What is Event Storytelling?

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Every event has a purpose, a reason for being planned...and within that purpose there is a unique and compelling story to tell.  As an Event Storyteller, I dig deep, to go beyond the surface or the obvious to find the true story at the heart of the event and then I use that as my launching pad for the design.  

A favourite example of this is an event I designed a few years ago for a national retailer.  About every two years this well known company hosts a large event celebrating their employee's years of service.  About 1500 employees from across the organization are invited to celebrate their time with the company.  This particular year they really wanted to make sure everyone felt that they were key contributors to the organization whether they were buyers, administrative staff, forklift operators, shipper/receivers or front-line staff in the stores.  At first we thought about hi-lighting the various roles, but with multiple divisions and thousands of employees there were just too many to capture.   

As I began to look deeper at what made the employees key contributors and what they were contributing to; the true event story began to show itself.  This particular retailer has been part of the Canadian fabric for decades.  Its offerings have evolved over the years and it has become synonymous with shopping for items aimed at an active lifestyle.  I began to connect it to some of my own best memories and realized that this retailer has played a role in many important moments in the lives of Canadians. That was the story at the heart of it all...that these employees, from across the organization, had all played a part in creating memorable moments.

Building on the concept of "Moments" we began to connect life experiences to departments in the retail store; sporting goods connected with camping with the family and scoring that first goal, housewares connected to baking cookies with grandma, automotive connected with working on the engine of your first used car and so on.  These "Moments" suddenly became tangible and easily translated to decorative vignettes, menu design and interactive activities.  Once we had identified the core purpose and message, the story began to write itself because it was real and authentic.

That is what Event Storytelling is.  It's not a pretty party or big name entertainment, it is communicating an idea, an emotion, a truth...through creative event design. It's immersing your guests in an environment that leaves them with a deeper sense of understanding without having to spell it out in 1001 words.  It's experiential.

When thinking about your next event I encourage you to dig deeper and look under the shiny surface for the true beating heart.  That is the story you want to tell and your best opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Kimberly Beaune, CMP, CSEP 
Kimberly is an Event Storyteller. A veteran of the Live Events Industry, she has spent years leading teams in creating award winning events through the power of story.  She owns and operates Creative Twist Inc. a successful event production and design firm.  Kimberly is also President-Elect for the International Live Events Association Toronto Chapter.