Many of us changemakers are adept at communicating WHAT we do. We do not always communicate WHY we do it. But your WHY is what engages your audience. It's what gets your audience connected to your mission and rooting for your people. The WHY is critical for developing a powerful storytelling campaign that shows your audience the impact you are creating in the world.
Before beginning a storytelling campaign, I lead a creative, hands-on discovery session to help organizational leaders get clear on the essential themes they want to communicate in our work together. These themes become the Heart of the Story. They inform every element of the storytelling campaign.
Your Heart of the Story is your WHY. It is the core of WHY you do what you do. The WHY focuses on the impact you are creating in peoples lives, not the mechanics of your program.
Inevitably, when the team participates in this creative workshop, the one refrain we hear over and over is this: "Wow, we should use these themes in all of our communication strategies."
Creating the Heart of the Story for your organization before we go into interviewing, storyboarding and filming is invaluable. Without this tool, it is too easy to let a communication campaign be driven by the WHAT. Suddenly, your storytelling campaign is diluted with program jargon instead of the lived experiences of the people who have been affected by your work.
For example, MLT Ascend is a program that coaches first-generation colleges students to succeed in college and beyond. When the team worked together on The Heart of the Story, it became clear that the best way to share the impact MLT is creating was to focus on the stories of students who have been succeeding because of MLT.
To illustrate the themes MLT uncovered, we told the story of Tre Dawson, a student who has overcome the challenges he faced in high school and is now thriving at Howard University with the support of his MLT coach. After receiving MLT's coaching, Tre wants to reach back to his community and offer guidance to young men who need support to reach their dreams.
We rounded out the film with the portraits and stories of many other MLT Ascend students. These stories all focused on the crossroads students faced, the connections that helped them feel supported, the decisions they made to persevere, the confidence they have developed as a result of having a coach, and the dreams they have for their future.
You have to tell yourself, “I can do this!” And now I believe that I can! My support network, my coach, my family, they all believe in me. Because of them, I know that I can be somebody someday.
Adam told me it was all about mindset. He said, “Tell yourself that you are going to succeed and you will.” And he was right! Now I’m capable of doing things that I used to think were impossible.
There are a million ways to shape a storytelling campaign. Coming HOME to your WHY, the Heart of the Story, will always guide you back to the people and the impact you are creating in their lives. These are the stories that inspire, motivate, and move your audiance to get involved with your mission.
To work with us to find YOUR Heart of the Story, contact us here.