Storytelling has structure

Don’t just say people need to be educated. Figure out how to tell the risk story.

We’ve talked about storytelling a lot on barfblog. Doug and I published a couple of papers a few years ago on using narratives to impact food safety behaviors (here and here). Doug has always stressed the importance of not only being a good storyteller, but that there’s structure to a good story.

I just watched Don Schaffner give a talk on food safety risk assessment at the Dubai International Food Safety Conference and while some might consider it a dry concept, Don told two stories that exemplified how it all works.

A recent podcast name check caused me to check out Community and Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon and his storytelling circle (right, exactly as shown, from an excellent old Wired article).

And there’s this classic from Kurt Vonnegut.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.