Last year in Scotland many of us celebrated The Year of Young People. It was the latest of Scotland’s themed years, an engaging government initiative to promote different aspects of Scottish life and culture. We’d already enjoyed a year of homecoming, a year of food and drink and many more, but this one was a bit special because, in many ways, the young people took the lead and – of course – stole the show!

As far as I can tell, the whole thing was a great success. Lots of different organisations were inspired to allow young people to step up and step out. There were new events, new opportunities, new funding – much of it inspired by or led by the young people themselves.

And of course there were stories a-plenty.

In fact, stories were one of the great aspects of the whole thing. So, for example, Young Scot celebrated the year by sharing a story about a young person for every day of the year. The year has finished now but the fabulous thing about the stories is that they live on.

To quote a native American proverb, “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.

Telling the story

I like it – this idea that the year needs a focus. So this year, here at Cygnus Extra, it’s going to be the year of the story. Our work is all based around helping organisations communicate – using writing with clarity of purpose and style. Lots of what we do is focused around writing style and tone, but it’s also about storytelling – helping businesses, charities and government agencies identify the stories that will engage customers, clients and service users, inspiring them to take action.

Making the connection

One of the things I love about the work I do is meeting so many different people and hearing why they do what they do. Just a few weeks ago I did an interview with two women who started a business making “free-from” cakes because they were struggling to find the products they wanted and needed to meet their own and their families’ needs. They started from their own kitchens, supplying farmer’s markets, and now, a few years down the road, they operate out of a pristine food production factory in central Scotland and supply many of the UK’s supermarkets. Their journey involved dedication, sacrifice and a deal of grit.

Stories like that are inspiring.

Hearing stories of struggle, change, transformation, growth and motivation can spur us on. And stories can give us goosebumps – we identify with the person in the story, share the emotion and get wrapped up in the drama of the situation. That’s why we consume stories as entertainment, but it’s also why stories work in the world of work. Stories enable us to make the connection.

Storytelling is everywhere

Oh, and we’re not alone. As I browse around, thinking about my storytelling enthusiasm I’ve discovered that Social Media Week have designated this as their year of the story too. Well that’s fine with me. Social media is the perfect platform. It needs stories like a knife needs a fork.

Story of the Year

So, what will your story of the year be? It might come left field, or it might grow out of a deliberate vision. We think ours might be around developing the kind of storytelling we do – exploring new mediums, new methods and new initiatives that will help our clients to think about how they can tell the stories that make the connections.

Here’s to a year of storytelling!