Leadership

Lunchtime Links: Storytelling for Newbies

By / Nov 20, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Why it’s important to work on your storytelling skills. Also: Create a framework for members and volunteers to tell a few good stories of their own.

Once upon a time, I wrote this link roundup, and now you’re reading it.

Not a very compelling story, right? I know; I’m working on it. That’s why I rounded up some insights from a few storytelling experts. Read on for a bit of tale-telling expertise:

Build a great story: You’re trying to persuade your audience, but you’re not sure how. A story goes a long way, but what story should you tell? CopyBlogger’s Jerod Morris has a few ideas on the matter, starting with this: While you want your tale to be gripping, it doesn’t need to be complex. “You don’t need to narrate your own neurotic work worries in the third person to grab an audience’s attention,” he says, nor do you “need to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets.” Instead, he suggests following the advice that communications consultant Cliff Atkinson gave The Wall Street Journal: “Find ways to connect with your audience on an emotional level.” Read Morris’ advice on how you can make that happen, even if you don’t think you have any good stories. (ht Steve Drake)

Make creating content easy: While nonprofits are well suited to build great content marketing programs (content marketing being another way of saying “storytelling,” after all), the problem is getting people to take part. Perhaps the secret isn’t to put all the work on members or volunteers, but to build a content framework that they can easily add to. “When you’re first trying to get your constituents, supporters, and beneficiaries to share their personal experiences via their own videos, blog posts, essays, photo journals, or podcasts, you need to make it easy for them,” Kimbia content strategist Fernando Labastida writes for NTEN. “One successful method is to organize your own content project, such as a video or an eBook, but have the core content come from your constituents. This gives you unique content and them the reward of helping without creating a lot of work for anybody.” Sound like a project you’ve worked on?

Don’t tell the wrong story: Storytelling is important, but it’s fraught with pitfalls if the message gets muffled. Communications expert Michael Schein, writing for Inc.com, says that poor focus could sink your storytelling if you’re not careful. “Before jumping in, take the time to plan out what you’re trying to say about your company and industry over the long term,” he says. “Does your overall content initiative have a real story arc or are you just throwing a bunch of spaghetti against the wall? If it’s the latter, you could be in for some real trouble.” Read his insights for a couple of ideas on making sure you have a story with laser-pointer focus.

Got any good stories for us? Tell us all about them in the comments below.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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