Welcome to the Telling of Story podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling to attract, engage, and retain a business audience, and to unpack why it works for some, and not for the many that try. Listen in as Chip talks about the audience being an intrinsic part of storytelling.

Chip Colquhoun: You can’t do storytelling without an audience, because if you are just storying, well then it’s not storytelling, you know, you’re just usually in a room talking to yourself and that just doesn’t work. Unlike acting, where you have a script and you can rehearse it and you can go over it however many times on your own until it’s perfect, you can’t do that with storytelling because the audience are an intrinsic part of the art form.

It’s absolutely a two way art form.

Jewels: In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Chip Colquhoun. Chip began his storytelling professionally in 2007. He’s since performed in 10 countries, presented traditional tales for the Oxford Reading Tree, the world’s most renowned program for teaching kids to read, performed regularly at Glastonbury, the UK’s biggest music festival, and represented the Roald Dahl Story Museum on TV.

He also wrote the EU’s guidance on using storytelling in schools and has recently begun assisting the UK’s government’s departments for education to train teachers in using storytelling, specifically to inspire kids to read for pleasure. He lives in the former residence of Samuel Pepys, England’s most famous diarist in the geographically lowest lands in England with his wife Emma and kitten Tito.

Chip, welcome to the show.

Chip Colquhoun: Thank you very much for having me and well done for plowing on through that rather tricky bio at times. 

Jewels: Fantastic. I have to start with, how do you pronounce your surname? Because I’m pretty sure I butchered it completely. 

Chip Colquhoun: You did a very valiant attempt and I must admit I’ve had a lot worse.

Okay. So well done. It is actually Kahoon. It has a silent O, L, Q and U.. 

Jewels: Wow Okay. That’s a, that’s definitely a new one for me.

Chip Colquhoun:. You have to keep them in that they’re like an apostrophe because if you took them out, it would be spelt C H O U N and you’d pronounce that tune, which would just be wrong. Okay, 

Jewels: fabulous.

Yeah, you must have had a lot of interpretations over the years. Let me imagine. I’ve had 

Chip Colquhoun: a fair few. I should also say for any of your listeners who are in the know that the house I’m living in belongs to Samuel Pepys. So he’s also one who has a very bizarre spelling for his surname compared to the pronunciation.

I think I said 

Jewels: Pepys. You did say Pepys. [00:03:00] There you go. I’m never good with names, so I should always start with how do you pronounce your name? Chip, take me back all the way back to when you first started writing. I believe at the age of four and then you were first published at seven. Are you one of those freakish child prodigies?

Chip Colquhoun: Well, do you know what? Before I answer that, I do want to say in your defense that you had asked me for the pronunciation of my surname and I forced you to have a go for your bio. So dear listeners, your host is still fantastic. Yeah. He’s very forgiving for his guests. But yeah, you’re right. I had a couple of years in foster care.

Do you have foster care over there in Australia? Yes, absolutely. Yes. So yeah, I had a couple of years in foster care myself. And when I came back to my father’s house afterwards, I found a copy of a story that I had written before I entered foster care. So it must have been at the age [00:04:00] of three or four.

And it was just a short story. And the thing is, I hadn’t been taught how to write yet, so it literally had the word, the, it had the very crude picture of a fish and, and it had loads of squiggles, but they were perfectly punctuated squiggles, you know, there were full stops, paragraphs and everything. So I clearly had the.

Knowledge of what a story should look like. And I probably knew as well what it meant at the time, but I have no idea now what it could possibly have been about. And yeah, the first publication I had was when I was at school, I got a news report published at the age of seven for a school trip that we’d had.

So yeah, I suppose there’s, there’s always been a writing bug in me. 

Jewels: And where does that come from? Was there somebody in the family that encouraged you to read and write? Or was it just a natural thing that you picked up? You know, 

Chip Colquhoun: that’s a good question. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about that before.

It certainly wasn’t in my immediate DNA. [00:05:00] I’ve got a very curious family history in that I’ve never met any of my grandparents, my natural grandparents. So I don’t know whether there is a writing gene earlier on in the family. But I was certainly read to a lot by both my parents. And I think as well, the curious combination of being an only child when I was living with my father, and the eldest of many brothers and sisters on my mother’s side, meant that I had lots of time on my own to cultivate an imagination and that sort of desire to express and play all by myself and also on the other side of that, the desire to share what I had created and lead others through imaginative journeys.

And so how 

Jewels: did that progress through your childhood years? Were you just constantly reading, you know, head in a book? Were you always just writing? Did it, you know, lead to some studies? Where did it go [00:06:00] from those younger years? 

