Yesterday I presented a workshop for the Iowa School Public Relations Association. My session title: An orange, a crayon and a paper bag — Storytelling in 2016.

The premise of the session was that, in today’s world where choice abounds — even for K-12 students — and state funding is limited, it is vital to for school districts to demonstrate value. And value comes from creating distinctiveness. I used the three items in the title as the basis for exercises to help participants gain practice in creating distinctions.

You may find them helpful as your organization strives to claim its role in a crowded field or aims to set itself apart from others to gain funding, membership or other benefits. I have written about these items separately, but think about them as a trio that can flex your creative muscle to master the difference between describing and telling a story.

The Orange exercise, the Crayons exercise and the Paper bags exercise can be found at these links.

Another exercise that is helpful in stimulating thought on distinctions is the matching exercise. While it may seem counter intuitive that finding commonalities leads to articulating differences, it does when you go beyond the obvious.

I used flash cards of simple pictures (like what is available in teacher’s stores) and asked the group to find what matched. As an example: It was easy to see that a fox matched the owl as both are animals, but harder to notice that the fox also matched the airplane as both have tails and noses. The owl also matched the airplane because both fly.

The storyteller’s job is to see new ways of connecting ideas, and today, everyone is a storyteller. Practice creating distinctions among seemingly ordinary or similar items to help you vividly communicate your organization’s value.

beth triplett

Dot #608: orange, January 30, 2014
Dot #427: colors, August 2, 2013
Dot #138: paper bags, October 17, 2012

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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