Storytelling tips

Take a look at these tips and tools for storytelling based on shared experiences from the British Red Cross, Age UK and more.
A woman smiling at the camera

How can you source stories? 

Sourcing stories can often be time consuming, but ultimately, it’s about your relationships with those in your community. 

  • Set up a video call  
    It’s easier to have a more fluid conversation with someone when you can read their reactions and expressions. Instead of setting up a phone call have you considered the use of video chat? It might not be suitable for everyone but if so, AgeUK have put a great guide together to help people use video technology.

  • Can you join a support group? 
    Let’s use remote working to our advantage and join those virtual chats that are happening and start building relationships with the people that use NHS and social care services. Make sure that you make it known how you can benefit these people e.g. signpost them to local support services. 

  • Do you have relationships with front line workers? 
    Reach out to the people that run services, whether that be at your local pharmacy, dentist, care home or hospital. Can you arrange a phone call to learn more about their experience? Can you shadow them for half a day? To gain real insight into how services work, build trust with front line workers, and truly understand a patient’s experience this could be a great way to build relationships. This might not be possible during the pandemic, but one to keep in your back pocket for the future. 

  • Talk to your volunteers and staff members
    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you have stories right under your nose. Ask your staff and volunteers to share their story – how have they helped people, what impact have they made?  

Top tip

Has COVID-19 changed the way that people are consuming your content? Check your analytics on your website and social media to see if you should be planning your content at certain points in the day to maximise its engagement. 

Making the most of your material 

Not everything has to result in a two-page story. It can be just as impactful to share a photo of someone’s experience, or an emotive quote. How can you use it now, and in the future?  

It’s important to think about what platforms you are using to showcase your story. Can you re-purpose a story that you’ve used before and just display it in a different way? Try creating yourself a pack that includes: 

  • Website content 
  • Twitter post 
  • Facebook post
  • Short summary (50 words) that can be used in short adverts or in your newsletter 
  • Pictures 
  • Additional information that you might need for later e.g. background information or whether the person is open to media 

Top tip

You should know your priorities for the year, so why not plan to get case studies ahead of time rather than last minute? This can help take the pressure off and the sooner you start building relationships with people, the better. 

Keeping the storyteller’s needs first 

You need to remember why people are telling their story. Quite often it’s because they don’t want other people to have the same negative experience that they’ve had, so what they are telling you can quite often be difficult.  

Make sure that you leave enough time for your interview, leave time for it to overrun. Sometimes people just want to talk and it’s important that we give them space to feel heard. You should also question whether it’s the right time to tell that story – would it be detrimental to the individual? 

When conducting an ‘interview’ it’s important that you display openness and active listening. Respond to what people are telling you, not just the questions on your sheet. 

Top tip

Don’t just share back the content with the person, share back the reaction that their story has had too. People’s motive is to help others so it’s important that you’ve demonstrated how they’ve done this through their story. 

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