Chip Colquhoun: Do you know, I think I was probably writing before I was reading, certainly judging by that example that I found of my earliest writing.

I think I must have been writing before I was able to read. So I have memories of being read to right up until the ages of six or seven. But I have evidence of me writing from before then. I think I probably started reading most avidly once I had got past the age of seven. And by the time I had finished my primary education, which is age 11 here in the UK, I had already read all of the original James Bond books by Ian Fleming, Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park, not the movie adaptation, which they tried to flunk me off with at the school library.

And. Yeah, quite a few Stephen King, James Herbert as well. So I was very much reading adult fiction by the time I got to my, well, I think I was a little bit beyond [00:07:00] the early readers of my class. And 

Jewels: that has obviously led you to a lifelong, you know, obsession with reading, writing and storytelling. And for the last 16 or so years, you’ve been an author.

But you’ve also worked with children and the government, and you’ve won some prizes in the awards. Sorry, you’ve been a finalist in the Entrepreneur’s Circle, Most Inspiring Business Person for 2022. Life changing benefits for the work you’ve done with children. Tell me a little bit about that and what, what’s driving that passion.

Chip Colquhoun: Well, I think once again, I have to slightly draw out some of the vulnerability of the host here, Jewels, because I haven’t been writing for 16 years professionally. Okay. I have been storytelling for 16 years professionally, and It’s not the way I would have wanted it to go. The way I would have wanted it is exactly the stuff that you just read out there.

I’d actually planned to be writing for probably twice that, actually. I think I submitted my first [00:08:00]novel to a publisher at the age of 16, got it rejected, but was really keen to move from school into a writing career. And when that didn’t work out, university into a writing career. And when that didn’t work out, somehow I ended up storytelling.

Doing it orally, actually standing up in front of audiences and just telling them a story. And when we started, and I say we, cause it was actually not even my idea. I had a friend from university who had wanted to go into teaching, found that to be far too difficult, except for story time when she suddenly had all of these children paying her lots of attention.

So she contacted me and asked me if I’d help her to become a storyteller. And. Both of us really were expecting it to be something like putting on little drama plays, scripts and things in front of school audiences. We did a bit of research before going into it though, went and saw a few other storytellers.

[00:09:00] And here in the UK, there’s a really strong storytelling network. It’s called the Society for Storytelling. And there are quite a few local storytelling groups where you’ll find traditional storytellers. And what we picked up on very quickly is that traditional storytelling is not acting. There’s actually a lot of big differences there.

And once I got clued up to those. It really sort of piqued my perception of just how powerful this could be as a tool for all sorts of things. There’s the business side that I know you speak about a lot. There’s the education side, the entertainment value. Once you see how different storytelling is from performance arts, such as acting, that’s when you really start to harness the incredible power and benefits.

Jewels: So how would you define storytelling? 

Chip Colquhoun: So, the Really interesting thing about storytelling [00:10:00] as an art as a word is that it’s completely different from all other art forms. If you take writing, for example, you write as a writer, you are a writer and you do writing. If you are an actor, you do acting. But for storytelling, we are not a story or, you know, we don’t just have a story.

The telling is an important part of the word. And the thing about telling is that, well, if you’re going to tell something, what do you need? 

Jewels: Well, you typically need a narrative. You need a journey and you need a point to make at the end of it.

Chip Colquhoun: All of which is the story part. Very important as the story part.

But what do we need to be telling something? A voice. Yeah, absolutely something that you need for acting and any form of communication, I guess, but you’re missing the big, the big element that makes telling work, telling doesn’t work without it. What is this big element? 

Jewels: You’re going to have to [00:11:00] enlighten me.

The next thing I was going to say was listening or an audience.

Chip Colquhoun: And that’s it. That is exactly it. Oh, that’s it. That is it. You can’t do storytelling without an audience. Because if you are just storying, well, then it’s not storytelling. You know, you’re just usually in a room talking to yourself and that just doesn’t work.

Unlike acting, where you have a script and you can rehearse it and you can go over it however many times on your own until it’s perfect. You can’t do that with storytelling because the audience are An intrinsic part of the art form. It’s absolutely a two way art form. And I think that’s one of the things that gets missed an awful lot when storytelling is increasingly used these days in a whole bunch of different ways and for a whole bunch of different meanings, which it doesn’t necessarily fit into, although it can, if you start to approach it from.

Thinking about the importance of the audience. So, you know, we have [00:12:00] film directors and writers and entrepreneurs who are described as fantastic storytellers, but often what’s really going on is they are being seen as fantastic performers or fantastic creators. What really elevates someone to the status of being a storyteller is the level of attention they are giving to their audience, who’s actually listening.

To this story, that’s the key element of the art form and it’s built in right there in the word. 

