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The Power of the Spoken Word

Jun 17th 2019

Sarah Dryden from Wavelength SpeakersHub shares why storytelling is more important than ever in leadership.

We are currently living in a world of information overload. With the internet providing easy access to hundreds (if not thousands) of articles, sources, comment, opinions, ephemera etc. And with generations now growing up digital natives, learning and development cannot not somehow follow suit.

Despite the proliferation of online and virtual classroom content, time and time again at Wavelength we are reminded of the sheer effectiveness of a learning method as old as time. That is storytelling, and the power of the spoken word.

At Wavelength we’ve spent years watching how people learn, adapt to change, rise to challenges and become better leaders. And we unequivocally assert that leaders learn best from leaders.

Talks, speeches, presentations (there are several different ways to describe them!) provide something that no classroom or digital platform can. And that’s a connection to the passion and purpose of the speaker.

It’s people talking warts n’ all, sharing stories of success from failure. Their personal and professional journeys brought to life with genuine emotion, candour and warmth, that resonates in unique and unforgettable ways.

In fact, the art of ‘storytelling’ is ancient. Nobody knows when the first story was told but it’s thought likely to be around a campfire in the gloomy recess of a cave, told by primitive man. The priest, the judge and ruler where perhaps the earliest to use the art effectively and good story tellers became highly respected members of clans and communities.

Stories came in all variety: myths, legends, fairy tales, trickster stories, fables, ghost tales, hero stories and epic adventures. Passing down through generations, the stories reflected the wisdom and knowledge of the people and played a key role in the way societies evolved.

It is believed by historians and psychologists that storytelling is significant in how we define and bind our humanity.

Fast forward to today and we see this as much as ever. The organisation that is TED (standing for technology, education, design) is driven by the goal to spread great ideas. It has attracted a massive global audience united by curiosity and open-mindedness with TED talks watched online all over the world averaging 17 new page views a second. An ex-teacher Ken Robinson in 2006 delivered a talk which has now reached an astonishing 57 million views (about schools killing creativity). The topic was interesting, but it was the humour, passion and wisdom in the delivery that captivated so many.

Podcasts experienced a massive surge in popularity last year, drawing in numbers that led to ad revenue growing to an estimated $479.1 million, a 53 per cent rise year-on-year (source: MSN).

It seems we’re as eager as ever to listen, learn from and be inspired by the stories of others. And in a digital age, it’s the human connection that continues to win the day!

Even more so if you can be in the same room as the storyteller. Which is why (shameless plug alert!) we set about building Wavelength’s SpeakersHub, which curates a selection of brilliant, insightful, warm and wonderful speakers across a range of topics that very much deal with the ‘now’. That’s disruption, business transformation, innovation, technology, future gazing, culture, sustainability and the list goes on.

Why did we do this? It all comes back to leaders learning best from leaders. We pride ourselves on cultivating a hub where we can find speakers for all occasions, with many and varied specialisms to talk to many different types of audiences.

All the speakers are different, but one thing unites them. They have been there and done it. They have learnt the hard way (which let’s face it is the way we all learn). They will talk about failure as much as success. They have worked within companies leading in their specialist areas (examples include Google, LEGO group, AirBNB, John Lewis & Partners, Rocketspace to name a few).

More than ever, this was highlighted at Wavelength’s recent Speakers Showcase. Ten of our speakers gave micro (10 minute) presentations and spoke from their heart as well as their own experience.

As moderator Matt White summed up: “No guru or management speak, no abstract theories, just stories delivered with authenticity and passion told by real people.”

Watch this space for more content from the speakers themselves as we will be releasing more blogs on topics such as disruption and culture in the coming weeks and months and sharing tips and insights from Wavelength’s Speakers Hub speakers.

We are running a webinar with Lego’s David Gram on How to Become an Innovator and Diplomatic Rebel and Why You Need to Be One! This takes place on 25th June at 11am BST. You can sign up here for free.

To book a speaker from Wavelength SpeakersHub please contact Sarah Dryden at