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Telling tales – stories that have an impact

My idea of a story used to mean something that began ‘Once upon a time…’, but that view was overturned after I attended the UK’s first knowledge mobilisation forum earlier this year.

‘Knowledge mobilisation’ is not a well-used term in the UK, where ‘knowledge exchange’ is more familiar. In fact, neither term is widely-used, but it’s basically being able to tell other people about what’s important to you and them “getting it”.  Properly getting it.

I’d heard about the importance of the narrative in making compelling arguments, but to be honest, I hadn’t really understood what that meant. I’d vaguely thought that it was the latest way to describe a thoughtfully-compiled newsletter or fiendishly sharp tweet.

ARCC network, like plenty of other organisations, is in the business of encouraging different groups to work more effectively together. We’re trying to make better conversations between policy makers, professionals and researchers in the built environment and infrastructure sectors. So I was struggling to see how a fairy tale would help.

This knowledge mobilisation event really gave me the chance to see how story-telling can engage people in a way that really makes a difference. Describing the latest research output can seem a rather dry task, but once you start to think of the story: how does it make my reader feel, how can I show that I will make things better, can I make them see things a bit differently;  then it becomes something new.

The challenge is less about describing my methodology or sharing a risk framework (although these remain important), and more about finding a connection with the reader (or viewer or listener) that will let us understand each other better.

So expect to see a stronger narrative across the ARCC network’s communications in the coming months.

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