Jewels: And so are you saying that in order to be a storyteller, then I might have the basis of a story that I want to tell, but depending on who I’m talking to, depending on the reactions that I’m getting. Depending on the audience participation points, I would adjust that narrative in order to keep the attention to keep them listening and to keep them engaged.

Is that what you’re sort of saying is that I need to adapt every story to the audience that I’m telling it to? 

Chip Colquhoun: Yeah, that [00:13:00] I guess that is exactly what I’m saying. It’s part of the reason why I can’t. Do an interview without involving you. I’m sorry. I’m going to ask you questions. Cause that’s just the way that I go.

But also I don’t know whether it’s a need so much as just a natural thing. You know, if you take a story that pretty much everybody around the world knows, like let’s go with little red riding hood, you know, little red riding hood. Yep. I always get nervous when I say something like that because I worry about how Western cultures kind of spread, but yes, little red riding hood.

pretty popular one. If you were asked to tell that right now, I bet you could, you know the story, don’t you? 

Jewels: Yeah, I know enough to tell it in sort of basic terms. I probably wouldn’t go into a huge amount of detail, but yeah, I 

Chip Colquhoun: think I can tell the story. If you had on that lovely red couch behind you some kids.

You would probably be able to tell it to them and you would use totally different words to the ones that you’re using to me, not because you’ve thought [00:14:00] about it, especially, but just because that would come to you naturally. Wouldn’t it? Yeah. 

Jewels: You’re adapting to that audience, right? So yeah, absolutely.

Chip Colquhoun: Likewise. Yeah. So that’s basically what storytelling is all about. It becomes an art form when you consider that relationship a little bit more and you maybe go into it with a bit of preparation. But generally it is something that is entirely natural. And a lot of the work that I do with adults and entrepreneurs in workshops and marketing departments and so on comes down to showing people just how intrinsic this is.

You can’t be human without being a storyteller at some level. And once you’ve realized that, It becomes a question of developing your talent rather than trying to learn a skill. It’s an 

Jewels: interesting definition and I’ve never thought of it in the way you’ve just described it, but I think it’s pretty powerful because I do see a lot of entrepreneurs in particular, like great storytellers or perceived as great storytellers.

But if you [00:15:00] follow them for long enough, it’s pretty much a performed art, you know, they’ll come on and do a speech. And if you watch them often enough, you’ll see the same speech three or four or five times. And it’s pretty much identical each time. They might be very engaging and they’re strong leaders and people are following along beautifully.

So they managed to keep the audience engaged, but they’re not. Adapting to what, how you’ve just described. They’re not actually adapting necessarily to the audience. So it’s just a learned art, which they’re performing out. So in that case, they tend to be more performers, right? They’re not actually good storytellers.

Somebody who you, and there are others that have followed along for years. And every time they speak, they might say some of the same words and they’re effectively telling the same sort of outline of the story, but the way they tell it. Would is dependent on that particular audience. So it differs. There are nuances in the way they’d speak in the stories or the sub stories that they might use to elevate a point can be [00:16:00] quite different.

So I love the definition. Thank you. 

Chip Colquhoun: I want to very hastily add as well, just to not alienate any of your listeners, that being a performer is not a bad thing. And there are so many reasons for it and so many ways in which that can often be the best approach for various kinds of media that we have out there at the moment.

It’s pretty much the only approach. So if you take things like Social media or, or TEDx talks. It’s very difficult to have a level of engagement until you start like getting into comments. You always have to make that first post. And I’ve heard some of your other guests mentioned about the importance.

And I think you yourself as well mentioned about the importance of putting out regular content. Obviously, if you’re going to be putting out regular content, you have to balance how much of what you’re doing on social is just. Performing, you know, the, the actual posting in the first place and the engagement, which is the responding to comments and so on.[00:17:00]

So, so there is a fine line sometimes. And for certain presentations, being a more of a performer is going to help. There’s a lot of stuff that you can take from storytelling, which is going to adapt very well to the performing arts. And again, If you think of media such as television, you can’t engage if you are the storyteller on the other side of the screen.

It’s very difficult to engage with your audience without being able to hear them, without being able to actually look into their eyes. There are things that you can take from having that. Personal in person interaction and you can adapt it for the screen and I’ve helped to quite a few people in the past be able to do that.

One of which is looking into the camera, which has only really started becoming a big thing on YouTube and even video calling. Really, really recently, but it’s a question of, you know, trying to figure out what style [00:18:00] of telling the story is going to work for your audience. Sometimes that is just thinking, who have I got in front of me and how am I going to adapt it?

