12/21/2017 0 Comments
This piece originally appeared on AshokaU.
Tell me, what grabs your attention more: a list of statistics spelling out the down and dirty facts, or a story – a narrative that really draws you in with a common mission? Recent research suggests you’d choose the latter, proving that our brains are far more engaged by storytelling than the cold, hard facts. This is true for nonprofits, just as much as it’s true for any university campus changemaker initiative.
We are now in a new age of marketing. Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. It gives your audience a chance to feel like they’re one with an authentic cause and person – the human behind the brand. Great leaders recognize that human connection comes far before concepts and strategies, because after all, what’s a strategy without a story to drive it?
Changemaker initiatives on campus compete for student attention with so many other campus departments and programs. Embracing the wisdom of a good story is one way to break through the noise, all while tapping into digital platforms to spread that story near and far. From Facebook Livestream to harnessing the immersive storytelling power of virtual reality, there have never been more ways to engage and inspire your audience, and that all starts with crafting a compelling narrative.
While it may seem that some people are just born storytellers – take Tom’s Shoes founder Blake Mycoski or Teach for America’s Wendy Kopp – what I’ve found from interviewing countless organization leaders is that it’s more the product of a whole lot of preparation and practice than that of innate talent. As we head into a new semester and a new year, use these tips to create your own narrative for your changemaker initiative.
Get to Know Your Audience
Whether you’re preparing a presentation or designing an event, you must know your audience. I suggest sitting down with your team to create your target audience’s persona, so that you can ensure you’re speaking to them directly. Ask yourself these questions:
Connect the Story to a Popular Narrative
One of the most powerful ways to create a sense of urgency is by connecting your message to a current issue in the news, or crafting a “news hook.” Constantly be alert to what’s happening in the news, and be ready to pounce on as soon as it hits. This gives you the chance to author an opinion piece that links back to your changemaker initiative, or use relevant happenings during a presentation. Use the stories to help promote your message, and remember, the more topical you can make a presentation, facebook post, or background story, the more convincing your call to action will be.
How to Craft Your Story
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to jump in to craft your own narrative. As you get started, ask yourself these questions:
Kathleen Kelly Janus is a social entrepreneur, author and lecturer at the Stanford Program on Social Entrepreneurship. Her new book, Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make a Difference, shares all this and more. Whether you’re ready to launch a new centre on campus, a new nonprofit, or teach students how to do so, you’ll find all the tools and tricks you need to make a difference.