Luvvie on Storytelling

At the Freshwater Alliance we’ve been talking about telling good stories since our inception. We have also witnessed (and continue to acknowledge) that we are uncomfortable putting ourselves as the focal point of these stories. This week, I have the great privilege to be at the Non-Profit Technology Conference in New Orleans (#18NTC), and will be attempting to blog throughout the conference so that all of you can be here with me -- or at least share in the tips, tools and tech that I’ll be picking up along the way!

Luvvie Ajayi kicked off the conference driving home the importance of storytelling. Her talk explore the very personal journey of how she went from “I wasn’t a writer...I wanted to quit” to becoming a New York Times best selling author. But what I want to share with you all today are the 5 tips she shared with us on how to be a better storyteller! By telling stories of your experiences as a water defender, you bring your following along for the journey. When you win, they feel like they’ve won alongside you!

    1. Be Interesting. Ok as a self-prescribed bore, I find this one hard. I’m not really that interesting. But the reality is we, as water champions, do interesting things. I get to go to interesting places in the world (heck I’m in New Orleans now). I get to meet interesting people. I get to hear fantastic things that people are doing every day to defend the health of our waters, to innovate, to build movements for health and justice. My life is actually interesting (thanks to all of you who help make it so). Explore and share the interesting things you do, the amazing people you meet, and the fantastic places you go - which I know will inevitably include rivers, lakes and streams!
    2. Share what makes you laugh. I know it’s cliché but it is so true - laughter really is the best medicine. Sharing what makes you laugh, will make other people laugh alongside you. And that’s powerful. It doesn’t always have to be about your cause. In fact, let’s show ourselves and our movements as integrated with the world around us. Yes, what we do is serious work, but let’s take those moments and show our lighter side!
    3. Share the small moments. Yes we are talking about and focused on BIG issues but it’s the small moments that allow us to connect with people, sometimes on trivial things - like the case that Luvvie shared today on the colour of starbursts (you’d share the yellow ones right? Unless it was someone you really liked...then you might consider giving up a pink one).  
    4. Share the tough moments. And there are tough moments. Those days that you are too tired to respond to the 100 new emails. Or when you leave a meeting with a city official, developer or parliamentarian and you just want to scream. Or when you got lured into that Facebook debate that were adamant you were never going to engage in again. We all have tough days and sharing those days with our followers allows us to connect with them in real and meaningful ways.
    5. Share the big moments. And then….there are those days when greatness happens. When you get a policy win. When a monitoring report comes back showing a marked improvement on water quality. When you’ve won a hard fought campaign. When you share these big moments after doing 1-4 above, it actually means more. Your followers have been on a journey with you and when you win, they actually feel like they’ve won too.   

This leads to one of the strongest messages for me in Luvvie’s address: “The power of community can drive you forward.” Every day we are building a community. With every communication we are connecting with followers. And when you win and they celebrate with you, you will experience a power beyond your expectations.  This is also true for when you have those tough days or worse yet, when we experience the loses. You give so much to your community that it’s ok to ask them to help.

Good storytelling will, as Luvvie concluded, humanize you, humanize your work and humanize your cause.


Awesomely Luvvie Blog:

New York Times Best selling “I’m Judging You, the do-better manual”.