Stories are the best vehicles to transfer ideas, enliven the thought process, and change one’s outlook on things. Thus, it is no doubt that storytelling can prove to be the greatest tool of social change and social impact. In fact, storytelling is a wildly popular trend now. It’s the secret ingredient to a successful business venture, the key to strengthening the organizational culture, the means to acquire support for advocacy and campaigns, and most importantly, the way to people’s hearts and minds.
Storytelling can help address the disconnection between people and their environment. Stories engage people at every level – not just in their minds but in their emotions, values, and imaginations, which are the drivers of real change. Inspiring stories offer an alternative to mainstream narratives by showing that solutions exist. In order to transform society, we must learn how to innovate new ways of telling stories that will incite our fellowmen to action. The best thing about stories is the fact that everyone has one. Ashoka has wonderfully crafted a guide that’ll help every storyteller to generate maximum impact by telling their stories, in just 8 simple steps!
#1 [Re]Discover Your Story
Part A : Reflect
Everyone has various moments in their lives when they had to step out of their comfort zone in order to confront a problem. These are the moments of growth, or rather the ‘a-ha’ moments. Now try to recall your ‘a-ha’ moment and think how your take on that particular situation helped to transform you. After reflecting on these moments you can choose the one that you think will benefit and inspire others.
Part B : Build The Narrative Arc Of Your Story
Every story follows the basic pattern, that is, the beginning, the middle, and the end. The goal here is to inspire others to share your vision. Here’ the recipe for building your story in the best possible way:
- The Hook (setting the stage) – This is the introductory part of the story. It introduces the context and the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of your story.
- The Challenge (introduction to the central problem) – This is the part of the story which brings to light the central challenge that you are trying to address and the need to find a solution to it.
- The Big Idea (the “a-ha” moment or turning point ) – This section will focus on how the aforementioned challenge was a turning point in your life, how your method of tackling it is unique.
- The How-To (the strategy behind your big idea) – Here you can elaborate the most challenging aspect of the problem, how you managed to get past those obstacles, and also how you successfully countered the opponents to your approach.
- The Impact (the transformation) – This section will explore the impact circle created by your solution, that is, how did your method of solving the problem create a positive change in the lives of the people.
- The Call to Action (key learnings and future steps) – This part will fixate on how your audience/readers can become a part of your social venture, what is the broader significance of it, and what is your call to action.
#2 Identify Your Key Audience
In order to achieve the maximum impact, it is essential that you should identify your audience. You have to know which sector do you seek to impact through your story:
- While the General Public want to hear stories that are dramatic, inspiring, surprising, and emotionally moving, Social Innovators demand those stories that give insight into the process of addressing a social problem, turning insights into practice, and overcoming challenges.
- Thought Leaders are interested in knowing how the new solution fits within the bigger picture of creating social change, and what makes it innovative and transformative. Whereas, Funders want stories that describe new solutions and contain convincing evidence of impact/return on investment potential.
#3 Know Your Core Message
It is very important that you know the core message of your story that you want to share with others. You have to understand “why” you are telling this story, for instance, say to raise awareness or funds for a particular social cause. A helpful tip that may make it easier for you to get to the core message : Try telling your story in six words or less.
#4 Handpick Your Story Type
To reach your target audience most effectively, Ashoka has shortlisted a few types of stories that are most effective in inspiring people to action.
The Challenge Story : This story demonstrates how a protagonist overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles to turn their vision into reality. It is dramatic, inspiring, and emotionally moving.
Target audience: The general public
The How-To Story : This story focuses on explaining the process of solving and implementing a social problem in a unique way.
Target audience: Social innovators, Thought leaders
The Big Idea Story : This story describes a novel solution and explores how it fits within the bigger picture of creating social change and emerging trends in the social impact sector.
Target audience: Thought leaders, Funders
The Impact Story : This story focuses on describing the impact of the solution, providing convincing evidence that illustrates return on investment potential.
Target audience: Funders, Thought leaders
#5 Create Your Call to Action
This section delves into the reaction part of the audience – what do you want your audience to do upon hearing your story? Would you want them to share your story with their network or become a supporter of your cause, or sign a petition for this cause, or volunteer for it, or donate to your organization, or to start their own program? All of this depends on how you would like your cause to be forwarded by your audience. You have to clearly state the urgency of the action and make it unambiguous what you want your audience to do.
#6 Select Your Story Medium
After having dissected the core components of your story, now is the time to choose the medium that will best facilitate the engagement with your target audience. There are basically four mediums of conveyance : writing, speaking, audio, and video.
#7 Carve Out A Concrete And Genuine Story
Your story should inspire empathy within your audience. Being honest to your cause, being vulnerable and authentic makes you more relatable and helps you to gain their trust. Here you have to focus on certain points such as in which voice do you seek to tell your story, what are the perspectives that you wish to include in it, and how do you want your audience to react to your story. The usage of a simple language, sensory information, and human actions provide credibility to your story.
#8 Cherry-pick The Platforms For Sharing Your Story
After completing the entire process of creating your story, you have to wisely pick the platforms you think will promote your story and will expand its reach to a large number of people. In today’s tech-savvy world, there is an array of options for you to choose from. For instance, you can consider sharing your story on Changemakers’ Change Stories or spreading your story through a personal blog, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Pinterest, to name a few. There is also always the option to help further your story by reaching out to your known supporters who can then share your story with their networks to maximize its reach. Whenever possible, tell your story to others in person. This helps you to build personal connections with key people, resulting in a deeper level of commitment with them.
Individual stories can, thus, go a long way in inspiring the multitude to act better, for doesn’t every drop of water add up to make the mighty ocean?