A Storyteller's Toolkit from NTEN's 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference


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Storytelling was the first technology and has driven technology over the centuries. Here's an approach to using this time-honored practice - the world's true oldest profession - to inform, engage and motivate your supporters.

A Storyteller's Toolkit from NTEN's 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference

  1. 1. A Storyteller’s Toolkit: 5,000 Years in the Making #11NTCStory Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Nonprofit Technology Conference Washington, DC March 18, 2011 Roger Burks, Senior Writer at Mercy Corps @loudmind
  2. 2. Introduction Roger Burks Senior Writer Mercy Corps
  3. 3. <ul><li>The conveying of events through words, images, sounds, expressions and gestures </li></ul><ul><li>A way to reach out, connect and share something with others </li></ul><ul><li>The world’s oldest profession </li></ul>What is storytelling?
  4. 4. Another important definition Technology is the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or serve some purpose.
  5. 5. What is storytelling? Storytelling = the world’s first technology
  6. 6. What is storytelling? Throughout history and humanity, storytelling has evolved and driven invention.
  7. 7. The Storyteller’s Toolkit And that’s because, within each one of us, we’ve always had the basic tools we needed to share stories with each other.
  8. 8. It’s personal <ul><li>To tell a truly compelling and memorable story, you need a personal: </li></ul><ul><li>Reason why you write (credo) </li></ul><ul><li>Connection to the subject </li></ul><ul><li>Connection to yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Connection to your audience </li></ul>
  9. 9. It’s personal: heart and mind
  10. 10. Personal connection to the subject
  11. 11. Personal connection to the subject “ The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  12. 12. Personal connection to the subject <ul><li>Preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Gather the tools that will serve you best in getting the story you need. </li></ul><ul><li>Do some research on the situation or topic you’re about to cover. </li></ul><ul><li>Come up with a list of 9-10 questions that will inform – but not limit – your interview. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Personal connection to the subject <ul><li>Observation and attention to detail </li></ul><ul><li>What are the details that capture you? Write them down, right then. </li></ul><ul><li>Take note of details not just during, but also before and after the interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Your own thoughts and feelings are important details. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Personal connection to the subject <ul><li>Don’t approach it as a job, but as an opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>This is your chance to meet and learn something about another person. </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine interest breaks barriers. </li></ul><ul><li>Your own curiosity makes for good interviews and sustained interactions. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Personal connection to the subject Think of it more as a conversation than an interview.
  16. 16. Personal connection to the subject <ul><li>Use pen and paper as part of the process </li></ul><ul><li>“ The act of writing gives physical form to thoughts.” </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to transcribe subtle details, observations and feelings. </li></ul><ul><li>A notebook of your interviews and notes is permanent and tangible. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Personal connection to the subject
  18. 18. Personal connection to yourself
  19. 19. Personal connection to yourself “ I’ll know my song well before I start singing.” Bob Dylan
  20. 20. Personal connection to yourself <ul><li>You know a good story right away </li></ul><ul><li>It hits you square in the chest or in the gut. </li></ul><ul><li>You remember a lot of the story without looking at your notes. </li></ul><ul><li>You absolutely can’t wait to tell it. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Personal connection to yourself <ul><li>Write (somewhat) how you speak </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity of voice </li></ul><ul><li>Conversational quality and tone </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to develop your own style </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling for readers that they’re connecting with your cause or organization on a personal level </li></ul>
  22. 22. Personal connection to yourself Get it all out there at once – edit and filter later.
  23. 23. Personal connection to yourself
  24. 24. Personal connection to your audience
  25. 25. Personal connection to your audience <ul><li>Show, don’t tell </li></ul><ul><li>Let the words come from the conversations that you’ve had. </li></ul><ul><li>Bring the reader along with you; show them what you’ve seen. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to show the reader how you felt. </li></ul><ul><li>Bring unmistakable passion and commitment to your stories. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Give them familiarity </li></ul><ul><li>There are a few classic, key elements to most every compelling story: </li></ul><ul><li>Main character/protagonist </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of place </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional connection/empathy </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Like any good story, a good nonprofit piece is an engaging experience for readers. </li></ul>Personal connection to your audience
  27. 27. Personal connection to your audience <ul><li>Be the stories you tell </li></ul><ul><li>Establish yourself as a consistent, trustworthy voice for your organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Be a dependable storyteller and source of stories for your colleagues. </li></ul><ul><li>Lend your storytelling voice to your cause or organization’s social media efforts. </li></ul>
  28. 28. How Mercy Corps is doing it
  29. 29. Empowering storytellers throughout the organization Blog launched in May 2009 April 2010 March 2011 436 blog entries 876 blog entries 134 bloggers 225 bloggers 30 countries 41 countries
  30. 30. Training staff to be storytellers
  31. 31. A variety of stories to capture a variety of experiences From a recent mercycorps.org content inventory: Beneficiary or client story Autobiographical piece Field visit Personal reflection Staff profile/interview Program update News update Emergency update Photo essay Photo with long caption Audio slideshow Video with long caption Rough video Stand-up video Polished short-form video Polished long-form video Video interview Event- or campaign-driven video Written travelogue Technically-focused piece Poem
  32. 32. Using stories in social media and fundraising appeals
  33. 33. Stories endure and make a difference
  34. 34. Thank you! Roger Burks Email: rburks@mercycorps.org Blog: www.mercycorps.org/rogerburks Twitter: @loudmind Download the toolkit: http://bit.ly/storytellerskit