Tips on Becoming a Better Storyteller

Last year I had the opportunity to hear Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications speak on the topic of Storytelling. See3 describes themselves as an agency that 

provides strategy, video and web services to nonprofits and social causes. We help do-gooders change the world by delivering on goals like fundraising, awareness, recruitment, and more.

Hoffman spoke to the Creative Media Services team during a one-day workshop. His goal was to help us improve the ways in which we tell the St. Jude story. If you work in video production and you produce content designed to raise awareness for and motivate audiences to get involved with a particular cause, then pay attention to the following insights on Storytelling.

Models of Storytelling

  • The founding story: How it all began. Don't tell an institutional story. Tell a "people" story. Audiences care more about people and their journeys.
  • The story of self: Who am I? Why have we been called to do what we do?
  • The story of us: How did people come together to try and make change?
  • The story of now: The challenges the community now faces, choices we must make, and the hope to which we can aspire.

The Hero's Journey

  1. The establishment of an ordinary world
  2. The hero is called to adventure
  3. The hero refuses the call
  4. The hero meets a mentor
  5. The hero crosses the threshold
  6. The hero encounters tests, allies, enemies, etc.
  7. The hero enters what's called "the innermost cave"
  8. The ordeal
  9. The reward
  10. The road back
  11. The resurrection
  12. The return with the elixir

If you produce video content for a nonprofit, remember that in the hero's journey the brand or institution is the Mentor character. It is the Donor who is the Hero. Always put the Donor in the role of Hero. People want to be in the winning group and it is the Donor who has the ability to solve the problem, through time, energy, and/or money.

Storytelling Tips

  1. Keep it simple - Leave the audience with one central idea or message, but remember to center it around people not an institution. For example:

2. Make it personal - Look what Charity:Water produced on their 5th birthday

3. Be the moon - The moon reflects light. The brand should reflect what the donors do. It's the brand that needs the donors.

Hopefully these tips will help you generate new ideas as you continue to produce video content for your clients. As always, if you have any advice, suggestions, or examples, please leave them in the Comments field below.