Safety Culture

Use Storytelling to Boost Your Safety Culture

Does your company’s safety culture tell a story that will have a happy ending, one where every one of your employees will go home safe? Storytelling can have a profound impact on your organizational culture, and it has the power to motivate employees to act and create positive change. We’re learning more in a Q&A with Dave Lieber, President of Yankee Cowboy Publishing and the opening keynote speaker at Safety Culture 2019.

Safety culture positive team

Dima Sidelnikov /

Dave will deliver his keynote address, “The Power of Storytelling to Promote a Winning Safety Culture,” at the start of Day 1 of the main conference of Safety Culture 2019, taking place this September 18–20 in Denver, Colorado.

Q: An effective safety culture is highly dependent on good employee engagement. What role does storytelling play in developing and maintaining this engagement at a company?

Stories are the best and often the most efficient way to communicate. Stories show the personality behind the person, and always make the communicator memorable. That’s just human nature. When I was a young newspaper reporter covering the county courthouse, I’d visit all the secretaries and office holders on my rounds hunting for news. And the way I befriended them was through quick stories that always perked their interest and made me more fun to be around than most reporters (I hope).

By the way, notice what I did there. I answered your question and then drove it home with a simple story that illustrated the point I want to make.

Q: What are 3 storytelling best practices when it comes to shaping organizational culture?

  1. Learn the simplest yet most powerful story formula (I’ll be showing that in my opening keynote).
  2. Devise ways to take data and turn it into stories.
  3. Focus on the second draft. The first draft of a story may be the who, what, and where. The second draft is where you convert it into story—and you can do this in your head.

Q: Some managers or supervisors aren’t verbose, extroverted, or otherwise naturally inclined to certain personality traits we might associate with good storytellers, but they must play a big part in telling a company’s safety culture story. What advice do you have for these professionals to help them deliver an effective safety message?

I understand. But these shy folks need to think of themselves as good storytellers, because I guarantee that when they’re with their friends and family, they tell a GREAT story. Why must the talent be muted when they walk in the office door?

Q: Are there any mistakes that a safety professional should avoid when using stories to build upon his or her organization’s safety culture?

One obvious mistake is don’t exaggerate or embellish, because other people will know if you are telling a true story and you don’t want to put yourself in a corner. The things you’re communicating at work are dramatic enough that they ought to rise and fall on the facts alone.

Q: You’ll be delivering the opening keynote at Safety Culture 2019 on the power of storytelling to promote safety culture—what are a few things that conference attendees can look forward to in your presentation?

First and foremost, laughter. As a professional business storytelling strategist, I know that the second-best way to teach is through the story, and the first best way to teach is through story with humor. So expect to laugh along with that morning coffee.

Learn More at Safety Culture 2019

Be sure you are in the audience for Dave’s opening keynote, The Power of Storytelling to Promote a Winning Safety Culture, at the Safety Culture 2019 event, taking place this September 18–20 in Denver, Colorado! At Safety Culture 2019, you will have the opportunity to learn strategies to maximize the impact of your safety culture to benefit not only your safety program but also your organization’s overall goals geared toward improving safety as well as business quality, productivity, and profitability. Register here today.

Dave LieberDave Lieber is one of America’s top storytelling experts who specializes in showing businesses and industries how to share the power of their stories. He’s also a columnist for the largest newspaper in Texas, where he has worked as a storytelling columnist for 26 years. A certified professional speaker (one of only a thousand in the world), Dave works with groups like ours to share tips learned from more than 40 years as a daily newspaperman about ways to excite your listeners with your important messages. Stories, properly told, are acted upon and remembered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.