Five practical tips to help you tell your stories well
1. Keep a journal or file of story ideas. When you happen upon a story that makes an impact on you personally, don’t lose it! Keep your “good idea” file handy and refresh it often. And remember that sometimes stories need to be prompted by interviewing staff members who are reluctant to come across as tooting their own horn.
2. Own your story. Ideally, your spokesperson will share personal experiences that illustrate the impact of your mission. Your stories are particularly effective when they reveal the direct experiences of the writer or speaker.
3. Use real quotes from real people who are part of the story. Their words will add interesting details and affirm credibility.
4. Pay special attention to verbs and use words that convey action. For example, compare “Emily felt sad” to “Emily’s eyes filled with tears before she answered.” The latter choice of words lets the reader or listener visualize Emily’s pain and draw his or her own conclusion that Emily is sad. If you merely say, “Emily felt sad,” you’re essentially asking the reader to take your word for it. It’s much more effective to use words that paint a picture and make the point for you.
5. Find your hook. Something in your story is ideal for your opening line. It’s there, perhaps hiding towards the end of your first draft. Find it, and move it to the top.