Channeling the Power of Storytelling: Once upon a time…

Temilade Adelakun
SB Incubator
Published in
5 min readApr 21, 2020

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”

Sue Monk Kidd, author

These words by Sue Monk Kidd finally made sense to me after my encounter with Samuel Osho’s lecture on Creative Writing.

Lately, I have been spending more time reading books, articles, and doing a lot of research. I have fallen in love with Blinkist and “bambooks” app. I have been doing all these in an attempt to improve my writing prowess. I chose to dedicate more time to reading in accordance with the popular advice that constant exposure to the written works of other people could spark some level of ingenuity in me.

I have always actively sought out ways to improve my writing skills and when
StudentBuild gave me the opportunity to do so, I was excited. I saw this as a
platform to leverage for the purpose of honing my skills.

On joining the StudentBuild’s Content Creation Team, I realized that there is more to becoming a good writer than meets the eye. I got to understand that reading alone was not enough, I also needed to write more.

If I must become a good writer, it will be by ‘doing’. I just have to write more to become better at it. I can’t just read books only.

In case you are wondering what StudentBuild is all about, StudentBuild is
a human capacity development platform that seeks to help over 10,000 African students develop the most relevant skills that can make them the most useful to the workforce. It focuses, for now, on undergraduates in their penultimate and/or final year of their tertiary education. It is achieving this by creating technology-driven platforms upon which students can interface with industry-savvy professionals acting as mentors.

As a fellow of StudentBuild Africa, I have had opportunities to participate in
several programs and digest sessions by awesome speakers. Some of the amazing speakers who have given us insightful lectures include Chidi Nwaogu, Chinemelu Ezeh, Jesudamilare Adesegun-David, Oluchi Ezeugo and a host of others.

We had a series of Digest sessions on Professional Communication and Technology. We also had ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) sessions that allowed us to get answers to all our questions from the mentors.

The recent session with Samuel Osho, a Master Scheduler (Operations) at Price Industries on how we can channel the power of storytelling to work for us eye-opening and enlightening.

Every part of the lecture featured practical examples that helped to buttress the point and make me further understand.
I have carefully put together some of the very important points that I learnt about storytelling and its application

Everything I Learnt…

Stories are magnetic and powerful. They sell because they create human
connections and make abstract content concrete. Stories also appeal to human emotions and are memorable. — Samuel Osho

It is no wonder that the most outstanding teachers, public speakers and sometimes leaders are those who share stories to reinforce their message and make a human connection. These messages live with us, years after they have been shared and keep having impacts.

Elements of a Superb Story
Every powerful story has three basic elements — the character(s), conflict and resolution.

In every story, the character goes through a conflict or a series of conflicts that end up with some form of resolution.

Usually, the conflict stage is when you get to emotionally appeal to the audience.

The resolution stage involves wrapping up the story and calling your audience to action. It highlights the purpose of the story.

Common Story Types: (Source: “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath)

Three common story types exist viz

1. The challenge plot — The type of story where there is a challenge to
overcome. A beautiful example of such is the common, emotion-laden
Biblical story of David and Goliath

2. The connection plot — This is the type of story where people develop a story that bridges a social gap. It could be an ethnic gap, religious gap etc

3. The creativity plot — In such a story, a protagonist makes a mental
breakthrough by solving a long-standing puzzle. This type of story shows
the creative ways the protagonist goes about solving a stated problem. An
example of such a story is the non-fictional story of Newton and the law of
gravity

Tips on harnessing storytelling to make your resume powerful

To wrap up the session, Samuel showed us some simple but very important tips for writing better, job-winning resumes. I have highlighted some of these tips below.

  1. Highlight your achievements.
  2. Use “Demonstration statement” instead to explain your work experience. This serves better than simply making a list of skills obtained or duties performed in previous jobs.

Demonstration statements fully show in clear undeniable ways how you have
demonstrated the said skill in the past.

In drafting powerful demonstration statements, it is important that active verbs are used.

As an example; DON’T SAY “I have excellent organizational skills”, rather tell us about the event you have organized using active verbs. So, instead of saying,

“I was responsible for organizing tech events and panels”

The above statement is too generic!!!. Let’s use demonstration statements to reword this such that it becomes:

  • I planned and coordinated panels on technology for an audience of 30–50 undergraduates on a bi-monthly basis
  • I identified and contacted technology advocates and developers in the community to participate in the panel sessions
  • I created marketing materials and publicized the event on social media.

Can you see how the above statement changed from being generic to specific and from being abstract to concrete?

Demonstration statements are very powerful in our storytelling!!!

Finally, I will leave you with this,

Storytelling Best Practices

  • Use conflict to create emotional appeal with the audience
  • Be consistent and authentic
  • Keep the story clear and concise

To get more writing tips. visit www.samosho.com

I plan to continue writing and I will be posting it to share my journey with you! I will write on different subjects — ranging from technology, experience and life lessons.
Thank you for reading!

I am a graduate of Mechanical Engineering, the University of Ibadan with strong interests in technology and Machine Learning. I am a student leader and a passionate advocate of more girls and women joining STEM. I have an apt for research, life-long learning, problem-solving and for continuously improving myself to refine my skills. I am committed to excellence, productivity, and profitability. I have volunteered for several organizations which is one of the things I enjoy doing as my way of giving back to society. I am the Women Techmakers ambassador for Ibadan and also a Google Developers Group (GDG) Ibadan co-organizer. I am a fellow at StudentBuild.

--

--

Temilade Adelakun
SB Incubator

Christian ❤️ | Business | Technology | Products | Leadership | People | Women in STEM Advocate | Impact |