How to Be a Better Storyteller This Year

If you’ve been doing this work long enough, as we have, you know that storytelling – the ability to find, shape and share a cohesive and galvanising narrative – is a critically sought after and time-honoured skill. 

From the power bestowed upon storytellers in ancient cultures to the prominence and esteem of story leaders today, the ability to tell, hear and hold space for story is to foster an unparalleled capability to navigate change, make sense of the world, and chart a path forward that is equal parts inclusive, insightful and inspiring. 

While the pandemic has seemingly no respect for the fresh start a new year is meant to herald, now is as good a time as any to get clear on the story you want to tell this year and get to work leading through story. Here are some of our favourite resources to help kickstart your storytelling journey for the year ahead…

1.  The Story Canvas

While storytelling is undoubtedly a powerful tool to engage people and advance a cause, to achieve any sort of change – storytelling must be strategic. While most people assume the majority of our time as Digital Storytellers is spent behind the camera, the majority of our time is actually spent discovering the best, and most impactful, story (or stories) to tell.

Inspired by the Business Model Canvas, we created The Story Canvas to help storytellers like you to simplify and strategise your efforts. Getting clear on who you’re speaking to, what you want to say when you have their attention, and the journey you will take them on is a critical part of leading through story. You can download a Blank Story Canvas and have a go yourself, or you can follow our step-by-step guide and have your beautiful Story Canvas delivered directly to your inbox! We’d love to see what you come up with.

2. Stories for Impact – Online Course

If you want to unlock your inner storyteller and sharpen up your skills, there is really no better way to start than with our self-paced Stories for Impact Online Course. With four modules (FIND, MAKE, EDIT & SHARE), and over 50 videos, story templates, checklists and more, plus lifetime access to all course materials – this course has been designed to help you DIY your way to storytelling superstardom.

Over a few days, a few weeks or a few months – learn all the skills you need to create amazing and affordable video stories about your project, cause or initiative, with frameworks and techniques focused on telling world-changing stories. Suitable for individuals and teams – both beginner and advanced – who are looking to share their impact story, for only $150 you kinda can’t go wrong. We also offer team discounts and scholarships! (Please get in touch to apply.)

3. Build a Storytelling Culture

Like brushing your teeth, storytelling is not something that we can just do once, and never again – we need to make it part of our organisational and community culture. Cultivating a storytelling culture is the difference between having one person dedicated to storytelling (e.g. the CEO, or Communications Manager) and having everyone in that organisation, community or network gathering, telling and sharing compelling stories as part of their everyday processes and rituals.

The way we see it, there are three elements to a storytelling culture including: 

  • a story mindset (shared understanding of the value of storytelling); 
  • a story garden (a fertile breeding ground where stories are being grown, seeded and told, often and ongoing); and
  • a story strategy (clear processes for measuring and tracking the effectiveness of the stories that you’re telling).

From creating templates to community surveys, there are myriad ways to begin building a storytelling culture in your organisation. But know this – without one – you will never truly unlock the change and innovation that we know is possible and that the world needs. 

4. The Impact Storytelling Roadmap

Ever heard the Lewis Carroll adage: “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”? While ending up in Wonderland doesn’t sound so bad, with so much noise and shorter and shorter attention spans, it’s getting hard to engage your audiences and keep them engaged. That’s why we need to be as strategic as possible when planning out our stories and the campaigns that launch them into the world.

Similar to our popular Story Canvas, our new Impact Storytelling Roadmap is an editable document ​​to help you identify your ideal audiences and map content objectives to reach the impact you’re seeking. We also offer a fun, fast and fabulous half day Impact Storytelling Campaign Roadmap session where our skilled facilitators will walk you through our Roadmap and help you set a course for success.

5. Learn How To Lead Through Story

Living through these times, which are anything but ‘normal’, we desperately need empathy-driven design solutions that enable problem solving, creativity and innovation. What we need is leaders equipped with the ability to story-tell, story-listen and story-weave – or what we like to call ‘Story Leadership’. 

Story Leadership is the ability to use story to solve problems and build culture. Story leaders then adeptly create and hold space from which a new collective narrative can emerge. It is a proven pathway to strengthen empathy and engage in problem solving through lived experience and cultural intelligence. 

“Finding your stories helps you understand who you are as a leader, and if others understand you better through your stories, you give them more ways to build bridges with you, leading to greater trust.” – Esther Choy (Forbes, 2020)

The good news is anyone can be a Story Leader! Recently we hosted a panel discussion on Story Leadership alongside Future Crunch, hearing directly from Story Leaders who have led their organisations and communities using the power of story. Kickstart your year by catching up on the ‘Leading Through Story’ replay and gain vital insights into how storytelling is being practised to solve problems and build culture.

Story has the potential to be the head, heart and hands for your organisation and community, activating purpose and engaging people in 2022 and beyond. 

We love supporting budding story leaders to create change and guide their teams towards success. If you are curious about how to grow your skills as a story leader, get in touch about our new Leading Through Story offering to kickstart your year.

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