A friend of mine runs a high-impact non-profit agency. She’s having the first meeting with her new board tonight and asked me how I thought she might tell the story of her agency. I share it here in case it might help you tell your organization’s story some day.
First, gather the elements you’ll need.
1. What is the “one thing” that is, was and always shall be about your agency? That’s likely one sentence or even just a few words. You should be able to say this off the top of your head. Your whole story will be told just to emphasize, support, make memorable, that one thought.
2. Think of 3-5 real stories of real people where your “one thing” has been realized. Figure out how to relate those accounts in less than a minute each. (Note: the purpose isn’t to tell it all; the purpose is to get people to feel the emotion and likely even get them to say, “tell me more about…..”)
3. Think of the people through whom you’ve delivered the “one thing,” especially volunteers, and get a story or two of them…. again, less than one minute each.
4. You might want to have a statistic or two but they are not required. If you do use numbers, connect them to your “one thing.” XXX people’s lives shifted because of this program, OR, XXX volunteers have been able to give back in this meaningful way.
Now you are ready to prepare it. Here’s a framework.
1. Pick your best two stories from those identified. Choose the second best story and begin by telling it.
2. When the story is finished, talk about how that connects to who you have always been as an agency. State your “one thing.”
3. Tell another story.
4. Repeat your “one thing” using different words if possible. Perhaps you can add a line of how your work has been validated by a major external party.
5. Tell another story.
6. Repeat your “one thing” using different words. Perhaps you can underline that with a quote from a satisfied client or one of their loved ones.
7. Tell another story.
8. Repeat your “one thing” using new words if you can. This time you might praise the volunteer board members or other key stakeholders who have made it all happen.
9. If you want, tell another story or two followed by a repeat of the “one thing” with a comment or two that supports it.
10. You may say at some point, “and along the way we picked up some amazing partners who shared, or at least bought into, our “one thing” but don’t dwell on that at all. They aren’t the story. The difference you make is the story.
11. I said at the beginning to pick your two best stories. Save the best one for last. Tell that story now and quit. Don’t repeat the “one thing” again. Just let it happen.
The order of the supplemental comments in 4, 6, 8 don’t matter.
The key is – second best story first, best story last. Have the “one thing” so embedded in the stories that they own both for themselves.
Don’t write this out. Just jot down the points. Tell this from your heart, not from a paper.
Remember, a story is not about convincing people “OF” something, it’s about enrolling people “IN” something. This is about reaching their emotions not about reaching their minds.
I hope this helps you frame your story and tell it with impact.