2 Essential Ways to Help you Tell More and Better Stories
There is power in telling stories.
Storytelling has been an impactful communication tool for centuries to convey important messages and connect people. Stories allow a person to share their experiences, beliefs, and ideas in a relatable and engaging way. Telling stories can evoke emotions, create empathy, and inspire action in ways that numbers or descriptions alone cannot. They can also help simplify complex concepts and make them more accessible to a broader audience. Using storytelling as a communication tool allows us to build stronger connections with our church or more general audience and leave a lasting impact.
But telling meaningful, powerful stories dignifiedly can be challenging at times. Many organizations or communicators make the mistake of taking hold of a powerful story and sharing it in a way that loses sight of the storyteller’s original purpose. Worse, a story sometimes becomes a piece of propaganda solely to further the message of a particular organization or person (church or otherwise).
So how can we share stories in an ethical, dignified, and powerful way? Here are two essential tips to help get you started to share more and better stories.
Storytelling starts with trust
Telling dignified stories starts with trust. Sharing a story needs to begin with realizing this is not my story. It’s their story to tell. So we need to build that trust between the storyteller interviewed and the person conducting or sharing their account with a broader audience.
How can you build trust with a person sharing their story? To start, involve them in the process. They’re a human, a person created in the image of God—which means you should treat them like God’s creation rather than another project. Like you build trust in any relationship, start by getting to know them.
The beginning of your story creation process should include getting to know the person, their story on a personal level, what they’re comfortable talking about (and what they’re not), and inviting them into the story creation. Involving a person in the process might also mean that you include them in the editing and production process—let them see a scripted draft or a rough cut and provide feedback. And never produce something without their sign-off first.
Stay focused on the big picture
Second to building trust, and closely aligned with that thought, is to keep the focus centered on the big picture. We realize it’s not our story to tell; it’s the person sharing their testimony. It’s not the church’s story, either. Any story you tell should focus on the big picture: What God is doing through this person.
The focus of any story we tell should not be on the church, a ministry, a program, or a person. The focus should be on what God is doing through this person. This big-picture idea is essential in telling and sharing a person’s story.
When a church or ministry begins to focus on dignified storytelling—ethical storytelling—your ministry also begins to build trust and rapport with a broader community: your congregation. You establish a sense of confidence and clarity by sharing stories respectfully.
These two points are part of a larger conversation, but they’re a great starting point if you’re considering how to tell more stories, tell them better, and love and honor people in the process. If you want to dig deeper, check out Episode 68 of the Church Juice podcast.