Svend-Erik Engh Presentation

Fluid Storyguiding

My name is Svend-Erik Engh and I have been coaching storytellers, teachers, business leaders, journalists and others using stories as a communication tool since 1994.

I use a method best described as Fluid Storyguiding.

Let me listen to your idea, your seedling of a story or a fully composed tale which you may have told many times. You will find that my feedback always adds new dimensions to the telling.

Write me an email on svend.erik.engh@gmail.com and lets see if we can find a time for a free coaching session. First one is free introductory half hour session. If you like what you get, we can arrange for more coaching on a pay what you can basis.


Tell a Story – Interact


I started teaching storytelling in 1994 at Borups Folk High School (højskole!) in Copenhagen.


We offered our students different subjects in slots that the students chose in the beginning of their stay on the school. One slot contained of two lessons once a week for four months. I offered Storytelling as one of these two sessions a week slots. I found myself in a situation where I had to prepare more than thirty lessons with theory about storytelling, practical exercises to make the students become better storytellers, and inspiration to work outside the classroom.

I realized how little I knew about the subject. At the time I had been a theater director for ten years, and my experience with storytelling was limited.


So I looked around and found very little of interest. I knew what my own main goals for the class were: to look at the basic rules of storytelling. The storyteller is influenced by the listener. The creation of an inner movie involves mutual responsibility. The new knowledge an oral story produces is a mutual responsibility. It is like a dance in which you are not 100% sure who is taking the lead.

I asked myself this fundamental question: How does the storyteller involve the listener in the creation of both meaning and flow of the images?

Could I find a daily life expression to describe this phenomenon?

When I started my classes in storytelling, I noticed that the Danish word ‘vekselvirkning’ could be the expression I had been looking for. Here is a translation: ”interaction, “The government wanted more interaction with the people” – interplay,Interplay between the boss and his employees is important” – interrelationship, “There is no interrelationship between the departments” – reciprocal action, “They studied the reciprocal action of the social system and institutions ”” (from the danish Dictionary ”Ordbogen”.)


The reason that I give the whole definition of the word here is that I want you to understand the importance of this expression. If you translate it just with the word ‘interaction’, it doesn’t always give all aspects of mutuality that the Danish word contains and ‘reciprocal action’ is not often used. I use the words ‘interaction’ and ‘interplay’, depending on which works best in the context, but know that what I actually mean is vekselvirkning.

The students went looking for complementary relationships that showed the various aspects of interplay in storytelling.

We found at least five pairs where the mutual reaction between two complementary opposites exists. You can find more if you want.

Between Storyteller and Listener

This listener is a little bit too enthusiastic about the whole thing, but I hope you get my message!

The first interaction between the storyteller and the listener(s) is the choice of story.

Try to imagine one of the listeners. What is she interested in? Imagine another listener. Who is his partner?

Try to put yourself in these listeners’ shoes and from that viewpoint answer the fundamental question:

• Is the story relevant to me as a listener? If you answered yes to that question, ask yourself the next one, which is just as crucial. Then change your viewpoint. Now you’re the storyteller again.

• Are you learning something new from telling this particular story to this particular audience? A storyteller has to be curious, must have the spirit to explore the unknown. You will be telling this story only once to these people at this time. So, as a storyteller, you are excited to learn from this new experience.

When you search for a good story, try searching unlikely places. If you are the boss, ask the cleaning staff, if you are a mother searching for a good story, search in your own life. Do you remember your first bike? Your first kiss? Sometimes a story needs to be polished to be a diamond, and the only way to find out if the story is a diamond is by telling it. So find someone to practice on. Ask the person: Will you please listen to this story and give your honest feedback?

Before you meet a larger audience, you should have practiced this story at least three times on three different people.

Between King and Servant

You have found an opportunity. The listeners are there. You have an audience.


Before you start telling your story, you have to consider a few things. Are the listeners comfortable? Do they hear you? Can you see their eyes? What about the light? Are you standing in front of a window? Is your face visible?

