Business storytelling: Put your story to work


Humans are wired to connect by hearing and telling stories

Kevin Swayze business storytelling
Kevin Swayze, business storyteller and presentation coach.

Put the power of business storytelling to work when you want your message heard — and remembered.

Connect with your customers.

Craft engaging sales presenations.

Build your brand online and in person.

Personal, deliberate storytelling does that — and more.

Kevin Swayze helps you unearth, shape and empower your story so it cuts through the static of social media. He’ll guide you to give reporters what they want to boost your image in earned media opportunities. Business storytelling helps you win positive attention in our age of distraction

Give your audience what it wants

Kevin has 30+ years of journalism experience digging for the root of what’s going on. After writing thousands of stories on daily deadlines, Kevin knows how to zero in on the key issues. He asks questions to polish your next blog entry, craft a memorable Facebook post memorable or impress clients during your next business presentation.

Put business storytelling to work

Kevin crafts messages using Emotional Intelligence and proven journalism tactics. Honestly, transparency and empathy build memorable sponsored content, sales presentations or keynote speeches. Kevin prepares you for the moment your elevator pitch impresses an investor.

Deliver your message with impact

Kevin coaches you on how to effectively connect with your audience by expanding your toolkit of interpersonal tactics and online communication skills. Learn engaging and entertaining tactics of audience engagement. Hold everyone’s attention in the room from the first breath of your speech all the way to the closing applause.

Contact Kevin today to help you build compelling, persuasive messages that are remembered and shared. Reach him by email; text or voice at 226-924-4237, or use the contact form below.

Zoom? Zoom! Online college teaching puts my communication skills to the test

The room 235 classroom clock never changed during the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo by Kevin Swayze

The clock on the wall showed 14 minutes to 11.

That’s what I remember from March 12, 2020.

That was the last day I stood in classroom 235 at Conestoga College in Kitchener. I said goodbye to my business communication students, complained about the broken clock and walked out the door. 

My first winter teaching contract was over. I was looking ahead to returning to that room in May.

The world had other plans.

On Friday the 13th, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford started talking about how Ontario would respond to something called COVID-19. Four days later, the province was locked down.  Everyone was ordered to stay home.  My wife and oldest daughter started sewing surgical masks from cotton fabric originally planned for wall hangings and quilts. 

The first time I went for groceries wearing a floral green mask, I snatched the last two packages of toilet paper from the shelves of my closest Food Basics store.

Coveted Covid toilet paper in March 2020. By Kevin Swayze

And stood in line for an hour to get to the checkout. It felt like I was in a store in Florida under a Hurricane watch.

Lockdown learning

I did return to teaching in May 2020. Call it lockdown learning: My classroom reopened on Zoom.  Thirty international students and me managed the stuttering “high-speed internet.”  I was in my basement. They were jammed in little apartments and basements across Waterloo Region.

Nobody turned their cameras on.  Little black squares for students.  I was teaching into the abyss.

I was learning how to communicate all over again. I was learning and modelling business communication in the new online world.

I thought I was an effective communicator before.  Now, I was a drill sergeant in a supportive communications boot camp. No yelling. No pushups. No 20-mile marches.

I poured on patience and empathy.   Laughed a lot.  Commiserated.  Modeled good communication tactics, like active listening and open questions.  I offered decade-long pauses after questions, offering addled students space to reply through audio distortion.

My communication style

After I completed a Toastmasters International communication style survey, it was no surprise how I responded to online teaching stress. Here are my results, all scored out of 10.

9 – Supportive – patient, cooperative, and sympathetic. Active listening. Calm and steady – I don’t like tension! (There’s also anegative aspect to the score: I am sometimes indecisive).

2 – Analytical – cautious, precise, and disciplined. Diplomatic. (negative: I can be a perfectionist).

1 – Initiating – sociable and enthusiastic.  Easy communication. Respond to praise (Negative aspects: I tend to talk more than listen).

0 – Direct – results-oriented, focused and competitive (Negative aspects: impatient and demanding)

Confirmed: I am a supportive communicator.  

I don’t push technology to solve problems. I rarely order people around.

Instead of struggling with my class PowerPoint, I tend to talk more about prefer talking Poutine and burritos to keep student attention. Sharing favourite recipes!

I ask questions.  I want to hear about a student’s life experience before logging into the classroom.

Minimal lectures.  I encourage students to share their knowledge.

Their success is my success. 

Online connections

Over six Covid semesters, students respond out of the ether, from overcrowded apartments, or using iPhones while riding a bus home from work on a winter night.

Even during the most stressful online days of Covid, students gave me more than 90 percent positive results in school-wide class experience surveys.  

And I thank them all for teaching me how to improve.

My new normal  – teaching in real and virtual – is all about doubling down on collaboration and conversation.

Classroom 235 looked pretty well the same before Covid lockdown, as after. By Kevin Swayze

I was zooming again in September 2022, but one of my three classes was in person. In the same classroom, I walked out of two and half years ago.  Weird. Very Weird.

