A couple weeks ago, I was coming back from a meeting and I was in the Bryant Park subway station and I realized I was surrounded by stories. But not just the stories of the interesting people around me, but I was surrounded by the word story on ads in the station. Later, reflecting on this, it became clear to me that we are in moment of heightened cultural awareness about the importance of storytelling. And I began to wonder: why is awareness about the power of storytelling emerging? What does our current fascination with storytelling tell us about this current moment in time?
Storytelling is nothing new, in fact its as old as humanity. Research has shown that our brains are wired for storytelling. When we are invested in a good story our brains release oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin which makes us feel a sense of reward and connection. From the beginning of humanity and language, stories have been how we make sense of the world and explain our existence.
A person without a story does not exist. Stories are how we craft our identities. But what's interesting about stories is that they not only explain our everyday experience, but they also define how we understand our potential to be in the future.
So although storytelling has always been a part of who we are, it has undergone a dramatic transformation. Storytelling has been democratized. It's is no longer limited by short term memory or words on a page, today the real challenge is the limits of our attention spans. [tabs open at any given time] The power is no longer in the hands of top-down storytellers to shape our cultural narratives. Now, There are new engines of influence. Peer to peer sharing is how ideas are spread. So while stories have always been how we create our identity, social media allows us to craft our individual story with a new sense purpose and intentionality. Whether we think of ourselves in these roles or not, with social media we are all marketers, we are all branders and we are all storytellers. By sharing statuses and content, we project our personal story to the world at a scale that was previously unthinkable. Every time we share something we are making a statement about what is important to us and who we are. We are now all story sharers. We share stories that reflect who we want to be. Your job as a non-profit is to understand how you can share your story in way that motivates your audience to share it.
You have to figure out how can make your story part of your audience's story. Your job as an organization is to inspire them, make them feel like they are a part of something and to create content that they will want to share, that feels like a gift to them. because here's the reality: The power is in the hands of your supporters. They will be the engines of fundraising and advocacy. So here's what's exciting: How can your organization cut through the clutter and create content that will be meaningful to your supporters? You have to tell a story that resonates, we believe video is the best way to do that.
Recently I read a great article about story sharing by Thaler Pekar from the stanford social innovation review, which she ended by saying that communication is more than transactional. Communication can be transformative. We whole heartedly agree, and we think a cinematic experience is the most powerful way to allow people to deeply connect with your subject, to empathize, and ultimately to act. Research shows that when we see other humans experiencing an emotion, mirror neurons fire and make us feel the same emotion. Mirror neurons read facial expressions and replicate that feeling of another person as if we were feeling it ourself. Seeing someones face and hearing their story in a cinematic way allows us to feel connected to people that we would never otherwise never get the chance to meet. Video creates empathy in a way other mediums can't. In the last three years, the landscape of digital video production has changed immensely. Web video has now become the paradigm for online communication. 80% of internet users watch online video for an average of 20 minutes a day. If your a non-profit, this means that video offers an oppurtunity to create an immersive and highly shareable experience, but you have to do it right. and my partner Annie is going to show you how.
Ask: What kind of video can we create that will lead us to our desired outcome? How can we create a distribution or campaign strategy that will tap the inspiration our video created and turn it into meaningful action?
What is the one simple idea that you want your audience to understand when they finish watching your video?
When brainstorming for your story, ask your team members to share the stories they tell others when they talk about why they care about their work. Think about the stories that choke you up. You need to identify stories that are inherently shareable.
Create content that is a gift to your supporters. Is this content sharable? What will it say about my audience when they share it? Why would they be compelled to share this with friends and family? How will this enhance your audience's reputation if they spread it?
Create a pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution timeline. • Identify assets and resources. Do you have archival footage that is useful? Equipment? Access to celebrities? Visual programs? Charismatic leader? Play to your strengths. • Identify gaps. What staff and equipment are available? Do you have access to editing software? Are your programs non-visual? Do your program participants have privacy concerns? Is your issue very sensitive? Brainstorm how you can creatively overcome these challenges. • Assign roles. What roles will your staff play? How can they participate as producers for the piece? Which roles will you fill and which will be consolidated? (See Definitions for an overview of top roles.) • Budget. What are the projected costs of the project? How will you fund it? Can you seek grants or outside funding sources? Are there pro bono opportunities available?
