4 Easy, Powerful Ways to Introduce the Clarification Sketch to Clients

4 Easy, Powerful Ways to Introduce the Clarification Sketch to Clients

How do explain the heart & soul of what you do?

The Clarification Sketch is the core innovation at the centre of our narrative method of practice. We asked our Community of Practice about their tried and true methods for introducing the Online Storyteller tool with new clients.

Two chairs facing each other outside in a park, a metaphor for creating engaging career conversation

Here are the top 4 ways that ensure your clients get it, get motivated and get started.

What’s a Clarification Sketch?

First, in case you’re new here, the Clarification Sketch is a living, online document where clients organize their stories, experiences and career clarity activities into a holistic, structured framework. It’s holistic because it captures a client’s whole life, and is divided into 7 key parts which are illustrated below.


Career Sketch showing 7 key parts,  including 6 elements of Strengths, Desires, Assets, Personal Qualities, Natural Interests and Other People plus Possibilities

Clients populate their Clarification Sketch with each story they tell, either with a helping professional during a session or by using the self-directed parts of the tool. This narrative approach positions people as the experts in their own lives. It creates a sense of ownership over the career development and self-exploration process.

Results from other activities and interventions, like aptitudes results or personality assessments, can also be integrated.

As career practitioners and coaches, we are used to working with tools, software, assessments and interventions. Imagine explaining the Clarification Sketch to a client using the language above. It’s full of industry jargon, and it’s missing the “what’s in it for me?” angle.


Consider the first time you ask a client for a story. You tend to frame it so they understand. Read on for impactful metaphors that we’ve used effectively with countless clients to frame the Clarification Sketch tool.


It’s a Corral

Clients are often wrestling with a jumble of thoughts & feelings as they enter into a coaching process. Like corralling wild horses, telling stories about the past helps organize chaotic thoughts into one dynamic, clear snapshot. Clients can put what's most important to them into words. This helps shape their next steps and career management strategies.

Wild horses running wild like the jumbled thoughts of career development clients

What’s more, it’s their own words. We encourage clients to tell their stories and populate the tool in their own language. This way, when they return to it to reflect, again and again, the Clarification Sketch resonates with them on a profoundly personal level.

It’s a Storage Locker

How many times have you had an impactful conversation, and then forgotten half the gems and insights that were uncovered after it’s over? The Clarification Sketch helps with this in two ways.

First, it’s based on our narrative process. It opens the door and guides both of you - client and practitioner - to engaging storytelling and storylistening. Second, instead of jumbled notes in a file, using the tool during the conversation allows for easy input into categories, like strengths and personal qualities. It’s efficient, and it holds your work together in a streamlined, structured format.

Storage locker that's like the Career Sketch in which everything is clear and categorized

As clients go through diverse career and life transitions, from promotions, to job loss to family planning, they can go back to tool. This well-organized storage space they co-created, with your guidance as a helping professional, remains accessible even after your sessions have ended. We've written about a real-life case study in which a client used their sketch to power up for an interview.

The Clarification Sketch helps clear the clutter, and labels the client’s experiences so that self-reflection moves from feeling overwhelming to easy.

It’s a Deep Dive

The Clarification Sketch allows for deep reflection and self-exploration. It helps create a safe space and structure that clients can rely on. They understand there is a method in the madness. There is a framework that’s being followed that allows for a deep dive into their past experiences, but with a safety net close at hand. This is important because it empowers clients to get connected with their inner motivations, overcome blocks and limiting beliefs.

Diver's feet sticking up out of the water, representing the deep dives that career coaching clients can take with a narrative approach

It also helps them trust in the process and our service delivery. The career development field is still highly unregulated. Most people get career advice from friends, family. They may look to blogs or online searches that offer basic, and sometimes misleading or outdated, information.

The deep dive is possible for clients because the Clarification Sketch offers a way in, into their stories and experiences, and a way out, moving towards possibilities.

It’s a Permission Slip

Time and again in our narrative practice, we are finding that clients often need to give themselves permission to pursue meaningful work. There is a sense that what they have now should be ‘good enough’ for them, and that settling for work that is bearable and adequate is the easiest and best path to follow.

Permission slip for meaningful work, lying on a desk in plain sight

Once clients have inputted their desires, strengths and possibilities into the Clarification Sketch, it becomes a mosaic of everything they actually want, and it’s contained on one single screen. It’s much harder to deny themselves the right to go after their goals when it’s laid out, in plain sight, in front of them. People feel more engaged and are more likely to follow through on next steps.

What’s your Metaphor?

How do you explain the Clarification Sketch to your clients? What story do you tell to explain why you use a narrative approach in your practice? Will you be trying out one of these 4 ways soon? Let us know in the comments below.

Laptop showing Online Storyteller and Career Sketch, part of OneLifeTools narrative assessment framework

If you’d like to review the Clarification Sketch and try out the Online Storyteller tool for yourself, you can sign up for a free credit here, attend one of our free, live webinars with co-founder Mark Franklin, or schedule a 1:1 video chat with us.

Did you know the Sketch is also the basis for the Guidebooks used in our Who You Are Matters! boardgame? Learn more about the game by watching this short video.

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