In this LinkedIn Live, one of India’s finest orators and storytellers, Roshan Abbas, Founder, Kommune India joined us as guest speaker. He spoke about leveraging storytelling for business impact. The session covered critical elements of storytelling & why it is important for businesses and techniques to incorporate storytelling into business strategies.


  • Storytelling is a powerful communication tool often underestimated in its relevance.
  • It can be used beyond entertainment, such as in business contexts for vision, strategy, and personal reputation.
  • Developing storytelling skills requires practice, analysis of structures, and studying effective storytellers.
  • Authenticity and connecting data to compelling stories make information relevant and impactful.
  • To start the storytelling journey, gather a team and seek guidance from professionals.
  • Utilize online resources and engage in daily writing exercises.
  • Storytelling can build connections, create a human context in presentations, and make information engaging.
  • Determining the ROI of storytelling involves attaching it to business metrics and measuring engagement and behavioral changes.
  • Recommended books on storytelling include “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking.”


Gatik Chaujer – Let’s break down some common myths about storytelling in the workplace. As a trusted partner in helping leaders become better storytellers, we encounter these myths frequently. It’s important to shed light on these misconceptions and provide a fresh perspective. So, what are the big myths that need busting?

Roshan Abbas – Let’s debunk some common myths surrounding storytelling in business. One prevalent myth I often encounter is that storytelling is only for entertainment and lacks relevance. However, I believe that storytelling holds immense power to effectively communicate and add value across various contexts.

Another misconception I’ve come across is that storytelling is time-consuming and cannot be learned. In my experience, I have witnessed how storytelling skills can be honed and developed with practice and guidance.

Additionally, some people tend to associate storytelling solely with marketing and advertising, overlooking its broader business applications. But I firmly believe that storytelling goes beyond marketing and can be a powerful tool for conveying vision, strategy, organizational competence, and even personal reputation. It allows us to shape narratives, engage audiences, and guide the narrative towards our desired outcomes.

Gatik Chaujer – What’s your take, Roshan How much of storytelling is art versus science, and can it be learned? And for our viewers interested in becoming skilled storytellers or investing in storytelling for their organizations, what message do you have?

Roshan Abbas – Steve Jobs is often seen as a master presenter, but even he dedicated hours to practicing and perfecting his speeches. The same goes for anyone looking to become a skilled storyteller. Just like you spend weeks or months preparing a strategy or presentation, you need to invest time in honing your storytelling skills. There are principles and techniques to learn, such as creating a captivating hook, establishing a protagonist and an obstacle, and defining a goal. While there are various storytelling formats, mastering the art can be achieved through analyzing structures, studying effective storytellers, and understanding your audience.

Remember, storytelling is a skill that can be acquired, just as we learned stories as children without formal training. It’s about learning on the job, through experience and communication.

Gatik Chaujer – It’s important to change our mindset about storytelling, recognizing that it can be used for more than just entertainment. As you mentioned, even great storytellers like Steve Jobs put in extensive preparation and practice. Spontaneity is often the result of rehearsed practice. So, with a learner’s approach, one can acquire storytelling skills. I recall a workshop where a participant questioned the need to learn storytelling, highlighting that we all engage in storytelling naturally. However, there’s a distinction between pub storytelling (casual storytelling for entertainment) and business storytelling. Business storytelling requires planning, structure, key messages, dilemmas, and outcomes. By understanding the science and structure of business storytelling, one can excel in this skill.

Roshan Abbas – I often share personal stories in my daily communication and storytelling. In presentations, I start with a slide titled “Since we last met,” highlighting achievements like organizing the IPL opening ceremony across multiple cities in three weeks, working with Andre Agassi, and creating an anthem for a leading bank in India with Gulzar. These brief anecdotes effectively showcase our reputation, experience, expertise, and delivery.

