Earlier this year, I spoke at a "storytelling" workshop to a group of enthusiastic fund development and communications professionals. The organizers of the event were the good folks at the Bob Schieffer College of Communication, Texas Christian University.
I found my assigned topic intriguing: “Awe & Aww: Storytelling to Motivate Impact and Engagement.” What I shared were some basic principles of telling a story that either fills hearers with "awe," as in shock and awe, or "aww," as in puppy dog warm and fuzzy, good vibes.
Here's a summary:
1) Your story must always be true. You know, rooted in reality. No composites drawn from various experiences. No embellishments. Just the facts, please, but with great heart and emotion!
2) Look for and journal seminal stories that arise from "breakthrough moments" that typically provide and define your organizational narrative long term. These are tales that define your culture. If you know anything about CitySquare, you've heard the name Josefina Ortiz. If you don't know her story, email me or, better yet, read my book, The Wealth of the Poor.
3) Gather up stories along the way--those ordinary instances that reflect your organizational culture. These are the day-to-day events that align completely with the essence of your work and endeavors. They reflect the state of your enduring soul. Your journal or your Outlook calendar should be full of these.
4) Be HONEST about your FAILURES. All is not goodness and light! Along the way you and your team blow it. Include the negatives with the positives. Keep it real. Telling the truth always works. Ask me sometime about our landscape company and our teenage summer program crew and buying and selling "grass"!
5) REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT! Always be ready with a story, no matter how many times you've told it. Great stories are more than worth repeating. Telling stories again and again create the power that fuels movements and real solutions.
There you have it. And, good luck with telling your powerful tales from your important work.