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Workshop 9: Storytelling with Impact: Mastering the Practical Science of Influential Communication


Evan Sinar, DDI
Amy D. Grubb, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)


Don Lustenberger, Development Dimensions International (DDI)


As I-O psychologists and HR professionals, our success in driving workplace change and executing data-driven practices is bounded by our ability to creatively advise and persuade business professionals. We will bypass generic “tell a story” advice to instead illustrate practical techniques and research-grounded approaches for crafting communications that incite audiences to act.

Full Description:

This workshop will begin by answering the questions: Which messages lend themselves to a persuasive story? What criteria should be used to evaluate how worthwhile and compelling the data are for telling a story? What’s required to compel business professionals to move from the status quo? What forms of communication are best suited for certain audiences (e.g., executives) and intended outcomes (e.g., strategic decision-making)? We’ll review the science of storytelling, drawing on multidisciplinary research on structure (e.g., exposition, climax, resolution), type taxonomies, and the factors making one message more memorable and influential than another. We’ll describe examples of high-impact data-centered stories. Next, we’ll provide guidance on recommended story crafting techniques including visualization, interactivity, and narrative inquiry. We’ll conclude the workshop with a “use it tomorrow” job aid and access to a curated, regularly updated resource website.

Intended Audience:

Intermediate and general audience at the post-graduate level. This workshop is appropriate for early-career through experienced I-O psychologists and HR professionals whose work involves communicating with and influencing non-technical, business professional, or executive-level audiences. The content will extend participants’ graduate educations – oriented heavily toward communication to similarly-technical audiences – by providing practical techniques for persuasive messaging of highly complex and technical information for non-technical audiences.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop self-interrogation skills regarding the rationale, purpose, and audience for a message to determine which story crafting strategies are appropriate and feasible
  • Demonstrate and implement a repeatable, broadly generalizable process for story creation that draws on both recent research and long-established principles
  • Apply practical techniques to improve memorability and influence of messaging

Presenter Biographies:

Evan Sinar, Ph.D. is Chief Scientist and Vice President at DDI. In this role, Evan partners with global client organizations to architect and execute analytics initiatives to demonstrate and strengthen the impact of leadership assessment and development programs on individual-level behavior change and organizational-level business objectives. Evan and his team produce contemporary, prescriptive, and highly-visual thought leadership about emerging talent trends and research-grounded people practices. Evan has been recognized as a top worldwide influencer on leading-edge topics such as HR Analytics, Data Visualization, Data Science, and Internet of Things. He has authored over 80 presentations and articles for major publications and conferences and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Business and Psychology, and Journal of Personnel Assessment and Decisions. Evan received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Bowling Green State University. He served on SIOP’s Executive Board from 2014 to 2017 and is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

Amy D. Grubb is the senior Industrial/Organizational Psychologist at the FBI. In her eighteen years with the FBI, she has been responsible for the implementation of a number of change initiatives, from serving as a leader on the post-9/11 enterprise-wide cultural transformation of the FBI to building and implementing HR initiatives at all levels. An FBI Director’s Award for Excellence recipient for creating the organizational development function at the FBI, she instituted the first corporate-wide FBI Annual Employee Survey and has extensively integrated it with organizational processes and operational programs. She advises C-suite and executive leaders on risk from the human capital perspective regarding organizational and individual performance, serves as executive coach to a number of leaders, and works extensively with nearly all populations within the FBI, from Special Agents to pilots to Intelligence Analysts to mid-level and executive populations within both the Special Agent and Professional Staff ranks. In addition, she served on the FBI’s Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects), has written several articles and book chapters, presented numerous papers at professional conferences, has served on advisory boards both internal and external to the FBI, and liaisons extensively within the government and the private sector communities. Amy also received a second FBI Director’s Award for Excellence for development and implementation of an integrated Leadership Development Program for all employees at all stages of the employment lifecycle, and was a recipient of the 2014 SIOP/SHRM HR Impact Award for her work on leadership promotion. Amy has served on multiple committees within SIOP, and earned her Ph.D. (1999) and M.A. (1997) in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Houston, and bachelor’s degree from Villanova University.

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