Don’t Tell Them Everything You Do, Tell Them A Story

I recently read Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last.” It’s a great book with lots of insight. One particular excerpt really stood out to me and it wasn’t really about leadership. Sinek writes,

Numbers of people aren’t people, they’re numbers.”

He then offers two examples of stories of untimely death. One describes mass killings and the other a tragic death of a teenage girl. His point is that our hearts react much more strongly to the story of the single girl than to thousands of people dying.

Why am I telling you this? I think this paradox is something that communicators face all the time. They're taxed with the choice between coverage (numbers and details) and stories (individuals). Many times they pick coverage out of fear. They worry that if they don’t give all the facts, if they don’t describe everything they do, people won’t understand the importance of their organization.

The reality is the opposite. The best way for people to get it is to hear individual stories. To feel first hand the difference that something makes for one person.

I produce a lot of nonrprofit fundraising videos for large nonprofits that are used at their annual galas and this decision point comes up quite a bit. In my experience videos that focus on stories raise much more money than videos that focus on information.

The tricky part is that stories are harder to do. Collecting facts and information is quick and easy. Collecting stories takes time, diligence and a willingness for people to share their experiences. You can’t just look for stories once a year when you need them. You have to always be on the lookout for great stories. If connecting with clients, donors and supporters is what you’re ultimately after -- it really is time well spent.

Here's a recent video we did for a nonprofit in Minnesota called Valley Outreach. They provide a lot of different programs and services that assist people in need but we focused on sharing the story of one person who has been deeply impacted by their outreach efforts.


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