Instead of highlighting naturally dynamic stories, non-profits tend to follow their first instinct when creating video. They represent their organization from their own point of view. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been approached by non-profits who tell us they want a video about a particular program. But videos about programs don’t actually tell a story. A program is not a protagonist. Programs themselves don’t make people feel connected to anyone. People respond to stories about people they can relate to. People like themselves, their colleagues, their neighbors, and their families. Your organization’s job is to run your programs well. That’s why you care about systems, logistics and metrics. But your audience cares about you because they want to be a part of something that matters. They want to be a part of your vision . Don’t try to convince your audience that they should see the world in the same way you do, meet them where they are at.
BRAC Story Scarce knowledge is power. Banal information is not sharable. Uncomplicated language is sharable.
CHANGE to SHARE it.
These are the best tools for getting people to care. Impact stories tell the story of an individual whose life has been changed by your organization. Let that individual tell their own story whenever possible. Their own perspective on your work creates credibility and emotional connections. mirror neurons kick in.
tell inclusive stories So as an organization or as an individual changemaker you have a story about the how the world is and how the world should be. and the question is: how can you make that story resonate in a way that will inspire your audience to imagine their future in a new way, in which they can see themself as a part of your vision.
This is an opportunity to inspire. example: BRAC girl effect
Aimed at organizations that want to highlight issues that exist through the people that experience them, 70% struggle and 30% hope whereas impact stories it s the other way around.
charity:water invisible children
Visions drive movements so if you want to make people feel like they are a part something you have to create an idea of the world that makes them say I want that too. Vision is big picture impact is practical. Vision for inpsiration, impact for connection.
If a problem is framed in a larger way, oftentimes people feel overwhelmed. It s the drop in the bucket syndrome. People just feel like anything they can g. Individuals make people that their action can actually have an impact. The law of diminishing returns kicks in.
simple: if you say 3 things, you say nothing. unexpected: Expose the parts of your message that are uncommon sense and use them in the service of a core message. credible: let people speak for themselves concrete: focus on one particular story that has a beginning middle and end emotional: make them feel something
Anecdotes are great for making change feel real. When you are talking about someone s life being changed by your organization ask them to tell you a story of how the org has effected their everyday life.
y inspire us by appealing to our appreciation for perseverance and courage. These stories inspire us to act. Impact videos or campaign videos
movement portrait and impact stories
campaign video, impact story, vision video ex. BRAC community action story
This is the opening that pulls your audience in. Introduce them to the protagonist. Focus on the story, not your organization. Immediately create a reason for your audience to keep watching. Keeping people engaged is about posing questions and then eventually answering them. For this part of the video, don’t ask, “What information do I want to convey?” but rather, “What questions do I want my audience to ask?” We need to open gaps before we close them.
Explore your protagonist’s story of struggle. Make the struggle feel overwhelming and insurmountable. Take it to the point where the audience wonders how they could possibly overcome their problem. Use details and anecdotes that make the struggle feel real to help your audience understand how hard it was.
The protagonist is now doing well into the future but they have the reward of what they discovered along the journey with them.
This presentation mirrors the structure of an impact story. We posed a ?: How can you tell great stories? Demonstrated the struggle: told 3 common mistakes the moment of change: taught you the best videos, plots and structures resolution with revelation: now you know something you didn't know call to action: let's take the next steps. Think for a moment about a question, a connection or a possibility for collaboration and email us tomorrow.
This is our sharable content.
How To Inspire Action and Build Movements With Video
How To Inspire Action and Build Movements With Video #startstorytelling Annie Escobar Ethan Goldwater Rob Wu
Download the free e-book and worksheet: www.startstorytelling.com