But also it can be a question of what media am I using to tell my story? How are the audience engaging with that media? And so, you know, how am I going to make the story work best down that line? Have you 

Jewels: done some work with the business community, like in, in the storytelling space, have you worked with entrepreneurs and CEOs and the like?

Chip Colquhoun: have, I mean, really early on, actually, if you can call them entrepreneurs, my first sort of self employed community were Vickers. We had only been storytelling for about two or three months and we got recruited by a. Vicar training college in the city of Cambridge here in the UK to help develop the storytelling skills of the clergy, the trainee clergy.

And so, yeah, it’s been a factor right from the beginning, thinking about [00:19:00] how you, first of all, create the story part, the story that is going to be engaging and inspiring to your listenership. And then also, well, How do you present that to your listenership? What are the different ways for doing that? How can you hone your ability to adapt to whoever you’ve got in front of you, adapt your story and so on.

But in the intervening time, I have worked with some big brands like Nestle and Best Western. I’ve also worked with some big institutions like the National Literacy Trust, the European Union. I suppose that’s probably the biggest I’ve got to. And in all of these cases, it has been a question of, first of all, of helping people understand exactly what storytelling is, getting over the fact that this is something that is both really, really natural and intrinsic, but also a big mystery to many of us.

You know, it’s something that we do every day. And yet [00:20:00] often we don’t realize that we’re doing it. So we have a bit of separation anxiety from storytelling. We think this is something that someone over there can do better because they can do all of the voices and or they’re brilliant at acting. They’ve got all of the confidence.

And actually, when it comes to the benefits of the performing arts, sometimes Acting or performing can be a bit of a shield, a kind of confidence boosting shield because you can become someone else when you are presenting the storytelling, though, I personally find it even more of a confidence boost because you’re turning the listener’s attention back on themselves.

So you’re not trying to draw all of the attention on you. You’re trying to get them to look into their own mind’s eye. I think that can actually be really powerful and empowering. for you as the storyteller as well, because you are no longer worrying about all eyes being on you and you’re kind of becoming someone’s guide through something a lot more [00:21:00] interesting, which is the world of their own 

Jewels: creating.

Can you give me some examples perhaps of how you would guide somebody in the business space to tell perhaps A story, which, you know, traditionally might’ve been a very technical space. Perhaps it’s a product or a service that they’re offering. It intrinsically is something that is a technical piece of work or so, you know, specific to an environment, but it’s not a creative space like storytelling.

How do you inject that personality? Into those, perhaps a presentation or a keynote or whether it’s a proposal or something where you get the opportunity to speak in front of your prospect or your client, what sort of advice would you give or guidance as to how to sort of inject that personality, how to bring those storytelling in because in the business space, I found that, you know, in the last Decade, there’s been a bit of a shift, you know, a decade ago, you know, I’ve been going for over a decade as my storyteller sort of in business.

And when I first started, it was [00:22:00] kind of, what do you mean storytelling? Isn’t that something you do with your kids at just before bedtime? It’s, it’s not something we do in business. So there was this sort of a disconnect when I first started, you know, roll forward a decade or so. Now I’m finding that people are interested in injecting personality and storytelling into their business world, but they still don’t kind of know how.

That gets done. Well, you know, what sort of advice would you give somebody who’s perhaps early on that journey as to how to shift from like a technical, just spitting out all the knowledge that they have and injecting some of that story. So there are 

Chip Colquhoun: three elements to it, two of which come from the word storytelling itself.

So I tend to work with clients on the story part. And when we look at that, we’re looking at. What it is about story that is naturally attractive because we are all storytelling animals. I think I’ve heard that phrase mentioned on your podcast before we do have this natural attraction to story. And when you start [00:23:00] digging deep into.

Exactly why that is and what that is, what you start to see is terms that they’ve used in the business community long before they started using storytelling. So things like problem and solution, you know, that is an intrinsic part of every story. And we’ve always been talking in the business world about how you identify your customers problems or your clients problems and you help them to.

To see the solution. So by, I suppose, exploring how and why this is important to everybody from a natural point of view, a survival point of view, that helps you to reframe your thinking with regards, actually framing your own story. And we can talk about that a little bit more as well, if you like. Then there’s of course, the storytelling side.

Then, of course, there’s the telling side, the part that is really the personality where you’re starting to look at your listener and think, okay, what’s going to work for them? How are we going to help them? [00:24:00] How can we have a good communication with them? And this is really underpinned by the third element of this, which I would actually put right at the start and the only reason I haven’t done it now is because it didn’t naturally flow in this answer to your question, but I would like to ask you Jewels how you’d feel about having a little workshop me to you right here in your podcast that your listeners could join in with.


