I give a lot of credit to storytelling. I credit storytelling with changing the world.
But. It’s not the stories. It’s the actions and the work you are doing. The catch is, if you aren’t telling the stories about the work you’re doing, no one knows about it, and they can’t get on board with your idea.
So, your work is def changing the world, but your stories are the catalyst.
If you want to be the storyteller in your organization, consider taking on the role of a news producer or anchor. Think about your favorite news anchor – the one you turn to for news, you trust, you know. You have a relationship with him or her. They have no idea who you are. They have earned your trust by doing what? They take all the activities happening in the world today and curate and package into stories you can digest. You don’t have time to follow everything happening in the world you can’t read legislative bills before they get on the floor. You can’t follow C-Span to learn about every detail in Congress. You rely on your news anchor for that information, and from that, you make informed decisions.
We tell different stories for different objectives, matching the story to the need. A question I continually ask is “What does your audience need to hear at this time?” This is also a fancy way of saying “having a conversation.” And that’s what we’re doing. Engaging in a conversation.
Any organization is on a journey from unknown to highly respected. At the highly respected level, you have a culture of take my money. Instead of having to make a case for something, you are essentially effecting change. And there is a lot of work and activity you are doing to get there, but if you aren’t telling the stories to your audiences, they have no way of knowing what you are doing, and you find yourself languishing in the unknown.
While your work and actions are critical, the stories are what help you climb the ladder. Your stories become the catalyst for change.
Let’s do a walk-through on this ladder. Organizations who are just starting or haven’t engaged in storytelling find they are very much unknown in their market. They are working hard to make a case. At this stage, your stories are all about driving awareness about a problem you solve and why you are the one to solve it.
It’s not uncommon to become known but misunderstood. Maybe people don’t understand what you do, or there is a reputation issue, some objection. Storytelling efforts are around shifting perception. Debunking myths and addressing the difficult topics head-on.
Once you rise above the dotted line, stories are more effectively driving action for slightly less effort than when you are below the line and working hard to make the case. It’s a tipping point if you will, and you become known and remembered. Your stories have developed trust and credibility.
But it’s not enough to be known and trusted. We want to drive action of some sort. Tell your networks about something, sign a petition, vote for something, volunteer your time.
After a steady cadence of storytelling across this spectrum, you will find yourself at the height of this ladder, highly respected, with a culture of “take my money.” Don’t we all want that?
If no one is acting as the news anchor at your organization, no one knows all the good work you are doing. And you will flounder in the unknown level of this ladder.
While it’s the work and activity of your organization that is the backbone of what you do, the story is your catalyst for change.
PS: One of my many new ideas while I was trying slow is to launch a new master class on storytelling which will be open to the public, perfect for individuals working in the non-profit and purpose-driven sector to learn to be better at using story to get your cause noticed and funded. This is a two-month program that will launch in June. There will only be 10 slots available and I’d love to talk to you about it. Contact me to learn more and apply.
Take care out there,
Some ways I may be able to help you and your team:
Want help seeing things differently? Ready to make that idea of yours happen? I still have a few spaces available in May for my Take a Big Leap Coaching program for purpose-driven individuals who want to make a big change or level up their career, business/organization, or want to strike out on their own and launch their thing. This four-month, one-on-one program will help you articulate and make your idea of change happen. Respond here, and we can schedule a time to discuss.
Help non-profit team members level up their storytelling. In this three-part series, I can work with your team to help you elevate your organization’s communications and storytelling skills. Want more details? Respond here to schedule a time to talk.
Digital Transformation. Need to bring your work online? I’m here to help. Contact me for details.
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