Simple Tips for Telling Your Story

The issue you deal with is complex, and your organization has useful content. You’re not selling a product, you’re trying to shape the future through action.

It seems that the best way to get people interested in what you do is to educate them. And to educate them, you want to help them understand everything. After all, you’re the expert. In PR, we call this the “professorial approach,” when lecturing and providing as much detail as possible seem like the best way to go. We see NGO’s, associations or nonprofits take this approach a lot.

Many times, though, the professorial approach just leaves audiences disengaged, and their main takeaway is something completely different from what organizations intended it to be.

So, when communicating your organization to others, here are some simple tips that I like to give my clients.  You may have heard some of these before, but I found that these help non-PR pros filter through the information, pique the interest of others and helps them focus on the big picture.

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1. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party. When people ask what you do and why, how do you respond? You’ll realize that your casual and simplified approach to this answer works well beyond the party and into a meeting or presentation.


2. Answer the “What’s in it for me?question. If you’re presenting your organization to a potential partner or donor, don’t just talk about the issue at hand. What happens to them personally if they don't support you? What happens to them personally if they do? Remember, every relationship must be mutually beneficial and relatable. 

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3. Check yourself. Read your marketing material aloud, or record yourself speaking about your organization. Do you sound excited about the material? If not, adjust and edit until you can hear the passion you have for what you do.


4. Imagine someone famous reading your marketing material. This tip is similar to #3 in the sense that it’s important to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. If the first voice that comes to mind is Ben Stein, that could be a problem (no offense, Ben). But if you imagine an eloquent yet captivating speaker, then you know you’re on the right track. 


5. Use anecdotes. This is the golden rule when it comes to marketing and PR, but it isn’t always practiced. Remember that people are more likely to remember a lesson from Aesop’s fables than memorize all 10 Commandments. Rather than communicate everything you do, you can simply tell a story and people will grasp your overarching message easily. A colleague of mine used to always preach “Start by telling me why your organization exists, not what your organization is.” I couldn’t agree more.