There are two parts to storytelling – you have to know the story and you have to know how to tell it. We often consider the process as a whole, but the two elements are distinct and separate.

There are many examples where this challenge plays out. I see people of all ages struggle with articulating their strengths – understanding what they even are, let alone communicating them in a resume or cover letter. Leaders are often aware of the accomplishments of their organization, but become challenged in making them concise and compelling in media or grants. Organizational leaders right now are wondering whether or not to put out a message about the social unrest – they have a vehicle to share a message, but are wrestling with what to say or what story they have to tell. Every day I have to dig deep to determine not only a message for a dot, but a lesson that has relevance to those reading it.

I think it makes our communication more effective if we treat the knowing and telling as two components instead of one. Begin with the story itself — raising your consciousness of what makes you or your organization different from others in a similar role, keeping track of anecdotes and figures that bring the story to life, and always being mindful of the environment and the messages that are currently relevant to your audience. Then you can focus on how to tell the story – relying on past experiences regarding the most effective media to reach your clients, drawing on lessons you’ve gleaned from other writing that struck a chord with you, and utilizing an established look/tone/voice to communicate your messages.

Think about what you’re best at – what you say or how you say it – and work to find others to help you enhance your weaker part. To be effective, you need to have both elements in synch.

 

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