meant immediately. 

It is a subtle but powerful change in how the company communicates, and they expect it to translate into better business decisions with more practice.

It’s been a year since we launched The Ken’s Narrative Thinking Workshop, and it’s now evolved into a four- to eight-week programme that’s proven to be effective in improving communications, storytelling strategy, and even business outcomes. And this isn’t what we are saying. It is what the 100 participants who have finished the programme tell us. 

These are people that come from diverse sectors and institutions—representing listed companies such as LatentView Analytics and ITC, fintech firms such as Jocata Financial Services, and not-for-profits working on malnutrition like Sight and Life. And they all agree that storytelling is an essential for any organisation, The Ken’s programme works, and the training sessions have made them better storytellers.

The needs of aspiring storytellers within organisations are unmet

We are an insurance company. There is a lot of technicality in what we do. We need to communicate in a way that a layperson can understand. We need to really uncomplicate communication,” Krishnan Ramachandran, CEO and MD of Insurance major Niva Bupa, told us while explaining what he expected the programme to solve. 

‘Uncomplicate communication’.

But what does it take to do that? The short answer is storytelling. People with different experiences and goals can connect, build trust, and make faster decisions if they communicate through ‘stories’ instead of just sharing ‘information’. 

Several of our participants told us over calls that they believed storytelling was the only way they could communicate with multiple audiences: investors, managers, clients, and colleagues. And the most common bottleneck in organisations, we found, was how to be engaging, relatable, and persuasive in communication. Brunschwig, for instance, said that the better they are at storytelling, the better they will be at influencing. 

The results of our pre-programme surveys made those feelings pretty clear: 

All this data from pre-programme conversations and surveys helped us customise our workshops for each organisation. This infographic below lays out the broad contours of how we went about it and what we offered participants. 

And after one year of customisations and relentless iterations to meet the varied needs of participating teams and organisations, we can safely say that we have found the solution. 

Consider the results of our post-programme survey:

Over this past year, as we worked to build a deep understanding of our own audience, the organisations we worked with understood theirs.

For instance, Namrata Rao, who represents the executive office at Jocata Financial Services, told us that the programme helped a team of 15 leaders from the firm better understand the needs of their multiple stakeholders, made them aware of the necessity to align internal and external communication, and enhanced their storytelling prowess. As a B2B fintech company processing millions of transactions daily for some of the most prominent financial institutions in the country, our communication must consistently resonate with our clients,” she added.

Other organisations like LatentView Analytics, whose team completed the programme earlier this year, had a different story to tell. Getting clients from the top of the funnel to the middle was something that used to take months for the company’s Supply Chain Analytics Leader Sunder Balakrishnan. But after applying storytelling techniques learned during the workshop, what took several months earlier now takes just a few weeks. 

When we first launched in December last year, we developed an original curriculum drawn from the decades of experience of leaders who created The Ken’s distinct narrative style. And we included concepts, examples, mental models, and application techniques that modern ambitious organisations can apply to their own communications. 

The numbers show that we have gotten something right. After completing the program, three out of every four participants told us that they would use storytelling multiple times a week. One in three participants said that the learnings benefit their professional lives everyday.

And we are now ready to accept applications from teams within organisations for the class of 2023. There are only a limited number of slots left. Sign up here.