Your beginning is crucial. Go straight to the story. Let us hear: Where? When? Who? You know that your story is good. Show it! Be there for the listener. In the small silences, the small pauses you make, you invite us into the world of your story.

You let us, as listeners, create meaning, images and sensory impressions.


Stimulate our senses. It can be done very quickly by you telling about the looks, the sounds, the smells. And then silence. If you are uncertain, be honest. Don’t shout; whisper. Instead of throwing more energy at a skeptical audience, try the opposite. Give less energy. Create a moment of silence. Invite the listener into a mutual experience.

Tell us your story both as a king and as a most humble servant. It is a complementary movement between opposites.

When you finish your story, you are the king again. Just finish your story. Stop talking and let the listeners speak. Don’t apologize and don’t ask for their sympathy. Just relax and let the listeners give their feedback.

If you want to see a storyteller that shows how the interaction really works, Jan Blake from Manchester in UK is a master:

Between Meaning and Images

If the story just contains a lot of beautiful images and means nothing, you will have lost your audience, and they will never come back to you.

So you have to pick a good story with new insights for both the listeners and you as a storyteller. If you don’t know what to say, say nothing. Just as important, however, is the need for clear and creative images in the story. Read the works of Hans Christian Andersen. Every story stimulates. He creates images, tells about the sounds and the smells. In this way, he activates you; he invites you to work.


My Swedish colleague Anders Granström tells about a city that had a wall around it. When he has finished his story, he asks the listeners, “What colour was the wall?” A woman in the first row saw a red wall; two men at the back agree on yellow, and soon the room is filled with suggestions.

As long as the details are irrelevant to the meaning of the story, listeners can create their own images. There are always two stories being told: the story of the storyteller and the story of the listener.

Between Silence and Words

When you the storyteller are quiet, the silence is filled with tension. In the silence, the listeners create their own story. They imagine the ending; they ask if it’s a reliable story; they create the images of the story; they are very active.

The silences create a rhythm, and the story is like a piece of music. Some of the parts should be told very fast; others slowly, with lots of details. It depends on the story and the only way to find the rhythm is to tell the story.

Silence is a key word here. It is in the silence filled with tension that the listeners create images.

Between Epic and Dramatic Storytelling

”Once upon a time” is a typical epic phrase. You describe the scenario. Where does the story take place? Who is in the story? When you change your voice so it sounds like one of the characters in the story, you are dramatic. You can also change your body gestures, as long as you remember that an oral story is not theater.

It is of the outmost importance that the storyteller links organically with his or her movements, gestures and voice changes. If it doesn’t feel natural, don’t do it.

There has to be a balance.

In English – Online Storytelling Workshops

I can do this workshop in Danish, Swedish or English.

If you want to be a better storyteller and want to learn how to involve the listeners.

The workshop is designed for non storytellers. So if you are a priest, a teacher, a business leader, a journalist, a communicator of any kind I can help you with your story and the telling of it.

You will learn

  • how to find the good stories
  • create oral storytelling out of complicated written abstracts
  • how to ground yourself and notice when you don’t
  • adjust the story to the listeners. You want active listeners, even if they are behind a screen
  • embody the story
  • find the interaction between words and pauses


or call +44 (0) 7577001008


When you have heard a story being told and you want to improve the telling, start by saying ”The clearest picture in the story was …”

Then say something positive about the way it was told.

Then say what you think the story was about. It is important here, that it is your suggestion, not the truth! Please don’t sound like you are an expert and that you are very clever, If you do, it is a direct way to raise resistance to your feedback. You are not clever, you are just a listener and you have some ideas, but it can only work, if the storyteller finds a way to make these ideas their own. You have to give them the opportunity to see the story improve. When you tell a story, it will only work, if there is a partnership between the storyteller and the listener. Likewise in a coaching session there must be a partnership between storyteller and storycoach.

