July, 2022


Erika McClane,
English Communication Coach for IT professionals
Elizabeth Mc Donnell,
English Communication Coach for health professionals
Welcome to our summer newsletter from us both, Elizabeth and Erika. We hope you will be able to get out and enjoy the warm weather. Whether it's hiking, biking, or swimming, it's a wonderful time to be in the great outdoors!

What's new at Professional English Solutions? We are excited to announce our fourth podcast in the series Everyday English with Erika and Elizabeth! In our latest podcast, on the topic of storytelling, we interview Shirley, a non-native English speaker about how she uses storytelling at work and with her friends.

In this edition of our newsletter, we are going to explore the topic of storytelling. We will look at why narratives are important at work and in social settings. We will also examine the best way to structure a story to make it interesting and easy to follow for the listeners.
Everyday English with Erika & Elizabeth

Everyday English with Erika & Elizabeth is the podcast series that explores how native English speakers use the language in everyday settings.
Whether in work or social settings, everyday English can be challenging for non-native English speakers. The English language is full of colloquial terms, phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions.

Although everyday English is not as formal as professional or academic English, it is used in the workplace. It is important for professionals who are interacting with native speakers to understand such terms.
In this series, Erika McClane and Elizabeth Mc Donnell of Professional English Solutions explore some of the common challenges that learners of English have, and they offer some pointers on understanding everyday English.

Click here to listen to Episode 4: Storytelling What is storytelling?  In the pilot episode of the series, Erika and Elizabeth explore how we can use storytelling as an effective tool to connect on a deeper level with co-workers and friends. 

To do this, Erika interviewed Shirley, a non-native English speaker from China, who talks about her experiences using storytelling in her interactions at work and with friends.

Go to Professional English Solutions for more on how you can improve your everyday English.

Presented and written by Erika McClane and Elizabeth Mc Donnell
Production and editing by Jarek Zaba 
Artwork by Danielle Morrison 

Featured Article -- Storytelling 

By Erika McClane

What do you do when you want to tell others about an experience you've had? Do you just start talking and let the story unfold as you go, or do you follow some kind of framework to help organize the narrative? Does it depend on the situation that you are in, whether informal or formal?
Storytelling with co-workers
Let's start off by defining what storytelling can mean in a professional setting.

People often use storytelling without even knowing it. Here are some examples:

·      At work, when someone is giving a report or an explanation to their boss. 

·      When a salesperson is selling a product or promoting their company.

·      In a job interview, the interviewer might ask, "Can you give me an example of something you did well/poorly?
These are excellent opportunities to use storytelling to connect more with the person you are talking to
Storytelling with friends
When do we use storytelling in social settings? 

·      We often use storytelling to talk about an experience we've had. This can be humorous or more serious in nature. 

·      When we are talking to friends and family, we might want to tell them about our travels or an adventure we've had.

·      We especially like to tell narratives when we share events that have taught us a valuable lesson.

·      When we are making small talk, storytelling can serve as an anecdote to deepen the conversation.
Throughout human history we have used storytelling to connect with others.
Why is storytelling important?

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most natural ways to engage with others. It's a part of our culture and dates back to the dawn of humankind. People have always told stories to relate their experiences and keep the listeners interested. 

What is a good way to organize a story? The following framework is an excellent way to structure a story.

1.    What is the basic story?
2.    Background – where does the story take place?
3.    Characters – who will be the focus of your story?
4.    Climax – get the attention of the people listening to you.
5.    Conclusion – what will be the ending of your story?
6.    Lesson learned (take-away) Why are you telling this story? – what lesson do you want to teach people through your story?


·      Remember not to make your story too long, or you might lose your listeners' attention.

·      Try telling the same story to different people. After all, practice makes perfect!

·      Record your story. Does it follow the structure of the storytelling framework?
Here's a story of one of my travel adventures that I have told quite often. See if you can identify how I follow the framework mentioned above
Stranded in the Lagoon

I’ll never forget the time our family was almost washed out to sea in Tahiti. It was about 20 years ago, and I and my husband and two adult children were vacationing on a remote island in Tahiti. I remember it was a very hot day, and we were looking forward to cooling off in the water of the lagoon. So, we took a little motorboat out to a tiny uninhabited island, called Motu One.

After we got to the island, we enjoyed a swim in the crystal-clear water, but the sun was really beating down, so we decided to have our picnic lunch under a palm tree.

You’re not going to believe this, but we had forgotten to take something along to drink. So, we just ate our sandwiches. But, we were getting really thirsty, so we decided to head back to our house in the motorboat.

You’ll never guess what happened then! The motor wouldn’t start! We were getting really hot in the midday sun, and we were so thirsty! So, we decided to paddle our way back to our house using the only two paddles that were in the boat. But what we didn’t realize was that we had to paddle against a very strong current that was pulling us out to the open sea.

The scary thing was that even though my husband and my son were paddling as hard as they could, they weren’t paddling in sync with each other, so our boat wasn’t going where we wanted it to go. As a matter of fact, it was going backwards, out of the lagoon! We were all yelling and telling each other what to do, and there was a general sense of chaos. To top it all off, my daughter declared that she was getting out of the boat and swimming to shore!

Thankfully, at that moment, my husband got the motor to start again, and we made it home safely. 

My lesson learned is to try to stay calm when things don't go as planned. 

© Erika McClane for Professional English Solutions, July 2022

Get in touch with Erika or Elizabeth if you would like help with developing and improving your storytelling skills in English. 
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