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Using Anecdotes in Security Training

The skill of storytelling is one of the most successful methods of conveying a message. Public speakers, teachers, and mentors draw on personal experience to relate to their audiences. Performed with skill and confidence a story can enhance training by making tasks teachable and relatable to the audience. However when the message is misrepresented or poorly delivered with bad storytelling, the messenger becomes the focus as they lose credibility and the good message is obscured.

Storytelling for the purposes of this article does not necessarily mean creating a work of fiction or spinning a tale. The term storytelling is used as an example to assist with creating a logical flow of tasks conducted to complete a function. For example, a bad story teller may say, “protect classified information or else you could be fired or worse.” A good story teller will convey the task of introducing, using, storing, and destroying classified information throughout its lifecycle in a logical sequence. They could do so with such relevance that it is easily applied within the company culture.

The Story Setting

The speaker who speaks with or trains and audience of peers or having similar skill sets, gain almost instant credibility. The same profession, the same topic, and the same faces most often makes it unnecessary to cultivate a relationship from scratch. Everyone already has something in common as they share like interests. This setting can occur in a professional organization or club where everyone has a similar skill set or hobby.

On the other hand, a speaker who discusses topics to an audience of various expertise may have a harder time relating to their audience. For example, a college night school teacher may have an audience of skilled laborers of various disciplines and the only thing they have in common is the text book. In these instances, the speaker relies on their expertise in the subject matter and anecdotes to make the subject material relevant or teachable. It would be ridiculous for this speaker to try to engage in a topic they know nothing about. They will simply lose credibility the first time they misuse an anecdote.

Applying Story Telling to NISPOM

Beyond supporting a common corporate culture, a Facility Security Officer (FSO) could have difficulty conveying a message of protection to those who use classified information for a more specific purpose if they do not discover common ground. While the FSO is an expert at NISPOM, the engineer or practitioner is an expert at how the classified information is used. So what can an FSO do to create common ground and use that common ground to develop training anecdotes?

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