Get story-ready for 2021

written by Carmen Hawker

It’s been a year of massive disruption, and we all have a pretty amazing story to tell. How are you telling yours? Here are five tips to start fresh and get ‘story-ready’ in the New Year. 

Not just the ‘fluffy’ or the fairytale, storytelling is critical to unlocking your strategic goals. Why? Because we are emotional decision makers, and stories engage us in a way that mission statements and spreadsheets can only dream of doing. 

Stories also connect us and help us make sense of the world around us, which is why – after the year we’ve all had – it is vital that we make space to tell our stories, and our truths. 

So, here are five tips from our team of storytellers to help you get ‘story-ready’ and hit the ground running with your storytelling in 2021. 

1. Lead with purpose – know your ‘why’ 

We know that’s what Simon says, but he has a point. One thing that people often assume about our work at Digital Storytellers is that the majority of our time is spent behind the camera. In reality, a good chunk of it is spent helping people doing great work to uncover what their ‘best’, and most impactful, story is to tell. 

So, before you get too deep into figuring out ‘what’ story you want to tell in 2021, take a step back and determine ‘why’ you want to tell the story in the first place. Start by asking: ‘What is the ‘blue sky vision’ or future that I am trying to create through this work?’, followed by ‘why is it important that this story gets told?’ The answers to these two ‘why’ questions will help inform what story you tell and how you tell it.

🤓Storytelling is the best way we know to create a purpose, vision and culture that others can share because it makes use of one of the most fundamental ways that humans share and retain information. 

2. Make your story relevant to your audience

A common question we get asked is: ‘how do I know what the right story to tell is?’ – well, there’s no one right answer to this because telling the ‘right story’ depends largely on your ability to identify and understand who your audience is. 

Who does your story need to reach in order to create the impact you want to see in the world? Once you know who your audience is, you need to invest a little time in truly understanding: who they are, what they care about, and how they see the world. Then you’ll be better able to find the ‘right story’ to move them from being unaware of your cause → aware → engaged → championing your movement. 

💡Remember: Moving audiences from never having heard of you to being your biggest champion does not happen in a two-minute video. Building an engaged community using story takes time, but it’s oh so worth it. 

3. Reel them in 🎣

All good stories begin with a compelling hook to reel audiences in because it means you are more likely to hold people’s attention as you journey together through each memorable moment or ‘plot point’ along the way. Be it a bold quote, funny anecdote, eye-popping graphic or mind-blowing statistic – you essentially have less than seven seconds to make a good first impression, so make them count. 

Use what you know about your audience to determine how best to invite, or ‘hook’, them into your story. Here is where you need to get very clear on what you want your audience to think, feel and do as a result of hearing your story. It takes some careful planning of key messages and a ‘call to action’ or CTA that leaves the audience with something memorable – a swift Ronda Rousey-style jab – that gives them a reality check, pithy takeaway or next action to take.

A great example is Lua’s story, which we had the honour of producing for the GO Foundation’s #GOFurther campaign. With a strong start, or ‘hook’, and a powerful closing jab – you too can create an impactful story: Lua’s Story – #GOFurther – The Learning Journey – GO Foundation

4. Build a campaign roadmap around your story

As much as we wish it were true, a single two-minute video is unlikely to move your audience from apathy to action in one fell swoop. To be more effective, it needs to be part of a rich tapestry of other content, resources, communications and activities that take your audience on a journey from awareness → action. 

This is where you get into the CX, UX, campaign strategy or ‘campaign roadmapping’ part of getting ‘story-ready’ – the bit where you figure out where you want your audience to end up and how you’re going to get them there. This involves considering how the story will reach the audience and what they’ll do after they hear it. 

Get started with our free DIY Campaign Roadmap or enquire about our fun, fast and fabulous half day Impact Storytelling Campaign Roadmap session where we help organisations identify your ideal audience and set you on the course for storytelling success. 

5. Progress over perfection – just dive in 

Storytelling is a practice, not a perfect. We can strategise and plan until the cows come home, but it’s in having the courage to be vulnerable and actually share our stories with the world, no matter how imperfect, that we create the connections and build the communities we seek. 

For example, when Ediblescapes community garden joined our Stories for Impact bootcamp, they had big visions of how they wanted to tell their story but they were having a little trouble getting going. Using nothing but their smartphones and the editing skills they learnt at the Bootcamp, the team got to work, and were pleasantly surprised with how much their vision resonated with audiences. See for yourself! Positive Action with Every Transaction: Ediblescapes 

Be bold, be brave, and just start sharing your beautiful stories! And make sure to listen to the feedback and responses from your community, iterate if you need to and just keep on telling your story.


With 2020 (finally!) coming to an end, it’s time to start dreaming up the story you want to tell in 2021. And, if you need support to find, shape and share your story, download our free Story Canvas or book a dedicated Story Clinic in the New Year. 


“Stories are all around us. We may not recognise them, but they’re there – just waiting to be found, shaped, and shared.” – Rob Biesenbach

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