Classics lecturers at The University of Nottingham have been helping business people to understand how ancient stories of gods, heroes and monsters can help them to communicate successfully in the modern business world.
Developed by University academics, Esther Eidinow and Katharina Lorenz, ‘The Business of Stories’ draws on Greek and Roman myths as a way of explaining how businesses can tell their stories in a more effective way
One business that has already benefitted from the unique programme is a firm of architects in Lincolnshire. Based near Stamford, Arctica specialises in designing buildings for the particular process requirements and manufacturing needs of their clients.
The Business of Stories
Directors Jon Fowler and Niall McQuitty noticed that The University of Nottingham was running an ‘Ingenuity’ breakfast event called ‘The Business of Stories’ and decided to go along to find out if it could be applied to their business.
Niall and Jon were so inspired by the session that they were among the first to sign-up to a follow up ‘Ingenuity’ workshop for businesses, also run by Esther and Katharina.
After attending the workshop, Niall said: “It became clear that we weren’t fundamentally telling our story at all, rather just rambling through our history when we presented to clients. We also thought we only had one story to tell, but we actually need to be able to tell a lot more than that – stories within stories.”
Developing a consistent message
Realising that ‘storytelling’ was something that would be invaluable for all their staff, Niall and Jon invited Katharina and Esther to develop a specific training course for Arctica’s team.
“It was a brilliant way to find out what our staff thought and to develop a consistent message,” said Jon. “We looked at how to apply their theories to our website and marketing materials, and we now know that we need to change them quite a lot in order to get our stories across more effectively in future.”
He added: “The lessons learnt from the course are extremely useful and if you have any doubts about the efficacy of your marketing strategy, then I would absolutely recommend attending because it will make a world of difference.”
Using ancient myths
In the course, Esther and Katharina use ancient myths to help business people to explore the way they are currently telling their story. In particular, they work with archetypal characters that stand the test of time, and with which people easily identify. They also get the group to think about the basic tools of story-telling in text and image, the building blocks of a good story, how to create a story-line, and how to present it.
“We both work on ancient Greek and Roman cultures,” said Katharina Lorenz. “We explore and analyse traditional stories and myths from the ancient world which were used in a variety of different contexts and for all sorts of different purposes. This has given us a good understanding of the power of ancient myths, and stories and storytelling.”
Speaking about the programme they developed for Arctica, Esther Eidinow said: “It’s important that staff think about and develop the character of the company that they want to project to their customers, and how to use specific media, for example, a website. As part of this, they need to consider the kinds of narratives that they want to tell about the work that they do, to highlight their achievements and the skills they can offer clients.
Shared understanding of goals and values
“We have also found that our approach works well as a way to reflect on communication structures within a company. It helps people to generate a shared understanding of their company’s goals and values.”
The Business of Stories is one of a number of workshops, drawing on leading academic expertise, which The University of Nottingham offers for local businesses through its Ingenuity programme.
For more details about forthcoming Ingenuity events and workshops, visit
For further information about ‘The Business of Stories’, contact Gemma Morgan-Jones at The University of Nottingham on Gemma.Morgan-Jones@nottingham.ac.uk or phone 0115 748 4782.
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