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The power of story

As a communications expert over the years I have seen many trends being used by individuals, as well as development and environmental organisations and businesses. What is the right kind of website for us? Do I need a newsletter? Do we need an App that people will want to download and use? Does my organisation need LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Is advertising useful?

These are all in fact mediums, channels by which to communicate with potential clients, allies, stakeholders and interested parties. The most important thing for any organisation is have a strong story, to make sure it has a narrative that engages with these key people.

It would be easy to dismiss ‘storytelling’ as the latest fad. Everyone is talking about it. There are numerous events, articles and courses about it. However it is has proven to be essential in our evolution as a species. So why does it seem extra important now?

All day long we are bombarded by information and data via our telephones,  televisions, computers, tablets, colleagues, family, friends, radios and newspapers. How can we possibly digest it all? How can an individual break through the noise to make sure her important message is heard? Facts are not enough.

As the French cineaste Jean-Luc Godard said: “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”

We need to tap into emotions that inspire people to build movements, create change, and tap into the visceral human need to evolve and create a bigger change. A strong narrative brings people together for a common goal, and builds communities.

Many leaders, organisations and businesses make the mistake in thinking that hard facts are enough to convince people that an issue is highly important. However human beings are not robots, we are creatures driven by emotion, so to break through the noise, you have to connect emotionally with your target audiences.

Stories have to appeal to people’s moral codes, and touch on the deep values of its audiences. It is through the shared values in these stories that people will identify a unique reason for believing  in your story.

This means that for communities or organisations trying to affect positive social and environmental change, stories have the power to unite people by acknowledging shared challenges, and uncovering the roots of the problem and sources of hope as a community.

However a good story doesn’t just convey the root of our challenges, but also lifts up our heroes and highlights success stories. This is essential in creating the belief that if we come together and take action as a community, we can uproot some of the underlying causes of societal and environmental destruction.

The digital world has created an overload of data and information making it difficult to always know how to engage. Your stories help to create connections by tapping into emotions, by inspiring, intriguing, connecting – bringing people together with something fundamental.

Humanity is going to keep telling stories. To break through the chatter, it is all a question of what your own unique voice is? What does your organisation or company have in its essence that appeals to your target audiences core values, and how you are going to inspire them to action?