On telling stories but hearing snippets: Sense-taking from presentations of practice

David Sims, Chris Huxham, Nic Beech

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    The practice of inviting managers and leaders to make formal presentations telling the story of their experience to others is widespread. In this article we explore these as a way of looking at how audiences learn and change from stories they are told. We considered a range of speakers from high profile 'circuit speakers' to little known 'experience sharers'. We develop a conceptualization of the way members of an audience learn from the stories that are told by speakers. We started from the expectation that people would feel that they had learned most from stories that came over as 'factual description', with causal connections, attributed agency and intentional acts. Our investigation, however, found that people remembered, and said that they had changed because of, stories that were rich in 'decorative' detail but which had little practical detail on what the speaker actually did or why. What was retained by audience members were snippets of a story which could be reconstituted later by the listener for their own purposes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)371-388
    Number of pages18
    JournalOrganization Studies (OS)
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2009


    • Imagination
    • Learning
    • Narrative
    • Public presentations
    • Storytelling

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business,Management and Accounting
    • Strategy and Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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