Let me shift the focus from myself to well-known companies with different approaches. For instance, General Electric faced a relevancy challenge and responded by creating fictional podcasts like “The Message.” This podcast, discussing innovation and technology through storytelling, became hugely popular and sparked discussions.

Companies like Accenture, Deloitte, and EY have also embraced podcasting to share stories from leaders and experts, demonstrating their access to valuable information.

Popular brands like Amul engage in topical and immediate storytelling. Instead of just talking about butter, they relate their product to relevant and current events. By utilizing storytelling, they create a connection between their product and the audience, adding moments of delight to their mornings. Numerous examples exist, and I could continue sharing them for hours, but these are some notable ones.

Gatik Chaujer – Authenticity and making numbers meaningful through storytelling are two crucial aspects. I recall a video featuring Steve Jobs discussing how to position the iPod to his team. The marketing team emphasized its 10-gigabyte data capacity, but Jobs questioned its significance. He transformed the number’s meaning by saying, “You can listen to music on your way to the moon and back.” This example demonstrates that storytelling can infuse data with meaning. Despite the perception that storytelling and data are separate, they can actually complement each other seamlessly.

Roshan Abbas – A 10-gigabyte data capacity can be translated into simpler terms, such as storing 10,000 favorite songs, countless memories and pictures, and connecting with thousands of contacts. These examples highlight the soft value that the hard drive carries.

I constantly emphasize the value of preserving stories. Over my 30 years of storytelling, I’ve saved numerous anecdotes, quotes, and jokes on my phone. Meta tagging these stories is crucial. For instance, I have a collection of motivational tales and another for success stories. Creating a small group, whether in college or at work, where you meet regularly to exchange stories can be immensely rewarding. Initially, there might be hesitation, but if you commit and follow through, you’ll become the richest person with stories for every moment. After sharing a story, ask others to write down three key messages—a form of meta tagging that helps categorize and remember each story’s aspects. This practice is an investment that pays off for a lifetime.

Gatik Chaujer – Crafting stories is the real challenge in storytelling. You can only be as good a storyteller as the stories you possess. That’s why learning to craft stories is crucial. Create a story bank, just as Roshan suggested, and focus on meta tagging the key messages of each story. Real-life experiences are valuable in the business context, so it’s recommended to use them rather than relying solely on parables and fables. Everyone has had experiences, both successes and failures, that can be transformed into stories. These stories should be meta tagged, stored, and readily available for when you need them the most. Roshan’s use of meta tags on his phone’s notes is a fantastic example.

Roshan Abbas – Even now, with the advancements in technology, it’s easier to capture and share stories. For example, Apple’s screenshot feature and Kindle’s highlighting function are convenient tools. In Kindle, you can even see the most highlighted sections of a book, which have been identified by numerous readers. These simple hacks help in finding the best moments and stories to share.

When telling a story, it’s important to differentiate between rambling and effective storytelling. I often emphasize the concept of small “s” and big “S” stories. To understand this better, I recommend exploring the hero’s journey, outlined in Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” It provides a framework for epic storytelling found in various works like Mahabharata, Roman mythology, Lagaan, Superman, Matrix, Lion King, Baahubali, and more.

On the other hand, small storytelling involves a simple structure: start with a hook, introduce the protagonist, present the obstacle, and establish the goal. By understanding these elements, you can craft engaging stories. Visual cues, emotions, descriptions, and scenic settings can further enhance your storytelling.

Remember to be mindful of the message you want to convey. Avoid rambling and maintain focus on the story’s purpose. Practice the “right, lead, reduce, repeat” rule: write the initial draft honestly, then lead and reduce it to the essence of the story. This allows you to expand or condense the story as needed, based on the time available.

Gatik Chaujer – Picking up a question from the audience, when you’re using storytelling in the business context, in the work context, should you look at the end first, and then figure out the story, or vice versa?

