Seven Tips for Effective Storytelling

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of practice are necessary to become an expert or master in a chosen field of practice.

10 000 hours

Our chosen field of practice at donorworx is face-to-face fundraising, which we also like to think of as the art of storytelling. Who better to look to as a Master Storyteller then Lori L Jacbowith, who has more than 25 years of experience telling and coaching thousands of stories as both a nonprofit staff person and a trainer and coach.

Lori shares her top 7 suggestions for mastering your storytelling.

  1. Stories should be about real people who need something, hopefully something that YOUR organization provides.
  2. Allow the person in your story to have a real name, age, and to speak for themselves.
  3. Minds wander, get real quickly. In about 4 – 10 seconds your listeners tune out if you haven’t grabbed them. Don’t tell me you are going to tell me a story about someone, just tell it. Starting with the person’s name, age, and a few descriptive words.
  4. Keep your story short. 6 words to 2 minutes is the length I recommend.
  5. Allow your story to cause me to feel something. Anger, sadness, happiness, pride–it doesn’t matter what the emotion is; I just have to feel something.
  6. Your story should have a moment that paints a picture so I see myself or someone in my life. Could be aging parents, the daughter of the person who made my latte or took my bank deposit today, or even my own child.
  7. The best stories are told by the person themselves. Clients telling their own stories are the most moving way to share how your organization makes a difference.
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