Have you ever wondered what it takes so that people remember what you said?

Our minds are wired to consume content as a narrative, a story. Understanding the difference between presenting information and telling it in story format it critical to the success of engaging the audience.


Presentation software can often get in the way, taking the focus away from the storyteller instead of complimenting it.

That is why when we create workshops and retreats we make them either slide free or use minimal slide content.

Read our case study on how we helped build a High Performance Team at a slide free retreat.



Our client, a major blue-chip company, engaged us to work with one of their newly created senior leadership teams. The purpose was to help the team build trust, define their roles and how they will create value as a team across the organisation.

One of the key pain points to be addressed was that they weren’t ‘stepping up’ into ‘Head of’ roles and weren’t yet operating at their new level. The impact was felt by their leader, the General Manager, resulting in her being ‘drawn’ away from her role limiting her ability to step up herself.



The expected outcome of this two-day retreat was that the team would walk away with a deeper sense of connection with each other, agreed ways of working on how to step-up and a plan on how to create value across the organisation and be known for it.



We used the: Engage, Plan, Design, Deliver and Step-up approach.


During the engage phase we analysed existing secondary data such as engagement surveys and performance data. Additionally, we created our own survey and conducted interviews with the relevant Executive and General Managers across the organisation to understand their expectations of this team as well as the current perceptions.


In this phase we evaluated the data and validated it with our client. We defined the future state and the goals in greater detail. To achieve this, we had several conversations with the General Manager and the team members to create true buy-in and co-creation.


We designed the retreat with the end and applied the key principles of creativity, conversation and challenge. We also agreed on a strictly ‘no PowerPoint or slides’ policy.

Our starting point was to create trust through storytelling before building a shared vision through creative activities and co-design.

For example, as pre-work they were paired up and had to understand their partner’s role in relation to the following aspects:

  • Why does this role exist?
  • What are the top three things this role needs to deliver?
  • What are the key challenges?
  • How is success measured?

They then had to come up with a creative and memorable way to explain their partner’s role to the group during the workshop.

It was incredible to see and experience the magic that can happen when people are free to tap into their creative side and have fun. We had a role explained in the format of making a cocktail and another role was drawn as a ski race story on a whiteboard. They were certainly memorable and provided a lot of material for further side conversations.


Workshops and retreats often don’t allow sufficient time to discuss and agree on actions and to draw up the plan. We spent half a day on this activity with the result that each participant and sub team created an agreed action plan with timelines. This meant that they were able to execute the actions when they returned to the office straight away. They even sent invites for a townhall meeting out at the end of the workshop.


Stepping up is a process which needs to be evaluated once the team has had the opportunity to implement the changes.

We re-engaged with our client and the stakeholders six months later, conducting interviews and surveying the participants.



The results were outstanding. The team had stepped up to their roles, the General Manager was now able to not only operate at her level but had also taken on a partial secondment to a more senior role.

Together, they had grown as a team and created a brand that was known across the organisation.  They achieved despite the uncertainties and complexity of the pandemic because they operated as a team, were clear on their accountabilities and had a plan.