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I recently attended the Association Forum of Chicagoland Holiday Showcase. In reviewing the the sessions, I was intrigued by a session called, “Make Your Meetings Memorable with Storytelling.” As a longtime fan of storytelling, I have been surprised at the extent to which stories have become so commonplace in our culture. The
number of podcasts that have embraced storytelling as a way to share knowledge, interests and common experience has exploded in the past few years. However, it has always seemed like something people did for enjoyment.

Until I took on the role as product owner at NimbleUser, I had no idea how powerful storytelling could be as a tool for achieving business goals. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to tell the story of associations in a way that allows our development team to build our product to be more user friendly to our customers. So I was pleased to see how associations are looking to use storytelling as a way to improve member experiences at meetings and events.

As a former executive director of the American Public Gardens Association, it was always easy to create a memorable experience for our members at the events held outside the facility where our conference was being held. After all, we had access to some of the most beautiful venues in the world. However, it always felt like we were trying to fabricate a truly authentic experience through the session content. Had we considered storytelling as an approach to providing content, I think we could have achieved some important goals:

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  1. Allow members to connect at a deeper level through shared experiences and common ground.
    By creating lasting connections through storytelling, members will have access to a wider network of people to help them address opportunities and challenges in their daily work lives. 
  2. Create lasting memories that members can access long after the conference is over.
    Take a moment to reflect on those things you remember most about experiences you have had, and it will likely involve a story that someone told you. 
  3. Inspire people through emotions.
    One of the things stories do differently than typical meeting content is to create an emotional response. By tapping into people’s emotions, you can help them better understand others and improve their daily interactions.


I hope this has provided some food for thought. How will you use storytelling to create an authentic member experience through your events, publications, web content and more?