The power of stories

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of watching numerous pitches by charities to companies.  Some have been good, few have been great and many have been disappointing. 

There are many important aspects to a great pitch, but the thing that stands out for us, is the presenter’s ability to tell a story. 

We all love stories. A good story can convey a message, entertain and ignite a fire within your audience. As Vera Nazarian, the Armenian-Russian American writer said,  

“The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind.”  

And charities have stories in spades!  But they need to be told in the right way! 

Many people think that the art of storytelling is something difficult and complex, reserved only for certain skilled members of society. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The skills necessary to tell a story can be acquired through practice and with the right toolkit, everyone can become a master storyteller. 

Whether you are trying to attract new partners or engage your current ones, quality storytelling is the way to go. So here are our seven recommendations for telling powerful stories: 

1. Know your audience  

Before beginning your story, spend 5 minutes thinking about who you are targeting. Who are you speaking to? What is their role in the business? What do they care about?  What are they looking for in a charity partner?  Do you need to come across more professional or will a friendly tone work better?  

2. Make them care 

A good story is an authentic and genuine story. Don’t be afraid to share personal experiences with your audience. Most importantly, you want to share your story from an emotional point of view. Your goal is to build empathy with your audience. A great example of this is when Georgi Welch secured a partnership with Bridge’s Estate Agent for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. She shared her own story in such a powerful way that the Chairman agreed to the partnership on the spot. 

3. Set the scene 

We experience the world through our senses, so you want to share how things look, sound, feel, smell and taste. By engaging the senses of your audience and setting the scene, you will achieve a more immersive experience for your audience. Also these will be the memorable details that your audience will take away so they can share the story themselves. 

4. Be creative with time 

Sometimes you can choose to catapult the audience straight into the midst of all the action, or to the end of the story to catch their attention. It is also one of the most effective create curiosity, suspense and tension. Since your audience does not know what is happening, they will want to continue listening to solve the missing pieces of the puzzle. 

5. Engage your audience 

Remove the boundary between your audience and you, the storyteller. Engage them with a question and put them in the centre of  the story. This way, you create a first-hand experience of the narrative, igniting the desire for them to want to be involved with your cause. 

6. Use tension 

Have you ever read a book that was so intense you simply had to keep on reading until you finished it, completely forgetting about time and space? This is what you are trying to achieve with your story. Be descriptive when describing the crucial moments in your story.  Be expressive and inject emotion into the story you are telling.  

7. Use a prop 

We recommend you use a prop to really bring your story to life. We organized an online corporate engagement event wih SolarAid. On that call, their CEO told a powerful story about a school dormitory that burnt down due to a fire started by a candle. Tragically all of the 12 girls sleeping in the dormitory died. At the crucial moment of the story, he held up a burnt exam paper that they had retrieved from the fire. It was incredibly powerful and one of the most memorable moments from the event.  

So we encourage you to tell powerful stories to your prospects and partners. Tell them often and share them with feeling and commitment. If you do this you will significantly increase your chances of securing and delivering successful corporate partners  

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