7 Tips to Tell Better Stories

3 Jun

Some tips to improve your storytelling abilities when communicating to a general audience about your discoveries

In this quick guide, I provide some tips to improve your storytelling abilities when communicating to a general audience about your discoveries, without making them boring but also passing on credibility. The format used here as an example is based on a written article, but it can be easily adapted to video production.

Headline: Keep it short: 5-6 words. It should get my attention and tell me the big idea.

Lead: You’ve got two or three sentences here to give the focus of the story in a nutshell and make me want more.

Writing a lead: What’s so important about a lead? Well, the first few sentences of your story do most of the work: they ‘hook’ the reader and act as a roadmap for everything that follows.

Formulating a good lead is the hardest part of writing. But if you pull it off, it will protect you from getting distracted and focus your story.

Creative or descriptive leads are great for magazines and features. Entertain or tease the reader, then tell them what the story is about.

Anecdotal: Start small with a slice of a story that gives me some specific insight into the bigger picture.

Scene-setting: Describes the physical location where a story takes place. This might be difficult to do well because including superfluous or irrelevant details feels amateur and will annoy the reader, but a good scene description should intrigue and set the stage.

Zinger: Shocking, funny, or weird leads are great for grabbing attention. But be sure to follow them up with evidence and facts.

Question: Leading with a question is sometimes an effective way to spark a conversation. But for the most part, readers don’t want to be asked questions – they want answers.

Lead with emotion: the human element – tears, struggles, drama –keeps the reader’s interest and drives the story. Feature stories need feelings.

Use data with caution: numbers convince people. Find experts: get people who know the most about your subject to weigh in.

Be multimedia: get everything you can: pictures, audio, video. Think about how to tell your story both in print and on social media.

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