Inspired by Disability Expo: How is storytelling shaping your community? 

disability expo
By Rian Newman, Account Director ImpactInstitute

In April we hosted the first My Future My Choice Nepean Disability Expo for 2023, drawing record crowds from Western Sydney over two days. 

I was lucky enough to step away from my desk, put on a bright yellow volunteer shirt and register attendees at the front door as they arrived.  

It was a fantastic experience. It felt great to be face-to-face with the people these events support and meet many of the service providers behind their continued success.

Moreover, the conversations I enjoyed reminded me of storytelling’s power. It was easy to see how stories told by our sponsors, exhibitors and attendees positively shape relationships within the community.  

Storytelling at events like Disability Expo help people and organisations establish personal connections, build trust and credibility, and demonstrate value – but it doesn’t happen automatically. It takes hard work to create an environment at any event, or in any sector, where stories can be shared and heard.  

Here’s my three tips to make that work a little easier.   

1. Make time and space to share  

Stories are a tangible way of demonstrating how others have benefitted from a product or a service, and they help communities understand how needs can be addressed. 

Each Disability Expo program creates time and space for people to connect and share stories. In a sector fraught with complexity, our mission is to deliberately create an environment where attendees meaningfully engage with service providers.  

You’ll see live product demonstrations, conversations between people who have used different support offerings, a sponsors and exhibitor networking function, and on-stage interviews and performances that spark countless connections off the stage. 

disability expo


2. Experiment with different storytelling formats 

When people see and hear real stories it builds brand reputation and creates a sense of trust. This is particularly important in industries where sensitivities abound. Disability Expo is a multi-mode storytelling event, as illustrated above.  

Another example that came to mind for me was Russell Woodruffe, head of brand and marketing at Feros Care. He joined us on a recent episode of ImpactInstitute’s podcast, The CMO Show, and spoke about how people-first storytelling is driving this aged-care and disability service provider to stay fresh and cut through in a crowded market.  

 ‘Fearless Films’ is a documentary series showing Australian seniors smashing stereotypes by living extraordinarily bold lives, and Feros Care is soon to launch a new podcast to help adult-children tackle some of the tougher conversations about ageing.        


3. Get personal, go deep   

Though it can be kind of awkward in a professional setting, sharing personal experiences helps us relate to one another on a deeper level. If done correctly it can lead to increased understanding, loyalty and advocacy within a community.     

Disability Expo is a safe space for people with disability, so conversations can quickly connect people at a deeper level.  

Other in-person events are also powerful storytelling vehicles. If you’ve been reading our newsletter you’ll know the Social Impact Summit is fast approaching. On top of a fantastic (and growing) list of speakers we’ve incorporated a range of storytelling-led workshops into the program.  

There’s a Yarning Circle being led by Theresa Ardler, Educator & Owner of Gweagal Cultural Connections. This technique has been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years to build respectful relationships, foster accountability and create space for ideas.  

Our friends at Campfire Co-op will also run a World Cafe workshop, a storytelling format consisting of several rounds of small group power sessions – think speed dating but for forging connections and solutions for people & communities.  

 Here at ImpactInstitute, we’re a community of people who put storytelling at the heart of everything we do. I hope these tips inspire you and your people to do the same. 


Need help with your story?

ImpactInstitute is home to an expert team of storytellers with experience across impact advisory, brand storytelling and events. Reach out today and discover how we can work together.