The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling
6 Jan, 2021
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Storytelling has taken on a new dimension in the 21st century. The job title “Chief Storyteller” is now commonplace at large organisations looking to utilise stories to bring their brand messaging to life in the digital age. And in 2022, though not the primary role we perform in our working lives, storytelling is ubiquitous.
Stories help us as people connect. This connection drives engagement critical for productivity, advocacy, performance, and well, growth.
I want to address one of the biggest mistakes storytellers make when starting this article. To help illustrate this, let’s look at a real-life story example.
Black men regularly struggle to access networking and career advancement opportunities in the tech industry. Representation of Black men in technical roles is disproportionately low and is not growing fast enough. Meanwhile, tech giants like Amazon operate in one of the most competitive global job markets, where investing in talent and skills is critical. Investing in talent from Black communities is not just the right thing to do; it also presents a significant opportunity.
Let’s say I want to tell this story. I have a background in storytelling, a technical solution to enable it (Seenit), and I am determined to make it all happen. I also have the best intentions to tell it properly. So I draw up a brief, find some willing contributors, and ask them to go out and film some videos for me.
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I don’t have the perspective, understand the subject matter, or share experiences with the contributors I’m asking to film. The approach above will fail for a critical reason:
I don’t understand what it’s like to be a Black man working in tech.
So I won’t ask the right questions, and I certainly won’t build the trust I need from my contributors to share their stories in their way.
Storytelling should be collaborative. As a storyteller, it’s not your job to manufacture the story; it’s your job to find the story. And the best way you find stories is by talking to people. Don’t go in with a preconceived notion that you know what the story is already. Instead, go in with questions to find out what the story is.
Provide the right people with the right tools and platforms to tell their stories and be heard.
At Seenit one of our values is curiosity. Curiosity goes hand-in-hand with storytelling, and by being curious, you will not just work out the questions to ask and build the trust you need; you’ll also find out what the story truly is.
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