The Power of Storytelling in Emergency Preparedness


By: Gideon F. For-Mukwai

Last November, I gave a talk on the power of storytelling in emergency preparedness to emergency managers at their annual conference in Kansas.

For over three years, I had suppressed the idea of sharing publicly about this topic because I thought other professionals would find this to be lame and old. To my surprise, the room was full with over 300 participants from all fields of emergency management. After the workshop, several participants expressed their desire to start story catalogues as I had recommended.

I have nobody but myself to blame because I waited too long to serve a meal that many were yearning to consume. How did I wait so long to share this when I had personally used a lot of my storytelling in my workshops in Asia, America and Africa? Looking back, I cannot believe it but… think about it… you can use the idea.

During the course of my presentation, I shared with the participants that storytelling is vital in persuasion, and emergency preparedness takes a form of persuasion. Think about it, you always have to disrupt work to conduct exercises. Do you think all stakeholders are always happy when you come in to conduct a fire drill? No!

To drive my point home, I said storytelling is like a lubricant in the process of preparedness. Without it, the ride on the wheel of communication can be very rough. With it, your stakeholders will give you some attention. The more you can use storytelling to lubricate the wheel of communication, the more you will succeed in your work as an emergency manager.

Storytelling LUBEs: What do I mean by LUBE?

L = storytelling lubricates by dialogue with senior management whose support you need to push preparedness through
= storytelling unites you, the emergency manager, with your audience by way of emotions, pictures, ideas
= storytelling breaks any barriers of resistance especially when you are just building rapport and understanding
E = storytelling energizes and inspires stakeholders to be part of your initiative

Research has found that storytelling engages both the left and right brain. Unlike helping people to be inspired by numbers, graphs and mere corporate policies, try to use stories that humanize, humorize and engage your stakeholders. 

By: Gideon F. For-Mukwai

© 2015 Alliance Training and Consulting, Inc.



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