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Although storytelling has become quite the buzzword, do you
understand how it fits into your narrative?
At first glance, you might think they are the same, but they
are not, according to John Hagel. He gave a talk at the recent SXSW conference on "Moving from Story to Narrative."
Hagel characterizes stories as having a clear beginning,
middle, and end. Stories are tightly circumscribed with a defined "us" and an "other." They are good for creating emotion and can be powerful. Stories are for
others to witness and are mainly about the storyteller.
Narratives, on the other hand, are open-ended, don’t have a
resolution, and are in the process of unfolding. The open-ended nature of
narratives invites others to participate in order to help create the ending together. The
power of a narrative is in its invitation to others join in the journey.
Narratives can tie together seemingly disparate stories, the way a novel ties
together the chapters of a book.
Narratives ask what we can accomplish and how can we connect
to one another to accomplish our goal. They shift our focus to the long term
and give us something to hold onto on our path to our goal. Narratives invite
participants to demonstrate leadership and use their imagination as we work together
to create a path to our shared destination.
Tapping into your organization’s narrative is your means of
getting your audience invested and involved in your cause. Talking about your
narrative shines a light on the many access points by which your audience can
get involved as volunteers, donors, or board members. Create a well-defined
narrative that strikes an emotional chord and empowers your supporters to take
action on behalf of your shared cause.
Narratives lend themselves to transmedia storytelling, so use
different tools like video and photography. Keep your narrative in mind as you
create your digital stories — think about what ties your content to what you’re
already communicating about your narrative.
Remember that if you really want to embrace your narrative,
then you need to embrace collaboration. True collaboration means allowing your
supporters to use their own tools and methods to add to your organization’s
narrative. Create an environment where you and supporters learn together; you
can start by sharing TechSoup’s Digital Storytelling tips and tools. And then create and submit your own short video (up to 90 seconds) or five-image slide show to TechSoup's 2013 Digital Storytelling Challenge by April 30 to win prizes!
As Hagel noted in closing, powerful movements have been made
and shaped by narratives. So define your narrative and empower your fellow
changemakers to create stories that chart your collective impact and
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.