Storytelling tools: Listening

Storytelling through video is a powerful tool for your organization. Your stories can motivate and influence your donor base, develop new volunteers, open customer markets and much more. But from where do these stories come? Actually, stories exist everywhere within your organization, you just need to be intentional about hearing them.

Listening for stories is a practice

Story listening really isn’t an art, you just have to practice doing it. Take time to pay attention to what is happening around you. Maybe your organization has a culture of sending out update emails about successes. Perhaps you gather your staff regularly to share experiences. There really isn’t a formula for what makes up a story, it can be short and anecdotal or long an narrative.

Take Notes

As I am listening for stories around me, I try to keep a list of them. I either make note of them in Evernote or in a small notebook that is generally nearby. With the note, I’ll jot down what I find interesting about that particular story and where it could be told again. You might find that you have a collection of small stories that can be brought together to tell a greater story.

Things to listen for

Regardless of what you do, there are a couple of things that are beneficial to listen for. Stillmotion, filmmakers and storytellers from Portland, have named them the 4 P’s: People : Who is in the story? Who will captivate your viewers? Place: Where does the story happen? What do your locations add to your characters or story? Plot: What is the conflict and what is the journey? Purpose: Why would this story be good to tell? Why should others care?

From listening to telling

As you listen to the stories that surround you, you’ll want to move from listening to telling. Having spent the time to intentionally listen to the stories that surround you, you will be better prepared to tell the right story when the time comes.