Power of the Prompt: Story as a Team-building Experience
  #ChangeTheNarrator  #ChangeTheNarrative

  Linda Belans, EdD.


To build strong teams, over time, rooted in the belief that knowing each person’s work story helps sustain and motivate the team during times of success, as well as during times of stress and struggle.

When story is approached as sacred, teams have the capacity to make transcendent steps: They transition from working as individuals to a collective body moving in tandem and harmony toward a unified vision. During the process of storytelling, complementary talents, skills, and areas of growth emerge. This occurs when teams have the intention, patience, and commitment to embrace the unfolding of stories as a long-term process, rather than a short-term fix.


2 minutes per storyteller


Response Technique

It can be helpful to respond to prompts in present tense to bring the storyteller closer to the experience.  Example of present tense response to a prompt: Take us to a moment when you felt successful in your work.


This is the 5th day in a row that I’m trying, unsuccessfully, to get my 5th graders to understand why we need to walk quietly through the halls. I am just about to ask them to line up again when I am called out of the room. I return to find them lined up and waiting quietly to exit.



  • Prompts can be used at the beginning of team meetings to set tone and direction, or to narrow the frame toward a specific area of team development.

  • Prompts are intended to elicit brief responses of up to two minutes. (Exceptions can always be made during fragile moments that may emerge through the telling.)

  • It is helpful to begin the story session with a few minutes of silence or a poem/reading to create the sacred space.

  • The storyteller responds to the prompt in the present tense if possible;  listeners receive the story without interrupting.

  • The facilitator asks: What did you do to make this happen?

  • A colleague scribes keyword strengths in present tense for the storyteller so she can continue to engage her strengths, and others can learn from the experience.

  • Allow silence between each storyteller.

  • Use prompts sparingly, respectfully, and wisely.


Approach and receive prompts and stories in a respectful, sacred way. It is the responsibility of the team to listen without judgment or the need to do anything beyond being completely present in heart and mind. It is not the listeners’ responsibility to offer confirmation – or solace --, or to “fix” the person. The gift of listening is generally enough.








Take us to a moment [in your work] when you felt

  • Courageous

  • Smart

  • Seen

  • Taken seriously

  • Successful

  • You needed more (if you use this prompt, facilitate a second round with the next prompt below)

  • Grateful*

  • Uncertain (if you use this prompt, facilitate a second round with the next prompt below)

  • Certain

  • Misunderstood (if you use this prompt, facilitate a second round with the next prompt below)

  • Understood

  • A sense of belonging

  • Authentic

  • Completely in tune


Take us to a moment when you

  • Knew your students (colleagues) were learning what you set out to teach

  • Were in the zone in the classroom (PD)

  • Had a breakthrough with a student (colleague)


What have you called on to

  • Re-enter a challenging situation and reshape or transform it

  • Move a relationship forward

  • Be heard

  • Solve a problem when your big feelings were engaged?



  • Are you learning about yourself this year?

  • Is clearer to you?

Use freely with attribution

Linda Belans, Ed.D, Author, States of Being

Contact Linda Belans