Jewels: Let’s go for it. You’re ready. I’m ready. Yeah, go for it. Yeah, absolutely. Let’s do 

Chip Colquhoun: it. So what I’m going to do is ask you to give me a word. Absolutely. Any objects you can think of in the world. Yeah. Orange. Orange. Okay. Bear with me a second. 

Jewels: I don’t know why. Maybe I’m a little bit hungry. 

Chip Colquhoun: We were saying that because of the time difference, it is kind of breakfast time for me and late night snack time for you.

Jewels: Yeah, no, my dinner. Yeah, absolutely. 

Chip Colquhoun: [00:25:00] Okay, so orange. Good word to start with. Now what I’d like you to do is think of another object that has got absolutely nothing to do with an orange. Bicycle bicycle, and I can already tell how good you are or how good you’re going to be at this exercise because of how quick you came up with that answer.

It’s actually quite difficult to do that normally, because we group things by association in our minds. You know, we define things like an orange by other fruits that it’s not, you know, the apples, the pears, the bananas, or we define it by the you. sort of associations we have around eating it, like tables and cutlery.

So to actually go to a completely different part of your experience and pull out a bicycle, not too bad at all. Can you do it again though and give me something that’s got nothing to do with a bicycle? Worms. Very nice. Let’s do it one more. Let’s have something that’s got nothing to do with worms. The sun.

The sun. Okey dokey. And if you are following along with this at home, which I’d highly recommend, [00:26:00] those words were orange, bicycle, worms, and sun. Maybe write them down. I should have said as well, what I’m about to share with you is the most powerful tool for developing your own creativity, your own imagination.

And I know that for two reasons, which I’ll explain at the end. But the very first stage, creating this list of unconnected words, like I said, it can be a struggle for some, because you are having to go to different parts of your brain and pull out things that are not connected at all. So, well done for coming up with that list so swiftly, Jewels!

Jewels: None of it was edited out in post production. There wasn’t long pauses in between that, I promise. So 

Chip Colquhoun: now what we’re going to do is we are going to, I might have guessed this, top marks if you have, but we are now going to force ourselves to find real life connections between each pair of words. And when I say that, I definitely want verifiable facts that [00:27:00] connect these items.

So we’re not trying to make up a story here. We’re not going to talk about someone who woke up one morning and ate a super powered orange which gave them the ability to pedal on their bicycle so fast that they whizzed across the world and found themselves in an alien landscape where all of these worms were life size and took them on a spaceship to the sun.

We’re not doing any of that. What we are doing is we’re trying to find things that when we say them, or when we connect them, both us and the majority of your listeners Jewels will be able to say, yep, okay, that’s obviously true, like for instance, bicycles have wheels, which are circular shaped, and an orange is basically a 3d circle.

Okay. True. True. Yes. You can agree with that. Yeah. We could also say both orange and bicycle end with the letter E. True. True. Yes. Yeah. Can you give me another verifiable fact connecting those two words? Now there may be a long pause 

Jewels: between this one. I’m thinking color, juice, texture, but I’m not coming up [00:28:00] with any association other than, you know, the texture of the orange is somewhat similar to the texture of a bicycle seat if you’ve got a leather seat, 

Chip Colquhoun: but.

Oh, yeah, no, I really like that one. Actually, I would verify that. Yeah, you have that kind of. Is it duffled? Is that the word where you have those little dots? Yeah. And yeah, I mean, you mentioned color there. I’m pretty sure we get orange bicycles. Pretty sure I’ve seen one of those around. Sure. Not 

Jewels: connected to every bicycle.

I was trying to get something that was connected to each, most instances, but yeah, you get, obviously you get an orange bicycle 

Chip Colquhoun: as well. Yeah. Yeah. You certainly can. I mean, one thing that you can say definitely connects them. You sort of mentioned size very briefly. Both of them come in different sizes.

Yeah. I mean, once you’ve done this a few times, you can start to get clever with it and say, you know, orange has the word rang in the middle of consecutive letters R A N G, and rang is the past tense of ring, which is something that you would do with the ringer on a bicycle. Yeah. So can you give me one more?

Can you squeeze out one more connection between orange and [00:29:00] bicycle 

Jewels: there Jewels? Well, you sort of gave me a little hint with the wording there, but the last five letters of the word is range. And typically when you’re on a bicycle, you look for, you are going somewhere and there is a range in which you can pedal.

So there’s a bit of a connection in distance there. I will 

Chip Colquhoun: go with that one. Brilliant. So let’s now move on to bicycle and worms. Try and do just a couple of connections for this one. Okay, Boschall 

Jewels: and Worms. Both of them typically are connected to the ground at any point in time. 

