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  • Writer's pictureDevdarshan Chakrabortyy

Stop telling your stories…let them tell it for you

- Few thoughts on video storytelling

All around us, there are examples of video storytelling by major corporations. YouTube channels and digital assets are platforms where everyone is talking about their achievements in sustainability and CSR initiatives. Skillfully put together, these 2-3-minute capsules make for highly engrossing viewing. But are they all effective in being heard and remembered as strategic storytelling must be?

Results from effective storytelling can heavily depend on how well one has researched the audiences. At a bare minimum, it includes those for whom it is being crafted and those who will tell your story.

The first set of audiences are the ones who are well mapped by organizations when messages and stories are being planned for resonance and relevance. They are usually the ‘decision makers’ and policy influencers in an advocacy campaign.

The second set of audiences are the communities or the beneficiaries who have been touched by an organization’s work on a social or development agenda. If they talk about how their lives have been touched, your story will ring true…make sure its more candid than ‘scripts’ care to consider.

For all practical purposes researching this second set of audiences deeply is often overlooked. Much is taken for granted resulting in script led storytelling. Vignettes and voice overs can present a sanitized narrative but often fail to ring true, consequently missing the primary objective of being heard by the decision makers.

Hence, getting the process right is paramount. It’s about getting your team to build stories from ground up. Data is a good starting point but it must be good enough only for deciding the topics and of course a powerful summary of impact after the actual story has been told. Here are 3 key things to keep in mind while planning your stories…

  • Be prepared to spend time on-the-ground interviewing the communities for insights – take on board both adulation and criticism of the work you have done so far while planning your narrative.

  • Unearth how the changes have touched lives and the tenor in which people are willing to talk about it. Collages of happy faces or a dramatic film-like approach with a screen play and professional actors can fail to ring true.

  • Ensure your script follows the findings of the community research and is only to set the context…let the people do the storytelling for you.

Here are two examples of storytelling. Would love to know which one you like better from a credibility perspective…

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