Storytelling for nonprofits – Are you listening?

Storytelling for nonprofits is not so different than regular storytelling in that the audience is important. We focus so much on what we’re saying, but listening is an important part of storytelling too.

Have you ever been at a networking event having a conversation with someone, and they are looking over your shoulder to see who else more interesting may be around? As a public speaker, I have a fascination for the way people communicate and I often observe this happening.

storytelling for nonprofits lisa evans - are you listening?

It’s incredibly rude! Of course, not all people are like that. The people who truly value others will pay attention and listen, be present and focus on the person they are talking to.  Sadly, I have been to some ‘dump and run’ events – they go a bit like this….”Here’s my biz card, see ya later”,  and I’ll add you to my mailing list just because I said hi to you.  I hate those type of networking events and I avoid them at all costs!

We all want to feel valued

As humans, we want to feel valued and respected. As speakers, we are there to add value to the lives of our audience with the message and story we share. Storytelling for nonprofits is no different – we want our audience to feel included, to feel valued, and that their precious time is respected.

A good business storyteller has the ability to reach out to each one of the audience members with their company’s story. As we watch and listen to a great speaker we feel drawn in, we feel included, and at times we may feel like the speaker is talking directly to us.

That’s the power of an engaging presenter and a good story. It takes work and dedication, it takes practice, but you will be rewarded by knowing that you have made a difference in the lives of your audience.

As a nonprofit, it’s easy to get caught up in the lingo, the goals, the business-speak. However, it’s important to realize that storytelling is a powerful way to build up a relationship with your audience and appeal to them on a deeper emotional level. Storytelling for nonprofits doesn’t mean just boasting about accomplishments (remember the over the shoulder networkers?). It means building a connection, finding something that the audience can relate to, can visualize and even imagine themselves in. Remember storytelling, not story ego.

What is the universal emotion you are sharing?

When you are considering what story you’d like to share from your business, think about the emotion that it evokes. It is love, fear, courage, anger, frustration?

Even though it’s your nonprofit’s story, everyone in the audience has experienced that same universal emotion. If you are able to tell the story in a way that taps into the sensory areas of their brain, they will connect and relate to that story from their own perspective. That is good storytelling for nonprofits.

You know you have done a good job as a storyteller when an audience member approaches you to tell you their story. Not to tell you how good yours is!

Share stories with universal human emotion. If you tell the story in a way that taps into their senses they may well be thinking –  yes I get that, I’ve been there, I’ve felt that way too.

The story we don’t want to hear

There are some speakers around who are only interested in telling the audience how qualified and experienced they are (ever heard those bios that take two minutes for the MC to read?) or tell us all about their products.

The speaker who is more concerned about their ego that their audience will not be able to connect. Listeners will switch off if a speaker comes across as inauthentic.

If your speech is mainly about you or your company, don’t expect to make a difference to others. Your speech needs to be about your listeners and how you can help them. Aim to be present in their world and ensure your material is relevant to them.

Your audience is the most important factor in your story. Get into their world and ensure the message is relevant to them.

As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.