Chip Colquhoun: For the listeners at home, after saying that, Jewels then went and gave himself a tick, I think.

I think you’re mocking your own progress. No, I’m 

Jewels: just writing out my own answers because unless you’re, if you’re going to ask me the next thing that I’ve got to remember my last thing, so just in case I forget. But yes, I’ll give myself a little tick and a little pat on the back. Both connected to the ground.

They also come in various sizes, so there’d be different things that they’d always also come in, in different types, I guess. So [00:30:00] bicycles can, you know, there’s different types of bicycles and mountain bikes. Yes. And speed bikes, whatever, and worms. Mm-Hmm. There are many different varieties of worms. So different varietal shifts in those as well.


Chip Colquhoun: that? Yeah, absolutely love it. And let’s finish then with the connection between worms and sun. 

Jewels: Worms will tend to come to the surface. And, you know, bask in the sunlight, so there’s a connection, a physical connection. Do they do that? I don’t know, actually. Maybe it’s 

Chip Colquhoun: Well, I’m glad you said it because it’s important for us to demonstrate what a non verifiable 

Jewels: fact is.

Possibly they do the opposite, actually. They might run away from the sun, but I’m not sure. 

Chip Colquhoun: Yeah, yeah, it might be that they do come out in order to get some sunlight, but I mean, it’s maybe something that we could check on Google, but I tend to prefer connections that we know that we can both agree straight away.

Yep, that’s definitely true, such as the fact that yeah, worms mull around in the earth and that’s part of what helps plants get their [00:31:00] nutrition. But in order for a plant to grow, it needs sunlight. Yes. So I probably explain why I’ve been putting you through all of that. Yeah. Go for it. What you have just been doing is probably the most basic, the most redacted form of the imagination that you can get.

Cause all the imagination is, is taking one idea from one part of your experience and blending it with another part of your experience. Usually a part that you wouldn’t necessarily. Put together. And when we think of the creative space, a lot of the time, this is done absolutely intentionally and unapologetically.

If you take Steven Spielberg, for example, he has said in interviews, how he really wanted to direct a James Bond film, he knew he’d never get asked to direct a James Bond film. So he decided to create his own, but so he couldn’t get accused of being called a ripoff. He blended it with the idea of an archeologist and so produced Indiana giants [00:32:00] in the exactly.

And, you know, you’ve got George Lucas talking about how star wars is a Western in space and that kind of thing, but it also happens subconsciously. So, you know, writer might wake up and think they’ve got the fantastic idea for a story that has never been told before. They will get it printed and published, everyone will be amazed by it, but you’ll always get at least one critic who says, you know, it’s kind of like a cross between gone with the wind and aliens or something like that.

So, you know, we can merge things with our reality. We can merge things with stories that we’ve heard before. It’s all about making connections, connections that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. And so this exercise basically goes down to really focus on that key element of creativity. And the more you do this, I promise the better you will get at it.

And it will help you to be able to make those connections between a story that you’re trying to tell and the best way for the audience that you want to hear it. And I [00:33:00] said at the start that. I know this is the best exercise for two reasons. The first of those reasons is that I invented it, which I have heard another one of your podcasters say, so I’m going to say that with some confidence.

But the second reason is that having invented it, I then discovered loads of other people who thought they’d invented it as well. And I’ve seen this exact same exercise apparently originated by the writer of a book on. Computing a book on writing a book on painting. I think I saw it on a website for painting.

You’ll find it all over the place because like I say, it is the most basic exercise that you can do for building up your creativity a little bit like, you know, bicep curls will build up your biceps. This is a bicep curl for the brain. A brain 

Jewels: curl. This was completely unplanned, this little exercise. And I have to burst your bubble just a little bit.

I, um, inadvertently, I didn’t realise it until we sort of came towards the end, but [00:34:00] I do a very, very similar exercise. I call it story linking. Because when, you know, back to the question where I asked you, uh, how would you guide somebody that, you know, perhaps has a very technical product or service that they’re trying to sell and how do they then inject some of that storytelling to bring some personality to those, you know, technical environments.

So the way I frame it is a story linking. So you’ve got all your technical aspects of your business or your proposal, whatever it is you’re trying to put forward. And each of those, and there are many words that you would naturally associate with that particular solution. So you just pick out a whole bunch of words or a whole bunch of points that you want to make that are strong points in your argument when you’re communicating out to your audience.

And then think about a story. That you may want to tell, which may, which often is completely unrelated to the product or service, but it’s a personal story that will inject some of that [00:35:00] personality into the environment. So think about a story, you know, a time that you did this or a time that you did that.

You know, I did it recently where I told a story about buying a washing machine and I was talking to an audience about providing value. So it’s a personal experience about buying as boring as hell. When you think about, you know, what’s the most boring thing you can think of? I went and bought a washing machine.