The clock on the classroom wall still showed 14 minutes to 11 as the students walk in and I greet them wearing a paper surgical mask.

A lot happened in the 914 days since I last walked back into room 235 – and a lot stayed the same.

This post is based on a speech presented – online – at Cambridge Toastmasters Sept. 15, 2022.

Authentic Italian meals, a favourite pet, and a dash of history – Neighbours of West Galt magazine January 2023 edition

Daniela Sfara’s stories of visiting Italy and regional food made me hungry as I edited the January 2023 edition of Neighbours of West Galt magazine.

She came to town and fell in love with the architecture in Cambridge, Ontario – especially on the west side of the Grand River. She’s now a private chef creating and serving gourmet meals in homes across West Galt. Photographer Stan Switalski provided the cover and inside images to accompany the story.

The monthly magazine is published by Best Version Media and delivered by Canada Post to mailboxes in my neighbourhood.

For 17 years, I worked as a journalist, photographer, and editor at the former Cambridge Reporter newspaper. Now, 20 years since it closed, I continue to put my local news and writing skills to work as a content coordinator for Neighbours of West Galt. It’s an analog anomaly in the 21st century: a print-only, local magazine.

I’m always looking for news, event, and photo submissions about West Galt, at this email.

Stories and photos submitted to the magazine in the January edition included:

Another book published: Tara Mondou released another of her fiction novels, entitled Tara’s story.

Sculpture Garden enhanced: The Cambridge Sculpture Garden announced it enhanced the outdoor arts area along Grand Avenue, beside the Grand River. Included in the $30,000 project were new signs, lighting, banners, and a bench.

Galt Railway history: Local historian Trevor Parkins-Scibarras shared one of his Transit Time Warp photo comparisons. It shows a train crossing the Grand River in 1900 and again in the same spot in 2022, using the landmark Canadian Pacific Railway bridge over the Grand River.

Pet of the Month: Bubbles, a Labradoodle dog who greets customers entering Molloy’s Soap at 7 Grand Avenue South.

Season of stage performances: Drayton Entertainment, with it’s main theatre in Cambridge, announced an ambitious 2023 season of dramas, musicals, and comedies planned for its six stages across southern Ontario.

2022 Community Awards: The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce announced its 2022 winners of the Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Awards.

New, high-tech hospital equipment: Cambridge Memorial hospital shared news about opening a new endoscopic ultrasound surgical clinic.

Free holiday light shows at the Old Post Office digital library in downtown Cambridge

The Christmas light display is about to start in the 2020 show at the Old Post Office IdeaExchange Digital Library in Downtown Cambridge, Ontario. Photo by Kevin Swayze

Throughout the year, animated light shows are projected on the historic Old Post Office IdeaExchange in Downtown Cambridge. Christmas-themed shows continue on the half hour between 8-10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays until Jan. 5, 2023.

You can drive and park in the parking lot across the street and watch the show from the warmth of your car. Tune your car radio to FM 92.5 to listen to music choreographed with the show.

Here’s a video of a show from last year.

For my COMM8450 Conestoga College students living in Kitchener, the light show is one block away from the Grand River Transit Terminal on Ainslie Street in Cambridge

Taking the bus from Kitchener, use the Route 57Route 206 or Route 302 (with onboard Wi-Fi) directly to Ainslie Street terminal. The Old Post Office library is one block west, at 12 Water St. S. Look for the clock tower.  

If you’re taking the bus or planning to watch the light show on foot, I suggest dressing warmly and bring along hot drinks.

Connecting with international students using farmer’s markets and food

Every semester I teach at Conestoga College, I use food to get the attention of my business communication students. There are always foodies in my classes of international students.

The Cambridge Farmer’s Market is one of the oldest in Canada. Photo by Kevin Swayze

That means I’m always planning how to share recipes, restaurant recommendations and places to visit and experience food in the Waterloo Region area. In each class, I create an online discussion forum in the eConestoga online learning platform, provided by D2L.

I think of it as an applied business communication exercise. The students are my customers for the information and local expertise I share. I see plenty of evidence about how food builds trust with students facing a new culture, climate, and educational environment.

At the start of a class in January 2020 – before my teaching moved online – I ordered in an urn of coffee to share with my students before we started talking about communication theory.

I’m now teaching students living in Brantford, along with Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo. Brantford is the latest addition to by geographic teaching roster. Now I’m learning what food information I can share in that city, too

I always start by sharing videos about the local farmer’s market.

The St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market, on the northwest edge of the City of Waterloo, also gets students’ attention.  It’s Canada’s largest farmer’s market and a busy place with lots of local fresh farm food and prepared food on open days.  There are also lots of vendors with a range of clothing and household goods.

Here’s info about the smaller Cambridge Farmer’s Market, which runs every Saturday morning near my home. It’s the closest farmer’s market to the Doon and Cambridge campuses.

And the downtown Kitchener Market. That’s just around the corner from the new Downtown Kitchener campus of Conestoga.

What other food information do you suggest I share with the students new to the Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Brantford areas?