What makes for a compelling purpose-driven story? Learn how in this podcast with Allen Carroll.
Allen is a master storyteller. He worked at National Geographic for 27 years where he spearheaded special projects featuring biodiversity, conservation, and indigenous cultures. Allen now leads the esri team that develops storytelling apps that enable thousands of users to combine interactive maps with multimedia content to tell stories to inspire and persuade.
Good stories forge connections among people, and between people and ideas. Stories build familiarity and trust, and allow the listener to enter the story where they are, making them more open to learning. Good stories convey complex ideas in graspable ways. And stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas. - Harvard Business Review
Allen advises humanizing stories so readers can relate to the characters in the story and their situation. This StoryMap by the U.S. Geological Service for instance, explains the context of the harm caused by privatized lands with a mule deer as the main character. Download the free 70 page book on Visualizing Information for Advocacy.
"This story illustrates the importance of seasonal migration on western landscapes and opportunities to conserve them amid a mix of public and private lands... The U.S. Forest Service amended the Bridger-Teton forest plan to create the first federally protected migration corridor. Mule deer that make this migration cross nearly 200 fences annually on their seasonal migrations. Research in nearby areas has shown that these crossings alter or temporarily halt deer movement. Volunteers, contractors, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department staff removed fences at Fremont Lake, opening up the bottleneck."
Storytelling with emotion
"The goal of purpose-drive storytelling is to influence your target audience (change their current attitudes, belief, knowledge, and behavior). Information alone rarely changes any of these. Research confirms that well-designed stories are the most effective vehicle for exerting influence." - Kendall Haven, author of Story Proof and Story Smart.
Roughly 40% of people are visual learners who learn best from videos, diagrams, or illustrations. 40% are auditory, learning best through lectures and discussions. 20% are kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing, experiencing, or feeling. Storytelling work for all three types. Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes. Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.
"Storytelling also helps with learning because stories are easy to remember. Organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser found that learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts and figures. Similarly, psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research suggest that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story." - HBP
Story Based Strategy
Story-based strategy is a participatory approach that links movement building with an analysis of narrative power and places storytelling at the center of social change. Creating stories that challenge dominant narratives and control mythologies? The Battle of the Story helps us craft stories that effectively intervene in the opposition's narrative, uplifting out own underlying assumptions around justice and liberation.
The Center for Story-based Strategy cultivates imagination spaces where story, grassroots leadership, organizing, and democracy are interwoven strategies to build power.
Visualizing Information for Advocacy
Visualizing Information for Advocacy is a free PDF book about how advocates and activists use visual elements in their campaigns. In this 170-page book we explore how to influence issues using the right combination of information, design, technologies and networks. Through over 60 examples of visual information campaigns from around the world we show how they capture attention, present stories and take us on journeys through data.
Whether we’re swamped by it or starved of it, the value of information depends on its quality, and its usefulness depends on our ability to communicate it successfully. As activists, we can't sit and wait for people to wade through sixty-page reports. To influence people we must make strong arguments and communicate them using strong evidence. Well timed, rigorous and well presented information is the greatest asset activists possess.
Harvard Business Publishing
Center For Story Based Strategy
InfoGraphics Lab, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
Wyoming Migration Initiative at the University of Wyoming
TakeAway: Improve your storytelling skills to make a bigger impact.
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