3 Essential Components of Effective Storytelling

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 10.58.03 PMBy Kara Frost

Storytelling is a crucial way to connect with your nonprofit audience. Compiling a good visual story is almost a surefire way to empower your audience to respond to a call to action; but first, your story needs to be compelling!

Caryn Stein, Vice President of Communications and Content at Network for Good lists three essential components of effective storytelling:

1. Create a strong emotional pull.

The purpose of your story is to trigger an emotional response that will make your audience want to join in your mission. Whether your story makes your audience feel excited, inspired, upset, or angry, emotions are quite often what drive human behavior. Help your audience to feel first, then act.

2. Zone in on a singular focus.

Sometimes we just want to tell our audience all the reasons our organization is so great. DO NOT give in to this temptation, it only confuses the message of your story. Creating a focused story allows you to really develop one aspect of your organization rather than briefly summarizing several components. Simple, clear stories yield better results than those that are indistinct.

3. Make a clear tie to your audience. 

Your audience should be able to accurately perceive why your story should be important to them. Does your story inspire empathy? Can your audience see themselves in your story? Does your message provoke positive change? If your audience can’t relate to your story, it will be virtually ineffective.

Creating a story your audience will respond to is a complex, dynamic process. Incorporating these three components into the foundation of your story will increase your chances for a successful outreach. I’d love to hear your thoughts… what other qualities have been essential to your nonprofit’s storytelling?

Kara Frost is a senior at the University of Iowa studying Health & Human Physiology and currently working on receiving a certificate in Fundraising & Philanthropy Communication. She is very passionate about the nonprofit world and hopes to someday work for a nonprofit health organization.

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