Real Stories: Storytelling Coaching Community

Real Stories: Storytelling Coaching Community

August 1, 2011 by

When young journalists first begin chasing unfolding news headlines, they often expect to be drowning in hundreds of good stories by the end of each day. After all, it’s a big, important world. There should be a story around every corner.

Unfortunately though, even in a profession devoted to chasing good stories, finding a tale that penetrates expected human routines is like finding one lone endangered animal wandering in the Sahara.

Things that seemed so important—jet setting from country to country, experiencing the things people only experience by watching TV—start to take on a certain predictable monotony. So even when you land in the middle of the action, and you and the rest of the crew crammed into a rusted out Eurovan taxi with no air conditioning, it can be easy to get lost in the blur.

After a while on the circuit, you start to feel like if you’ve seen one foreign country, you’ve seen every country—whether you’ve been there or not. They have similar aesthetic flavors, there’s the language barrier, you’re not able to find your baring. As a result, journalists like me sometimes walk away feeling like they’ve had this experience before. And you realize travel and storytelling is only glamourous when you come home.

But every once in a while, a real story emerges that cuts through the press conference norms and connects humans to each other.

A Real Story
During an assignment in Belfast, Ireland, early in my career I was locked into routine coverage of Good Friday Peace Treaty Talks.

I was in the process of setting up for an interview with the crew, when I witnessed something that would change the way I approach my work. In the corner of this dimly lit pub in Northern Ireland sat British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Republic of Ireland’s leader, Bertie Ahern, laughing while their bodyguards and entourages looked on. For these two men this event, this story, wasn’t about a political move but rather a story of connecting as humans; something the world news outlets missed.

I realized that day a simple truth about humans: A story is the shortest distance between two people.

The people who are remembered in life are the people who pull you into a story. Story captures emotion, holds your attention and brings you to action. We act like story is dead, that story is for those family nights spent by the fire. The reality is stories are no longer just for campfires. People are saturated with information no matter where they turn—from newspapers to mobile phones. More is not what the audience wants. We’ve been buried in the mind-numbing avalanche of today’s information. What matters is a story making sense of the endless stream of data. Allowing people to think through stories either visually or emotionally keeps an audience interested.

By telling stories that are interesting, important, unique, relevant and worth spreading, you allow people to feel something and have a sense of belonging with the information, in turn making them contributors to the story and allowing them to make a significant impact on how they act. Telling stories allows you to go beyond words on a page. We can use media to create an experience and visual tapestry; we can leverage text, images, audio and video in a variety of channels and formats. As a result, we have the opportunity to tell stories that are rich and engaging and experiential.

How are you telling your stories?

Storytelling Coaching Community
This fall, I’ve created an opportunity for storytellers of all ages and experience levels to join me in The Storytelling Coaching Community, which is a gathering of no more than 10 creative professionals or creative ministry leaders who will meet for six months to elevate their photography and video as a storytelling medium, be encouraged, challenged, and coached on visual storytelling and their specific leadership challenges.

Photo by Smabs Sputzer
Post By:

Matt Knisely

Matt Knisely is a photographer, visual storyteller and author. He works as the marketing manager for Active Network Faith Division and the principal of Good World Creative.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

Comments are closed.