Storytelling Tips & the Irish Tradition

By: Sean Kavanagh

Sean Kavanagh has been with The Ariel Group since 1999 when he joined the company as Director of Business Development. He was named CEO in January 2003, and his marketing and leadership influence has created double-digit...  Learn more about the author

Nevermind the green beer – tell a story this St. Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming. Wear a shamrock and quaff a green beer if you must, but if you really want to honor the Irish, tell a good story. My father, a second generation Irish immigrant, was a gifted and often hilarious storyteller. He loved to hold forth over dinner, telling stories we’d all heard before but with such humor, descriptive detail and fascinating characters that my brother and sisters were completely captivated.

In the summer before he died he took me on a tour of his hometown; the houses he grew up in, the schools he attended, the church in which he married our mother and the grave where his mother was buried. He told me stories about each of those places along the way. He shared his hopes, dreams, disappointments and failures; like the day he lost his job and was forced to pawn his accordion to pay the rent or the day Tommy Donnelly got the front wheel of his bike stuck in the trolley tracks.

His stories were often more than just amusement; they made a point, taught a lesson and most of all, gave me an intimate glimpse into my Dad’s character. I saw what he stood for as a son, husband, friend and father. Stories connect with the heart as well as the head. They build relationships and turn data into knowledge that sticks. They can move people to tears and move people to action.

So tell someone a story this Saint Patrick’s Day. Tell one to your boss, or your kids or perhaps skip the PowerPoint and tell a personal story to your team. They’ll love you for it.

Check out our Storytelling eBook for some tips to get you started.

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  • John

    Great article, but where are the tips? :)

  • d gee

    Tips: be Irish, pick your father carefully, go to America.
    You might find books like Ballygullion (Lynn C Doyle) or The Irish RM have short stories in a helpful idiom

  • Rebecca

    I think the tips are to make a point, teach a lesson other than just being amusing.

  • Alyssa Galeros Keefe

    Hi John, Rebecca and d gee, apologies but the tips seem to have disappeared in our last website migration! I would recommend checking out our Storytelling ebook which is available in our resources section: http://www.arielgroup.com/resource/executive-essentials-ebook-storytelling/

    If you are part of the Acumen Storytelling for Change program, the pdf is available ungated (no personal info needed) in the participant guide for lecture #3.

  • william chimene

    i might not be really familiar with a number of Irish traditions but i do know that they are really good story tellers that is why if i may refer to films. you would find that they value storytelling and they are good at it and definitely they are captivating their stories but on another hand how can we also tap into this wonderful culture so that our stories steer up our audiences.