As a child, I was a huge fan of Dr. Seuss’ children’s books. From “Green Eggs and Ham” to “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”, no one can deny what a storytelling genius Theodor Seuss Geisel was to children across the globe.


What you may not know is that one of his most popular books, “The Cat in the Hat”, was written because Dr. Seuss’ book publisher asked him to write and illustrate a children’s story using only 225 “new reader” vocabulary words. Using only new reader words would guarantee that the story told would be understood and easily repeatable with readers of almost any comprehension level.


One of today’s biggest corporate buzzwords is the term “storytelling”. The most effective leaders are able to tell a story in a way that everyone can understand, personally relate to, and repeat to others. The ability to do this well excites others to want to follow your lead . . . and isn’t that what every leader strives to do?


Your high potential (HIPO) employees are the individuals in your organization who have the highest probability of being placed into future leadership roles. It is critical to incorporate storytelling and executive presence curriculum into their development plans in order to increase their ability to rally their teams around important business initiatives and goals.


Give your HIPOs a chance to practice telling stories that excite our emotions, spread powerful messages, and drive real change. Encourage them to practice making their messages both compelling and extremely relevant to the company’s core values. Challenge them to make us think. Challenge them to make us feel.

Storytelling Mindmap

Great storytelling mindmap from ImageThink


Here is a sample exercise, called HIPO Headlines, that you can use to help develop your HIPOs’ storytelling abilities:

  1. Pair your HIPOs in groups of 2.
  2. Ask each individual to write a headline for a breaking news article, occurring 2 years in the future, of what your company/team has miraculously accomplished.
  3. Then have them pass the headline to their partner and have the partner write the story, with a focus on it being memorable and repeatable. Writing stories for others helps HIPOs practice being agile and “selling” leadership edicts being handed down to them.
  4. Have each HIPO share their story with the large group and facilitate a discussion on what were the most memorable “sound bites” and why.


Additional Tips:

-Have your HIPOs meet up again in a few days and ask them to repeat some of the sound bites of the stories they heard during the last meeting. Discuss how easily understandable and repeatable the stories were. This will help your HIPOs better understand what sticks in the minds of others.

– Have your HIPOs use the Flesch Reading Ease Readability Formula: The Flesch Reading Ease Formula is considered as one of the oldest and most accurate readability formulas. It assesses the comprehension grade-level of the story. A score greater than 70 is considered good for comprehension and readability. There is a free Fleach caluculator HERE where your HIPOs can cut and paste their stories to analyze them.

Interested in bringing a storytelling workshop to your team?  We can help.  Let’s set up some time to chat.