That was my story. But the story linking exercise goes like this. You have all the points that you want to make on one side of the page, and then you have the story elements on the other side of the page, and you just keep writing out bits of the, each, some of the keywords that you would use in your story.

And the idea is eventually if you map these out and you have a whole bunch of stories, what you’ll start to see is. Two words on the different sides of the page that actually come together and they link. So by having a boring story or a personal story over here, what you’re doing is you’re eventually telling the story with a [00:36:00] link directly to a point that you’re trying to make in the business thing.

So that’s, that’s how I do it, right? It’s a very similar in, in concept. Where you’ve got two different abstract things, but you’re trying to find some commonality in between so that you can relate it. And then it becomes interesting in that context. 

Chip Colquhoun: And can I ask, when you do that, do you notice any kind of common theme or thread to the words that are pulled out that are connected?

It kind 

Jewels: of depends on the, who’s doing the exercise. Like, as you just sort of mentioned, some people are better at it than others. So when I say, you know, give me some key points that you want to say, they might only, you know, on the business side, they might only give me three words, you know, we’re trying to do A, B and C and it’s like, okay, let’s dig a little bit deeper.

So the being able to dig deeper is where you can actually start to get the value. So by going further and further down the process and saying, what else are you trying to say? What are you actually trying to say? What does that really mean for the client? Like, what are the problems you’re actually [00:37:00]solving and how would they feel, how would they feel if something happened over here?

And what if something went wrong? What would the words you use there, you know, in that aspect. And then the same thing for the story that you’re telling, they say, well, I don’t have any interesting stories. And I tell them the story about the washing machine, right? And it’s like, well, this is not an interesting story, but I can link it by.

Finding some sort of association between these two abstract items. And again, you just keep writing words out that you’re trying to tell, as trying to weave into the story. And then at some point in time, you’ll start to get enough across both sides of the page where you’ll get those linkages. 

Chip Colquhoun: Yeah, the reason why I asked the question was because a lot of very related topic, very similar in a way that the similarities here are hopefully highlighting to your listeners.

Just how this works. The fact that you’re able to come to very similar places. You and I have never met. We may not have read the same books. I highly doubt we have. We’ve not had the same personal interactions and yet we’ve still [00:38:00] developed a process for sharing our knowledge and for helping others to grow theirs, which has got so many fantastic similarities, but another one of the activities that I run early on in any entrepreneurial workshop.

Is very simply getting people to tell the story of their morning and the first time they do this, it will be very narrative focus. You know, I did this and I did this and I did this and I did this and it’s partly a way to highlight the difference between narrative and story because a narrative is what has a beginning, middle and end.

Sometimes you’ll hear people saying, you know, every story has to have a beginning, middle and end. Absolute codswallop. Narratives need a beginning, middle, and end because that’s what a narrative is. It’s going from a beginning to an end. Story is where you inject something else. And what is that extra thing that you inject?

Well, that seems to come quite naturally to people when I say Right, okay, your challenge now is to tell the [00:39:00] story of your mourning again, but make it sound like the most epic adventure ever! And I say, you know, you’ve got to put it in the third person, you’ve got to put it in the past tense, so it sounds like it’s got that air of finality, that it definitely happened, and there was something exciting about it, just, just put that in, you know, however you want to.

And I’m getting them to think really superficially in a way about, you know, the voice that they’re using and the, the actions. I mean, I know your listeners can’t see the gestures that I’m having here, you know, throwing my arms out wide. That’s the sort of thing that I’m sort of encouraging them to do.

When they start doing that though, they find afterwards with a bit of retrospection, their language automatically changed as well. And what it seems to. Change with is this injection of emotion emotive language. So suddenly, the reason why they’re doing [00:40:00] things tends to come into the actual narrative a lot more.

So it’s not just. I woke up at six o’clock, uh, set the alarm to snooze and then went back to sleep for another 20 minutes and then I got up again. It suddenly becomes, the alarm went off at six o’clock and it was such a piercing shrill noise that had just entered into my consciousness. And it was just the worst thing to be suffering from at this moment in time that I reached out a hand like the claw of a zombie and smashed it down on that alarm.

You know, suddenly they’re giving a reason to why they are switching off that alarm. And I think that starts to answer the question you had earlier as to Exactly how we make our telling more engaging, how we put some personality in there, we start to explore our motivations a little bit more. We start to find that empathetic link with our listener that will help them to [00:41:00] understand why we’re doing this or why such and such a solution is going to be the right 

Jewels: one.

