Three questions every story collector needs to ask

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By Leanne Clare

microphoneEmbarking on a storytelling project is an exciting thing – at least it is for me. I love watching someone tell me a story, and I love hearing or reading what they are telling me. But it is also a huge responsibility because people share a piece of themselves with every story they tell.

In my experience as a former journalist, rooted within every story is information about what motivates the teller, and that is usually the most interesting part of almost any story.

Anyone with experience working in an organization focused on social change can tell you that it is very difficult to get people to change their behaviour if you don’t understand what motivates them to act.

That is why storytelling can be so powerful and why organizations seeking social change MUST become better at learning from the stories they collect.

Organizations need to carefully consider three things before they begin collecting stories:


#1 – Who are you collecting stories from?

Determine your audience. Not just who you will collect stories from but also who will read them. Understanding your audience and the kinds of stories they can tell, and will want to read is critical.


#2 – Why are you collecting the stories?

What is motivating you to collect the stories? This will help you determine the kinds of stories you will collect, and leads you to:


#3 – What do you want to learn from the stories?

What is it you want to learn from the person sharing their story? I would argue that this is really the fundamental question organizations asking people to share their stories needs to be very clear upon, in fact, it leads you back to refining the first two questions.

Once you are very clear on the answer to these questions, you can continue to design your storytelling project. It will be easier to determine the tools and tactics you will need to employ to reach your target audience, collect the stories you want and learn the information you need to improve your programming as well as develop stronger relationships with your members and users.