Seven Secrets of Soulful, Selfless Storytelling

1. Be concrete.


You’re conveying a world and a worldview: Let people see it come to life.

Examples, actions and anecdotes make ideas memorable.

2. Know your audience. But know yourself, too.


Your approach, choice of examples, and even format will vary with your audience. But this is a matter of emphasis and tactics. Even as you make choices to suit audiences, stay true to your core principles as an organization and key values as a storyteller. If a particular audience forces you to stray from those values, it’s not your audience. Know who you are, and be more of it.

3. Identify trends.


How do the things that you care about cross swords with the Zeitgeist? How can you speak from the heart about the great, transformative “now”?

4. Be Selfless


Storytelling is the art of helping others see what you see. Be helpful.

Define your terms, both for yourself and your audience. Invite readers to think along with you. This “co-thinking” creates an alliance between communicator and audience.

5. Be curious about yourself.

Mirrors on Pushkinskaya Ulitsa

Think carefully and critically about who you are, what your principles are, and why you want to tell a story. If you don’t know why you want to say something, it will be hard to refine what you want to say, define whom you want to say it to, or decide when you want to say it. When you think about yourself, be open to surprising thoughts.

6. Climb the narrative tower.


Many rich stories are built on a simple but sturdy foundation:

Person X strives for Y, discovering something about Z. Always return to the character, the quest, and the lessons, however subtle, of that quest.

7. Continue the conversation.


Once you’ve told a good story, tell more. Once you’ve explored a deep idea, dig deeper. Look intently at your world, listen closely, think, learn—and speak anew.

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