The final thing to identify is ”which part of the story needs some more love!” Then discuss where the storyteller was absent, not grounded, lost in details etc. Then the story coach and the storyteller work together to improve the story and the telling of it. 


As a storycoach my task is to help you become a better storyteller. The feedback I give you after you have told a story is to help you understand the story better and to reveal hidden gems in the story, so you can tell with more clarity after our session together. 

Often when people choose a story they are inspired by the words and its meaning. This is important. A story must be meaningful for the teller. A storyteller must be inspired by the words. I respect this focus on the content of the story, I respect and honour it. 

BUT when I listen to a story with the purpose of giving feedback after the story, I do not only listen to the meaning of the words in the story. If I did, I couldn’t give the feedback that I give. My focus is not just on the content of the story, the words you could just as well have read in a book. I listen with a more full understanding of the story. Let me try to explain. 

The words are tools for the storyteller to achieve a profound and real interaction between two human beings. When this real interaction occurs the distinction between the storyteller and the listener (s) disappears and instead there is one body, one soul exploring another world, the world of the story. 

When I am a story coach, I listen to the presence of the storyteller and I instinctively know where to point out where the real interaction is happening in the story. This real interaction means that you are present on many levels:

–        In the story you know everything; every person, every colour, the smells, the rooms, the trees, the houses, the castles – if I stopped you at a certain moment in the story, you would be able to tell me every single detail. Why? Because you were there! You experienced it! You lived it! So of course you know the colour of the dress of the woman, who is handing over the water of life to the raven or how it smelled when you visited hell with some pork meat or whatever the story is about.

–        In the room with the audience – even if it is a Zoom room or another platform – well, you have to know how the audience breathes, thinks, dreams while you are telling your story.

–       You are 100 % grounded. I couldn’t move you away from the spot where you are telling your story even if I used all my powers, because you are so connected to the core of the earth. Your knees are loose, you feel your toes and you are so attached to mother earth that I can feel it in my bones as I listen..

My work as a story coach is to make you as a storyteller present in all three levels. To do that I use my intuition and I trust my instincts.

In Danish – Online Storytelling Workshops

– blive en bedre historiefortæller
– lære at inddrage lytterne i dine historier
– skabe egne historier

I can do this workshop in Danish, Swedish or English.

For dig, der ønsker at

Workshoppen er målrettet dig, der ikke opfatter dig selv som en fortæller.
Alligevel er jeg sikker på, at du har fortalt før – lidt eller meget.
Du kan have fortalt for dine børn eller børnebørn og mærket, at her var der et eller andet spændende, som du gerne vil udforske.
Du kan have anvendt den mundtlige fortælling i dit arbejde som lærer eller pædagog og fundet ud af, at du gerne vil vide mere om teknikker til at skabe endnu klarere billeder.
Du kan have fortalt en historie på din arbejdsplads og set, at dine kollegaer lytter mere intenst til fortællingen end de kedelige power points.

I workshoppen vil du få teknikker til at
– finde de gode historier
– skabe mundtlige fortællinger ud af skriftlige oplæg
– mærke jordforbindelsen
– se dine lyttere ind i øjnene og mærke, at det gør en forskel at inddrage lytternes reaktioner i din fortælling
– kropsliggøre fortællingen
– finde dynamikken mellem ord og pauser

Du får
– gode råd til at finde historier
– konkrete brugbare redskaber til, hvordan du fortæller din historie
– et stort katalog af øvelser.

Jeg anvender Zoom!
Prisen taler vi om – virksomhedsfortællinger lidt dyrere end fortællinger for Corona-19 kriseramte!

