Zooming Around 
by Kat Koppett


The same series of events or information can be transformed into a myriad of stories. This exercise helps the storyteller work like a movie camera—zooming in for close focus, zooming out for a broader picture—in order to highlight elements of a process that is being relayed. The storyteller can zoom in or out on an action, a descriptive detail or an emotion.

The key element of this interactive story is that the storyteller tells the story and is periodically instructed by a “director” to “zoom in” or “zoom out”.

To review and reinforce key steps and principles in a work process.

Any number, organized into pairs.

10 to 20 minutes.

Divide the participants into pairs. Have the pair identify one person as “A” and the other as “B”. Ask B to act as the storyteller and A as the Director.

Explain how the storyteller and the director interact with each other:

The storyteller begins telling her story. The director periodically instructs the storyteller to zoom in. The storyteller focuses on a detail within the story and provides additional information.From time to time, the director instructs the storyteller to zoom out. The storyteller moves to a higher-level view.

Sometimes the director may say “zoom in” or “zoom out” more than once in a row to get wide variations of levels in the story.The director continues in this way until the process is finished or time is up.Announce a suitable time limit of 5 to 10 minutes. Ask storytellers to begin. Start a timer.

Circulate among participants, eavesdropping in on different stories. However, don't interfere with the flow of the activity.When the allotted time is up, stop the activity.

Ask the directors and storytellers to exchange roles and repeat the process.

Have participants work alone, writing their stories on paper. From time to time, call out “zoom in” and “zoom out” to the whole group.

Use the technique as an interactive lecture. Encourage participants to direct you to zoom in and out during your lecture presentation.

Have members of one team tell a story while members of the other team direct the flow of the story.

A Sample Application: Telemarketing

Facilitator: Please begin.

Storyteller: Once upon a time there was an outbound sales rep named Peter. Every day, Peter called prospects from his database.

Director: Zoom in.

Storyteller: He clicked on the dial icon on his computer and waited for the dialer to ring a prospect. Once the prospect answered, Peter said, “Hello.”

Director: Zoom out.

Storyteller: Peter greeted the prospect and attempted to make a sale.

Director: Zoom in.

Storyteller: Peter probed to uncover the prospect's needs.

Director: Zoom in.

Storyteller: Peter asked open-ended questions about the prospect's current situation.

Director: Zoom out.

Storyteller: After identifying the needs, Peter asked the prospect how he might help him. Working with the prospect, Peter some services that his organization could provide.

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