In my last post, I described some of the benefits of combining the powerful one-two punch of great stories and social media.
To capitalize on those benefits, what qualities do you need to be an effective storyteller for your nonprofit?
Great storytellers have certain specific characteristics in common.
Note that not everyone will embody every characteristic on this list; they are simply guidelines to which you should aspire as you begin your journey to stellar storyteller.
1. Be a True Believer in the Cause
Stellar storytellers are outspoken and passionate advocates.
Their zeal and enthusiasm are infectious!
2. Be Authentic and Truthful
We tend to want to listen to others with whom we can see parts of ourselves.
People that come from similar backgrounds and have faced similar obstacles.
This is why major donors tend to listen to other major donors and volunteers are better able to recruit other volunteers.
They speak each other’s language, know the hidden “codes,” and understand where the other is coming from.
3. Truly Understand What It’s All About
(Hint – it’s not the Hokey Pokey.)
It’s also not about your organization’s agenda and what you want to convey.
It IS about your audience members and what they want to hear.
A stellar storyteller takes the time to understand the audience members. What they care about and what moves them.
Stories should be crafted and delivered with these elements in mind.
4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Preparation is key when delivering a great story.
That being said, stellar storytellers are also able to improvise and are not rigid in their delivery.
5. Practice Being Open-minded, Enthusiastic, and Motivated
Stellar storytellers want others to feel what they are feeling and they will always try new methods and new techniques to reach that end.
6. Remain Skeptical
Stellar storytellers continually ask themselves the questions that their audience will be asking: “How did that happen? Why did that happen? Why couldn’t something else have happened?”
By looking at each story with a critical eye, they are able to anticipate the apprehensions and questions of their critics and supporters.
7. Remain Generous
Stellar storytellers are generous with their emotions and their willingness to be vulnerable.
They often share personal stories of their own struggles and obstacles.
To touch other people’s hearts, you must be willing to expose your own.
8. Understand the Context and Your Audience
Are you telling the story in front of a group of one hundred people, at an intimate dinner, or during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session?
Molding the story to fit the context and your audience is a huge part of being successful in storytelling.
It’s all an exchange. Supporters give us their time to listen to or to read the story, and they expect us to deliver.
Time is a very scarce resource for people.
Respect it, and they will remain loyal to you.
This is an excerpt from the book Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, now available in paperback and Kindle.
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