Evt. for et team – jeg arbejdede for Microsoft og Novozymes i de gode gamle dage, hvor jeg coachede et helt team i at præsentere deres visioner, så lytterne bleve engagerede.

skriv til mailto:svend.erik.engh@gmail.com

eller ring +44 (0) 7577001008

In Danish – Artikel i Kommunikationen fra 2013

Artikel i www.kommunikationen.dk

Brug storytelling som kommunikationsredskab i organisationen

En god historie kan få folk til at lytte og skabe identitet og fællesskabsfølelse. Derfor er storytelling i organisationer er et effektivt kommunikationsredskab, som skaber kortere vej fra ord til handling.

07.02.13 – af Stine Bjerre Herdel

Når man hører begrebet ”storytelling”, tænker man ofte på markedsføring. Historien om saltet fra Læsø, frugten fra den idylliske Fejø, frikadellen, ”der smager, som når mor laver den”. Som forbrugere er vi nemlig ikke kun til løsninger og produkter, der appellerer til fornuften, men snarere til produkter og løsninger med historier der taler til hjertet, fordi vi kan lide at identificere os med dem.

Storytelling er dog ikke kun relevant, når produkter skal tiltrække forbrugere. Det, storytelling kan, er at forme budskaber, der virker tiltrækkende, og det er mindst lige så relevant som kommunikationsredskab inden for organisationer. Her skulle budskaber og løsninger også gerne virke tiltrækkende og skabe identifikation. Netop her er den gode historie med til at forankre budskabet og til at formidle virksomhedens værdier og holdninger på en måde, så folk tager dem til sig og handler efter dem. Det har historiefortæller, Svend-Erik Engh flere års erfaring med:

– Når der sker forandringer i en organisation, er det altid forbundet med følelser, og derfor er det vigtigt, at forandringerne bliver kommunikeret med en historie, der taler til de følelser hos medarbejderne. Ofte er det jo ikke på grund af manglende engagement hos medarbejderne, at de måske ikke lige handler, som ledelsen kunne ønske, men fordi de ikke kan identificere sig med forandringerne, fortæller Svend-Erik Engh.

I organisationer arbejder han blandt andet med såkaldte ”springbrætshistorier”, der har til formål at få medarbejderne til at drømme med om den fremtidige udvikling. Her bruges historien således, at tilhørerne skaber indre billeder af, hvordan fremtidens muligheder kan realiseres.

Hvilke redskaber skal man bruge, når man fortæller historier?
– Man skal kunne stille sig op foran en forsamling og levere et budskab på en måde, som inviterer tilhørerne, så de faktisk lytter. Det er en aktiv kommunikationsform, hvor man går ind i en dialog med tilhørerne. Ikke dialog som ”spørgsmål-svar”, men ved at man i kraft af fortællingen aktiverer billeder i hjernen og skaber forestillinger og refleksioner. Man sætter f.eks. en scene og lægger op til, at folk tænker sig selv ind i samme situation. På den måde holder man publikum engageret.

Og så skal man lære at holde kæft. Det lyder måske mærkeligt, men et af de stærkeste redskaber til at aktivere tilhørernes hjerner er faktisk pauserne, så dem skal man lære at bruge. Meget kommunikation i dag handler om at fortælle mere, højere og større. Men pausen er meget mere aktiverende, fordi den bruger det, som ikke bliver sagt, til at skabe forestillinger hos tilhørerne.

Hvorfor er fortællingerne et godt kommunikationsstrategisk redskab netop for en organisation?
– For det første er det sjovt. Og der er ikke så mange steder i en virksomheds eller organisations liv, hvor man kan sige, at noget er sjovt. Her får man en legende energi ind i kommunikationen. Man bruger fantasien.

For det andet vil du opleve den her respons fra lytterne, hvor du får en helt anden feedback. For de har det også sjovt. Der foregår noget, og det bliver vedkommende. Og når noget er vedkommende for folk, er der langt større chance for, at de rent faktisk også går ud og handler i overensstemmelse med dit budskab.