Roshan Abbas – When crafting stories for specific occasions, it’s essential to determine the key message you want to convey. Filter your stories through this sieve, selecting the ones that serve your intended purpose. If you’re engaging in open storytelling, explore various stories and ideas. Writing three pages by hand every morning, as suggested in Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” can help clarify your thoughts and generate storytelling material. For continuous storytelling practice, create visual flashcards or a board where you organize and connect your stories based on themes like optimism or hope.

Remember, not all stories have to be personal; they can be a mix of personal and borrowed narratives as long as they are shared with honesty and authenticity. Avoid rambling and ensure your stories are grounded in truth to maintain their impact and credibility.

Gatik Chaujer – The last question I have for you Roshan is what advice would you give to either individuals or businesses who want to start using storytelling at the workplace? Where should they begin?

Roshan Abbas – To start my storytelling journey, I believe the perfect approach is to gather my team and invite an inspirational professional who can guide us.

Having someone knowledgeable in the art and craft of storytelling can leave us with actionable insights. There are plenty of online resources available, including free ones and leadership coaching programs.

Personally, I offer workshops, but finding a mentor or guide is also a great option. If resources are limited or I prefer a self-paced approach, I can search for the best stories in business and personal leadership online and read voraciously.

As Guy Kawasaki said, “Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant.” It means absorbing countless stories and reflecting on why they resonate with me. I need to find that sweet spot between thinking I’m uninteresting or overly fascinating and ask myself if my stories are worth sharing and if they leave a meaningful impact.

One exercise I recommend is writing three pages every morning, though even a paragraph or some notes can be a good start.

Our surroundings are brimming with stories, and even our profiles can become billboards for sharing snippets of our experiences. 

Gatik Chaujer – We have a question from the audience, what kind of situations can we use storytelling in?

Roshan Abbas
Thank you for the question. There are, there are multiple ways in which you could be using it.

  • Stories can be used as an introduction to build common ground and establish a human connection when meeting new people.
  • In presentations, stories are effective in creating a human context and making the audience relate to the topic being presented.
  • Stories help humanize facts and make them more engaging, especially when discussing initiatives that impact individuals or specific groups.

    Stories have a versatile application and can be utilized in various situations, depending on the desired outcome.

Gatik Chaujer – There’s also another question around storytelling – Where do we draw the line between getting creative and being realistic while writing. How do you kind of balance that in the workplace as a leader as a manager using a story?

Roshan Abbas – Authenticity is essential in storytelling, particularly in a business context where information can be verified. While adding emotional resonance through exaggeration is possible, it’s important to remain factual and stick to experiences that can be validated. Being truthful adds credibility and trustworthiness to your story. You can get creative with expression and setting, but it’s crucial to stay grounded in reality and avoid straying from the facts.

Gatik Chaujer – So here’s a question about measuring return on investment on storytelling in the workplace?

Roshan Abbas – Determining the ROI of storytelling depends on what you want to measure. Clearly defining your objectives is crucial. For sales teams, improved conversion rates and customer engagement can be indicators of success. In qualitative scenarios, such as training before a conference or speaking to staff, measuring audience engagement becomes more subjective. Surveys can help measure relevance, influence, or audience recall of stories. Another approach is to assess whether stories shared with the press resonated and were published. Trust between the trainer, learners, and the organization is essential. Consider conducting post-session surveys or evaluating the effectiveness of storytelling in achieving specific goals.

Gatik Chaujer – Determining the ROI of storytelling can be approached in three ways:

  • Attach storytelling to business metrics, such as sales conversion rates.
  • Measure engagement, such as increased viewer time during virtual events.
  • Conduct pre and post assessments to evaluate behavioral changes.

    Choose the most relevant metric based on your organization’s needs and where you are in your storytelling journey.

Gatik Chaujer – What are some recommendations for books to learn storytelling?

Roshan Abbas – Here are a few recommended books on storytelling:

Gatik Chaujer – Thank you very much. I hope when I meet you next I start my conversation with you by saying since we last met. Thank you so much for watching.