WHAT MAKES A GOOD SAFETY STORY
Which story is more appealing to you and why? Story 1 In the past few years our company suffered an increase in road traffic accidents. Last year we recorded 30% more injuries because of overspeeding and driving under influence. Road traffic accidents are bad for company reputation and can negatively affect our shareholders. They can also lead to audits from authorities and fines if something wrong is identified. That is why starting this year we introduce mandatory alcohol screening and speed control for all vehicles. Consuming alcohol and overspeeding is illegal, and it is the duty of our company and of every driver to ensure compliance. Story 2 When I was 7 years old, my father was nearly killed in a traffic accident. He had a few beers after work with his friends, and he was probably overspeeding. Someone started crossing the road, and my dad did not notice him in time. He managed to avoid the collision but ended up in the ditch. He spent six months in the hospital after that. As a child, I was very scared for him, and very relieved when he got out of the hospital. He is 70 years old now, and he still drives a car sometimes… but since that incident, he is always very safe at the wheel. Seven of our drivers have received injuries last year when driving. I talked to their families - some also have children, some have elderly parents to take care of. I am sure all of you can imagine their feelings. And I know that our company can do better than that. We can implement better controls, and we can educate people to prevent those incidents. That is why starting this year we introduce mandatory alcohol screening and speed control for all vehicles. I expect your understanding and support of the new rules. What do you think? And here is what I think. Both stories had one thing in common: new safety rules were being introduced for drivers. The difference was in how the rule was presented. Any presentation or explanation is a story! (some are very boring stories though) Features of an interesting story are: - Familiarity - Simplicity - Relatability - Immersion - Drama And for the safety stories I would add: - Take-home message And remove: - Preaching and threatening. Now look at both stories. Familiarity: everybody was a kid and most people have families… but not everybody interacts with shareholders and authorities. Simplicity: one can imagine seven injured drivers… it is much harder to imagine a 30% increase in injuries. Relatability: feelings of a worried child whose father is in the hospital… or feelings of a worried businessman who is about to be audited? Both can be relatable in different contexts, but the second option can leave a wrong impression! Immersion: giving enough details (beers after work, someone crossing the road, ending up in a ditch) will help the audience to “live in the story”. Drama: the father gets better, and everyone is relieved. Now it is time for the resolution - let’s introduce the new rules and avoid those incidents in the future. Take-home message: following safety rules at work and in personal life is important for you and your family. No preaching / threatening: when the story is good, you don’t need to say your “take-home message” out loud. The best stories allow the audience to make their own conclusion.