So what you’re telling me is I should tell every story like I’m telling my three year old kid bedtime scary story, right? Give it that oomph, give it that fire in your belly so that they, well, I guess so that they have this massive big smile on their face and they just want to listen along. 

Chip Colquhoun: I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I’d certainly say that that can be a fantastic exercise.

So start there, maybe start by thinking, okay, if I can tell this story in a way that is going to entertain a three year old, that’s going to give you some of the language that you need to use. Because, I mean. Everybody over three has one thing in common, which is that they were a three year old once. And that means that if you’re using language that can appeal to a three year old, then it’s going to appeal to everyone over the age of three as well.

And that’s talking in [00:42:00] terms of clarity, that’s talking in terms of attraction and excitement as well. Maybe even inspiration, if your product or service is able to inspire. 

Jewels: Chip, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having this conversation. I clearly, well, you and I could clearly talk for three or four hours, I’m sure.

We probably could, couldn’t we? And maybe we can do this again, but what advice, just as a parting gesture, what advice would you give to, you know, somebody who’s perhaps a little bit frightened about the concept of storytelling? Because I often speak to entrepreneurs or business owners, CEOs, salespeople, like have this fear of.

Injecting too much of their own personality. They feel a little bit too vulnerable, perhaps. I always tell them things like, you know, your stories are the only thing that makes you unique. You know, if you’re telling, if you’re just talking about a product or service, there’s probably a thousand different products or services that are almost identical to yours.

So you’re [00:43:00] not going to stand out necessarily at a product or service level. Unless you’ve invented something that’s absolutely cutting edge and brand new, which is pretty rare these days, you’re just competing with all the other noise. You know, it just looks and feels and tastes exactly the same as everybody else’s.

The only thing that truly makes you unique is you. Right. And so by injecting your stories, nobody can tell my story of me buying my washing machine the way I tell that story, because it’s my story. You could steal it. Sure. You could listen to it and have a variant on your own, but it’s really my story.

And the way I’ll tell it to one person might be different, you know, as you say, I might vary it depending on who I’m speaking to. So it’s the only thing that really comes out and makes me unique. What advice would you give to somebody who’s maybe a bit scared of it, maybe doesn’t know how to start, but really wants to get on this path of, okay, I know I’ve got to tell some stories.

How would you do it? 

Chip Colquhoun: So I think it would be Making your, or making this episode of your [00:44:00]podcast really cyclical in a nice fashion, I hope, would be to go back to that phrase I said earlier on, which is, remember, this is not a performance. You are not trying to get all eyes on you. What you’re doing when you’re storytelling is you are helping somebody else to create a picture of you in their head, a picture of a scenario, something that they can empathize with.

And so really you are turning them inwards, getting them looking at their own life and how this story applies to them, the sort of support that it can give to them, the inspiration it can give to them. What are they going to get out from it? And there will always be something like that. You said it with countless of your guests before, I know there will always be something in a story that you can take away personally.

As the storyteller, though, the thing that should give you confidence is knowing that that’s what your listeners are going to be thinking. They’re not going to be thinking about you necessarily. They’re not going to be [00:45:00] judging you. They’re going to be looking inwards on themselves, wondering how it can apply to them.

And you know, if they don’t think it will, then they will move on. And that’s absolutely fine. There will be somebody else there who will listen to your story and it will click with them. It will be exactly what they need. So Just stop focusing on yourself. I think that is the key part. It’s a little bit counterintuitive, I guess, because you say you’re trying to tell your story.

So you have to think about yourself, right? But what you’re trying to do is think from the performance point of view, which is no, you don’t want all eyes on you. You want them to turn their own eyes. inwards. 

Jewels: Absolutely fabulous advice, Chip. Thank you so much. And thank you for taking me along your little journey there.

Nobody has ever asked me as many questions as you have, and we’ve never done an in situ workshop before. So thank you for putting me on the spot. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Where can people? [00:46:00]Find out a little bit more about you. The 

Chip Colquhoun: easiest way at the moment is to connect with me on social media. So on Facebook, I am Storyteller Chip on, is it Twitter or X now?

X I think we 

Jewels: are. That’s 

Chip Colquhoun: the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. You can get me their creator Chip or Instagram, it’s Creator chip. If I’m in any of those places, I will look forward to chatting with you. I will 

Jewels: put them all in the show notes. Thank you so much, and thank you. Let’s chat again soon.

I hope so. Cheers. Jewels.

I love Chip’s definition of storytelling compared to performers, and I must thank him again for the live workshop he took me through. It was not only fun, but stretched the imagination. I also love the overlaps in our storytelling workshops. Even though we have lived different experiences, our approaches are eerily similar.

Jewels: Much love, chat soon.[00:47:00]

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