How can organizations tell their stories better? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I began my career as a speechwriter at the United Nations, and as a ghostwriter for politicians and business leaders in the U.S. and Europe. Those roles forced me to figure out how to quickly get to the core of the most compelling pieces of a story and then bring it to life in words. Over the past decade, I’ve applied that skillset for a range of organizations as the CEO of Miller Ink, a strategic communications and crisis communications agency headquartered in Los Angeles. Our team uses two formulations to empower organizations to tell their stories better: the three C’s, which help you craft a strong message, and the three S’s, which represent the three major tools you have at your disposal to bring a message to life.
Let’s start with the three Cs. A great message is clear, concise, and compelling.
Clarity is the first goal of communication. Just because something is clear in your mind doesn’t mean that it will be clear in the mind of your target audience. Make sure that your message can be understood. That means removing jargon that the audience might not know and clearing up ambiguities in your language and sentence structure.
At the same time, your message should be as concise as possible. People have short – and shrinking – attention spans. Extra words that don’t make your message clearer or more compelling should be cut.
Finally, make your message compelling and memorable. Being boring is the greatest sin in storytelling.
To make a message fly off the page, we rely on the three S’s: stories, statistics, and sound bytes.
Since long before prehistoric man painted on cave walls, humans have been hard wired to relate to stories. They help us to step into others’ shoes and imagine how they may feel. They allow the storyteller to show, and not just tell their point of view. Great communicators find the most emotionally resonant, interesting, funny, and dynamic stories that support the core truth in their message.
Statistics are another great tool for effective storytelling. Data gives your message substantiation and makes the audience believe it is true. However, it is not enough to simply share data. Find ways to bring it to life so that it is relatable and easily understood by your audience. For example, don’t just say “this innovation will reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent.” Say “this innovation will take the equivalent of 20,000 cars off the road
The third “S” refers to soundbytes, which are clever uses of language to make a message memorable. Soundbites draw on a range of techniques to capture an audience’s attention – from humor and rhyme to analogies and hyperbole. A great soundbite sticks in your head and will not be quickly forgotten.