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The Kind of Storytelling That Makes an Impact: An Extensive Guide

Storytelling is growing to be one of the most essential parts of making an impact. If you have a great product, a wonderful team, a wonderful cause, but are without a compelling and clear story, you will still struggle to get a breakthrough.

The power of a great and compelling story is unlike any other. It can motivate and rally people into action. Think about Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey. What do these people have in common? Aside from being very successful and wealthy, they are also amazing storytellers.

Best-selling author and speaker Seth Godin shares that, “…stories (not ideas, not features, not benefits) are what spread from person to person.” Stories inspire movements, advance causes and change cities and nations. They also propel businesses, organisations and communities to new and greater heights.

So is your business telling great and compelling stories? Maybe you aren’t convinced that stories matter. That you don’t need them for you to make an impact. Let’s look at why it is.

You Can Impact Lives With Stories

We’ve travelled all over the world- to northern, central and eastern Australia, Spain, Turkey, The Middle East and Papua New Guinea with a desire to tell people’s stories. We’ve worked to help local farmers, thriving businesses, growing startups, socially-driven enterprises and educational institutions.

And we were witness to what difference they had made in the past and watched that influence grow as they trusted us to introduce a framework of compelling storytelling through film. With almost every film we made, their impact grew. And so did their bottom line. I have found that there are two reasons why your business or organisation needs great stories- they capture people’s attention and they build clarity and trust.

Great stories capture people’s attention. Consider the most moving speeches, business proposals, marketing campaigns or presentations. They’re stories! And what do they do? They get a hold of your focus and deliver a message that will probably convince you to do something- sign a petition, buy a product, support a candidate.

With a compelling and powerful story, you can catch people’s attention and have an open door to win people over. Imagine what power that would have if we paired a great idea that could change a community or even the world to that! It would create serious impact and long lasting change.

Stories, Clarity and Trust

Moreover, great stories build clarity and trust. “Hit Makers” author Derek Thompson shares, “People gravitate toward products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible.” If you want to get people on your side, they need to understand what you’re trying to say. Stories make it extremely easy to do that.

And on top of providing clarity, we also need stories to build trust with your audience. People will not buy into your idea unless they trust you. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You’ll be in a very good position when you tell stories. It has to be part of your day to day schedule. Telling stories through social media, presentations, or even just day to day interactions. We live in a time where communication is extremely easy. We’d be doing ourselves and the world a disservice by refusing to tell our story.

The Kinds of Stories You Should Be Telling

What kind of stories should you be telling if you want to build influence and impact others? At Pluggas, we have had the privilege to work extensively with various organisations and companies on a mission in various parts of Australia.

It all started with a project we did years back called Business Insights, where we made mini-film documentaries of local businesses in the Bundaberg and Byron Bay area. We thought it was just a small project. But then our films started getting tens of thousands of views on Facebook. By then it was pretty clear to us that we were onto something big.

We’ve been helping small businesses, and even bigger clients, clarify and broadcast their mission to the world through film. We have discovered four stories that each one of us should be telling if we want to make an impact.

These four are a fraction of what we’ve learned through legendary storyteller, Patrick Moreau and the Stillmotion team- the guys behind Muse Storytelling. Here are four stories that you should be telling if you want to change the world.

Story #1 | Origin Story

An origin story is one that tells your audience about your beginnings. Tons of people tell these stories. Why? Because the beauty of an origin story is that we all have one. Think about your favorite fictional character. The chances are high that the character has an origin story.

What does an origin story do and why is it essential? If there’s any story that establishes trust best it’s an origin story. That’s because an origin story is a bear-it-all tale where you introduce yourself to your audience. Knowing your origin will establish trust between you and your audience, and it will go both ways.

Case Study: Macadamia Australia

One example of an origin story we’ve made is for a leading Macadamia producer in Australia, Macadamia Australia. Told through the fond memories of the children of the founders, Ron and Marion Steinhardt, this film was created for a Gala event they held for stakeholders and staff.

An origin story can be told in many ways – through the about page of a website, a history video of a company or a keynote speech. Some of the most influential people on earth at some point made their origins known. Why do you think autobiographies and biographies of successful people became a thing? It’s because origin stories are powerful.

There have been many biographies written on Steve Jobs. The one by Walter Isaacson might be the most popular of them all. What do these biographies do? Two things: They teach you things that Steve Jobs did to build an empire and they sell you the culture and brand of Apple. In both cases, they change your life! Origin stories are great ways to share a journey and give anecdotes and lessons that transform people’s lives.

Story #2 | Impact Story

An impact story is one where you show and share the things that you, your business or organisation has done to bring change to the lives of others. These stories can include people you’ve helped, good you’ve done and differences you’ve made. These kinds of stories act as a form of proof to the value or benefit you bring to others around you.

