All of us have stories that can inspire action. The challenge is: how do you find your own most compelling story?
"People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around."
I love this quote! It highlights the power of storytelling. When was the last time you heard a story that shaped your perspectives and perhaps your actions? Or was there a movie you watched that made you think harder about your choices in life?
Stories are powerful. That’s because stories are narratives of our human experience. Stories help us connect as people and reflect our shared humanity. Stories shape who we are.
All of us have stories that can inspire action, whether it is getting customers to buy your product, convincing potential funders to invest in your business or trying to interest a potential partner to collaborate with you.
I believe the challenge many a time is: how do you find your most compelling story?
When you convey the compelling truth at the foundation of why you do what you do, it draws people in. The truth, the “why”, is the essence of your story.
Today, stories that can cut through the clutter are those that are moving, simple, authentic, and have journeys that can resonate with others. The true test is when the stories are shared and retold. If you think about it--every company has a story, not just the social enterprises.
“The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again.”
― Arundhati Roy
In our team (Our Better World) ’s work of unearthing stories of individuals, social enterprises and non-profits doing good in Asia, and telling those stories to inspire people to get involved in that good, we constantly remind ourselves to:(1) Look beyond the obvious
Look for the whys in different people and places. The real story is often hidden behind the “what we do”. Look for the uncommon, something that stands out from the norm eg. an ex-convict who teaches “potential gangsters” to dance, to keep them off the streets; a fisherman who runs a library for children; the blind playing tennis; buying soap that can help women who were trafficked.(2) Drink coffee like it’s free and listen like it’s a date
Get on the ground, have as many conversations as you can, hear from customers, beneficiaries, volunteers, teammates and partners. Also, look at things from different angles. You will be amazed by the treasures you will find when you ask questions that are open, like Why, How and What. And then listen.(3) Listen to yourself
Ask yourself what is it that you tell your closest friends or family members about the work you do - what gets you excited? That should remind you of the core of why you do what you do, and help you avoid jargon and impersonal information. Practice mindfulness, and try describing yourself in the simplest terms possible.(4) Keep testing
Tell people different stories about your work and see which ones resonate. When it is face to face, see which ones light people up. And when you share it online, measure the engagement. Keep testing using different types of stories or different angles, and keep learning what people think is your most compelling story.
We all could be more conscious of unearthing and telling our own stories.
May your stories resonate with your audiences and be remembered and retold. We'd love to hear your stories--at Found., our community is committed to empowering you to convey your story and share it with other like-minded people. We'd love to see your faces at one of our upcoming events!