Once you have made the decision to tell stories, it is natural to feel uncertain as to what to do next. Couple your enthusiasm with these five steps to be on your way to telling great stories.
1. Define your message
In order to tell an impactful story, it is important to know what overarching message you are trying to communicate. After all, you are not simply telling stories for the sake of telling stories.
You likely have a fundraising or awareness goal. Take time at the beginning to define the purpose and the message you want to communicate. Having this clarity will make it far easier to craft a story.
2. Define your audience
Much like defining your message, it is important to define who your audience is. Ask yourself – who do I want this story to speak to? Just like your cause might not be for everyone, every story might not appeal to everyone in your audience.
Think about who you want to reach and what kind of story will appeal to them. Jot down some characteristics of this audience.
3. Determine what kind of story you need
Think about what story you need. Will it come from a client, a donor, a staff member or someone else? There are a variety of viewpoints you can showcase in a story, so think about your audience and what they are most likely to respond to.
In addition to deciding whose story you will use, you will also need to think about the nature of the story. Is it about overcoming adversity or achieving a transformation? Will it be a story about your founding or your impact? Or will it be a story about the future of your organization?
Determining the nature of the story will help point you easily decide who you should feature in the story.
4. Find story leads and conduct interviews
There are a couple of ways that you can go about finding story leads. You can simply let other staff members know about the project you are working on and ask if they know of anyone who might fit the bill.
If you have potential interviewees in mind, you can also contact them directly, explain the project and ask if they would be willing to volunteer some time. Spread the collection net far and wide!
Once you’ve identified a story lead (or two), arrange an interview. Think of this as a casual conversation to get to know the person a bit better so that you can share their story. Do your homework ahead of time and come prepared with potential questions to keep the conversation going.
5. Tie it all together
Pulling a story together is kind of like tying a bow on a present. You have probably collected a lot of information in the interview and have other pieces of information that you want to integrate into the story, such as information about a particular program or service.
Your job now is to package it all together. Begin the process with a “hook” – a particularly captivating part of your story. Imagine that you are writing this out in a letter or an email to a friend; use a similar tone and style. Then, gently weave in the other pieces of information to make it cohesive and give it additional structure.
A good way to think about packaging your story is to think about the types of stories you could tell.