When telling an impact story, what you are doing is answering the question “what’s in it for me?” for your audience through true to life examples.

This film from Charity:Water is a great example of an impact story. It shows you what could be through a certain initiative. Impact stories are powerful in that it gives you a look into what has been done and what else can be done if the movement, brand or cause continues. As is the effect of this ad by showing us what impact Charity:Water has on the lives of children in developing countries without access to clean water.

Why do impact stories matter? It’s because they remind people of what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. You will always need social proof to show the value that is behind you, your brand, your business or your cause. Impact stories are often told by charities and non-profits. They show what people’s donations are able to do.

Story #3 | Values Story

A values story is one that showcases your mission and vision to your audience. It introduces people to your deepest and most compelling “why.” The purpose of your business, movement or life. Telling a why story is probably one of the most powerful things you can do. It attracts people to more than just what you have to offer. It pulls people towards the deepest sense of meaning.

As human beings, we run by a values-driven code. We are attracted to people and organisations whose why aligns with ours. If you value family, you’d probably be attracted to a documentary or promotion that lines up values that relate to family, parenting and marriage. If you value adventure, you’d probably be attracted to stories about travel and destination.

Your Values Connect to Your “Why”

Creating a values story involves making clear your “why” to your audience and attracting people who will share the same values. When telling your story, your “why” should be one of the first things you should communicate. According to Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why,” some of the best leaders and innovators in history started with their why.

When you communicate your why, you are building a bridge between you and your audience by connecting with their deepest values. This allows you to build trust that goes to the deepest level and wins people over to your cause. As a result, you can then ask people to take a certain call to action- to follow your social media accounts, buy your product, give money to your cause and so on.

Story #4 | Teaching Story

A teaching story is one that leaves a lesson for people to take away. It could be informational or inspirational. Many social media influencers are in the business of telling teaching stories. Motivational speakers, business consultants, life coaches and gurus are always out to tell teaching stories.

Whether it’s a story teaching business, yoga, cooking, history, or any other field. The value behind a teaching story is obvious in that it provides people with knowledge that could improve their way of life or expand their understanding of a certain field.

Take for instance when we created a story for Bundaberg Regional Council and the Bundaberg Fruits and Vegetable growers. We created the video with the intent of educating Australians on the opportunities found in the agricultural sector of our nation. The film we created drew a lot of attention, getting as many as 24,000 views and 600 shares on Facebook.

How to Tie Stories To Your Brand

There are many stories you can tell and different ways that you can do that. And you should be taking advantage of every single opportunity you can. Here are a few of the many ways that you can make your story heard.

Create a Film Series.Video is today’s most powerful medium. According to Hubspot, 45% of people watch as much as 1 hour of video online a day. Telling stories through film is a great way to get to people. You can get your video on streaming services like YouTube, social media platforms like Facebook or even high traffic areas like shopping centres or airports.

Communicate It To Your Internal Team and Partners. If there’s anyone who should hear your story most, it’s your stakeholders and team. If you’re running a business or non-profit, your staff should be your first evangelists. Tell them stories during your meetings and internal events to communicate messages that matter most to the organisation.

Put Them on Your Website. It’s almost a must that everyone have a .com of their own. While it’s true that social media has more power, having a website of your own still has value. Michael Hyatt, author of “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World,” shares that having your own website is still vital. That’s because you have complete control of your flow, design and content on your own website. Build a website and build a customised platform for yourstory for your audience to check today.

Tell Stories on Social Media.On top of your own website, you shouldn’t miss the chance to tell your own story on social media as well. Many of our stories are told on our social media channels and a lot of people have heard about us through Facebook and Instagram. In social media, getting a thousand impressions will cost you very minimal time and little to no dollar expenses either.

Create a Keynote presentation.We live in a day and age where people highly value ideas. People want to hear your ideas. People make events that allow people to share their opinions all the time. No, you’re not limited to TED. There should be dozens of local events where you can get on a platform and share a thought through a keynote speech or a pitch. Make use of these opportunities. Get other thought leaders who will share in your cause or mission to connect with you.

Conclusion

Connection and impact are some of the deepest longings of people. We don’t want to leave this Earth without having some sort of impact. And if you want to make that happen, you need to become a storyteller.

We’ve spent a great deal of time helping people tell their stories. Many of those stories have made a difference in the lives of others and we’re happy we get the chance to do that. If you need help telling your story, you can always reach out to us. We’re more than happy to help you out.

We all have an idea, an itch. And we can’t wait to be heard because we know our ideas matter. The more stories we tell and the better you tell them, the more people you will impact.

About the Author Fisch

Director & Cinematographer, Fisch Rasy's love of storytelling inspires him to create powerful films. Sometimes dad duties spill over onto onset, where he's been known to give the kids a real hands on experience...

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