Start your Storytelling with Strategy

For the majority of 2015 we have all heard about storytelling, storytelling and more storytelling. It is THE new buzzword. It rivals the oversaturation of "synergy" in 2012.  Thankfully that buzzword has lost much of it's power and left most people's lexicon. Thank goodness and good riddance!

"Mom! Please stop doing the Macarena!"

"Mom! Please stop doing the Macarena!"

But storytelling is not a word or concept that we should throw away as quickly as we forgot how to do the once trendy Macarena. Storytelling is a powerful tool that is what I would call "the ultimate connector" to your audience. However, what most of us have done is jumped up and started doing the Macarena without really knowing the technique of dance. Or more likely started writing the stories without thinking where, when and how we should use them. We are just so happy to be a part of the phenomena that we start mumbling words that sound like the lyrics and screaming, "Macarena!" when everyone else does. (insert side eye) Please don't do this!

There is no denying that storytelling is powerful and beneficial and all together not a bad idea, but ONLY if you take you the time and start with a strategy. Now let's take off our dancing shoes and begin our lesson.

Pinpoint Your Objective

When setting your story strategy, figure out what you want to accomplish. This is really easy. Take out a pen and paper and write in your largest font your big hairy, yet measurable, objective. Are you looking to engage current client, customers or donors, gain awareness in the community through awards, garner media recognition or maybe engage a new audience? Know what you are looking to accomplish as well as what success looks like when you have accomplished it.

Find Your Audience

For most of us finding our audience should be easy.

  • Make a list of who it you don't want to reach.
  • Make a list of who you want to reach (be exhaustive).
  • Make a list of someone you currently serve who you want to duplicate.  

The most important thing to do is to set aside notable time to find the right audience for your objective and glean some insights into their habits and hangouts.

Telling the Right Story

Many of us get really nervous as we sit down with pen and paper, or more likely computer screen and keyboard, and have to create "the right" story for our organization. We either blank, or have too many stories to choose from. But there is no need to fret! I have a great (and simple) strategy for you.

 

1.     Ask all of your colleagues, in your organization what questions they are frequently asked when they interact with the general public, donors, volunteers.

2.     Now think of all the things that you want your audience to know about you. If you are targeting grant managers, you might want them to know a story that illuminates your impact on the community at large. Or if you are targeting new donors, you may want them to know where their donations go and the cost of trying to accomplish your mission.

3.     Now, just take what you want to say with what people want to hear and you will find the most powerful story for your objective. 

What's Next in the Process

You now have the beginnings of an insightful and impactful story! It’s time to put some emotion behind it. Who should tell the story and what tone do you want your story to have? Stay tuned for upcoming tips on how to write the perfect story. 

Now that you have all the right moves and actually know the lyrics, jump in line and start dancing to the .... Macarena. Good luck!