Hvorfor er en god fortælling med til at motivere folk og forankre budskaber?
– Fordi folk føler sig inddraget. Det gør de blandt andet fordi, rent fysiologisk sker der det, at man får en anden del af hjernen aktiveret. Kroppen og følelserne bliver aktiveret, og det gør at du lytter mere aktivt og lagrer og bearbejder budskaber anderledes. Du får samme følelse, som når du hører et godt eventyr, hvor det gode kæmper en spændende kamp og vinder over det onde.

I hvilke typiske situationer kan en virksomhed eller organisation bruge storytelling?
– Det kan bruges i mange situationer, men f.eks. ved kick-off-møder eller når store årsplaner skal fremlægges af virksomhedens ledelse. Det virker godt at skabe billeder, når vi skal i gang med at forandre os og orientere os mod nye mål. Når vi vil motivere folk omkring noget eller have dem til konkret at gøre noget.

Man kan også bruge det på den måde, at man for medarbejderne til at fortælle små historier. Det kan man bruge alle steder, men der er et kendt eksempel fra en række skolefritidsordninger og børnehaver, hvor  Hanne Aaling Risager har arbejdet med at få medarbejderne til at fortælle hinanden historier fra hverdagen om ting, der virker, og på den måde finder frem til stolthed og fornyet handlekraft.  Det er meget mere hensigtsmæssigt end at snakke om det, som ikke virker.

Man kan også bruge storytelling i forbindelse med kriser. F.eks. når man lige har fyret 25 medarbejdere. Ledelsen kan samle folk og fortælle om forløbet og situationen. Følelserne og værdierne. Og så få medarbejderne med til at fortælle om: hvem er vi i virksomheden? Hvor står vi nu efter det, vi lige har oplevet. Har vi lært noget, og hvad skal vi arbejde videre med?

Historier skaber jo også sammenhold, når dine medarbejdere fortæller historier om gode oplevelser og mindre gode oplevelser og udveksler erfaringer.

Hvad skal man passe på med, når man bruger storytelling? Hvornår går det galt?
– Man kan selvfølgelig ikke bare fortælle solstrålehistorier i en lind strøm, men sørge for at være realistisk og tilpasse sig virkeligheden, som kunderne og medarbejderne må forventes at opleve den. Det kan gå rigtig galt, hvis folk opdager, at virkeligheden ikke står mål med historien, for det skader i høj grad troværdigheden.

Man skal også huske, at det moderne publikum er skolede, så historierne må ikke blive for kunstige eller åbenlyst gennemskueligt. Du må ikke tale hverken op eller ned til folk. Det kræver, at man har en god fornemmelse for dem, man taler til.

Storytelling er aktiverende og inddragende, derfor er det også vigtigt, at du selv er en god lytter. Hvis du ikke lytter og tager til dig, så kan det være lige meget, og så virker det falsk.

Det er også utrolig vigtigt, at man ALDRIG bruger det, man så får at høre, imod folk. Man må som leder erkende folks fortællinger og oplevelser, hvis man vil bevare deres tillid og tryghed. Det går ikke, at man bagefter stiller folk til regnskab for det.

Og rent lavpraktisk: Power Point forstyrrer de indre billeder og kommer til at dominere frem, for de billeder, du skaber i folks indre biograf. Så hvis du vil have størst effekt af din fortælling, så drop dine slides.

Kan man bare sætte en hvilken som helst person til at stille sig op foran et stort publikum og fortælle historier?
De fleste kan fortælle historier fra deres hverdag, men ikke alle kan stille sig op foran en stor forsamling og fortælle en aktiverende, kreativ historie – uden slides eller noget. Du står jo der ”nøgen” med din krop og din stemme.  Så det kræver, at man tør stille sig op og har lyst til at fortælle, og at man kan hvile i det.  Det kan man som regel lære.

Der er dog kun en måde at blive rigtig god på – og det er at fortælle. Begynd med at finde på historier og fortæl dem til dine børn – uden en bog. Eller fortæl om dine egne erindringer – følelser og erkendelser. Det er i hvert fald et nemt sted at begynde. Du var der jo selv.