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All Great Stories Have These 6 Important Qualities

"Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving."

-Madeleine L’Engle 


What are your favourite stories - the ones you keep telling and retelling? Are they stories that have shaped your actions? Have you ever wondered what it is about these stories that compelled you to share them or act on them?

Whether we are part of a start-up, for profit or non-profit organisation or social enterprise, we all try to tell our best stories, capture the attention of our target audience and draw them in to respond to our offer of value.

My team and I, at Our Better World, help non-profits and social enterprises bring out their best through stories, and we have discovered that there are some key elements that make a good story:

  • It’s moving – it offers an emotional connection
  • It resonates – we identify with it based on own stories, situations and interests
  • There’s a journey – of ups and downs, hurdles and overcoming, challenge and triumph
  • It’s authentic – real and without pretence, hidden agenda or hard sell
  • It’s simple – one powerful message that is clear and easily accessible
  • It passes the true test – we love it and love to retell it or share it ourselves

From the stories we have told, we have observed that those which have passed the true test usually are big on inspiration, small on information and offer a simple response or action.


Sok Hwee’s story is an example of such a story.

Sok Hwee was shocked when she heard news about a migrant worker who was left to die in the drain. That got her confronting her own prejudices and started befriending a migrant worker, Senthil, in her neighbourhood. Together with her family, their friendship with Senthil grew beautifully. That inspired her to start conducting English classes for migrant workers.

Her story drew audiences to take the action of volunteering for the English classes and this meant more migrant workers could learn English.

With the ever increasing clutter of information we get bombarded with every day, we do not need more information coming at us. Instead, we want to feel delight, surprise and hope from the stories we consume. We then want to share that emotion with others and be empowered to make an impact.

What is your story? I’m sure there’s something delightful, hopeful or surprising about the work you do. Something that people will remember, tell and retell.

Ready for the next step? Figure out how to tell your most compelling story in our next post, or pop by Found. to tell us directly!

If you are creating impact for communities in Asia, we’d love to hear all about it, so come join the Good Story Pitch. Deadline for submission is 9 October 2016. 

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