What is it?

There are as many approaches to storytelling as there are people on the planet, and rich and diverse storytelling traditions from different cultures, traditions, media, and others. The foundations for the approach shared here are about persuasive storytelling, and draw from Western, settler, campaign-style approaches that are focused on winning. They are about bringing others on side with your big idea and call to action.

When is it used?

Storytelling is a basic human currency; it shapes all aspects of our lives, every day, whether we notice it or not. In the context of a social innovation process, storytelling can be used at various stages. It might be used to get support at the very beginning of something in order to get commitment to approach a problem in a different way. It might be used at the end of a process to tell the stories of what happened in order to build commitment, support, and constituency for what comes next.

How is it used?

  1. Use the template provided here. It’s worth printing it in the dimensions described as then you’ll get perfect sticky-note sized spaces to populate with the elements of your story.

  2. Start with The Big Idea. This is about your point of view, and what’s at stake. It might be the problem that you’ve been asked to solve, but likely stated in a new way. It’s usually one full sentence. Write this down.

  3. Brainstorm your initial points on sticky notes. Let loose, open up to all possible elements of the story that you might tell that is connected to your Big Idea.

  4. Organize these sticky notes based on common themes, and then label these themes with a message that unites them. Write these new messages on a different colour sticky note. This is where persuasion really needs to kick in.

  5. Organize these messages in a narrative arc, using the template. Draw from the public narrative technique and consider the “the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now” structure and elements. Play with different ways to order your messages for the biggest persuasive impact. Creating contrast, and repeating certain messages are powerful ways to pack some punch, and create memorable messages.

  6. End with a call to action. This should be appropriate for the audience to your story each time you tell it, so you may have a few different calls to action depending on the story you are telling.

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