The best way to convey a message is through memorable storytelling.
At the Nonprofit Storytelling Seminar in June, Blueforest’s very own Ammon Ehrisman taught the essentials of every memorable story.
After welcoming many people of various nonprofit organizations, Kimberly Corrigan opened the seminar by introducing herself and Blueforest Studios. Ammon followed suit and had everyone introduce themselves, briefly explain what they do, and what kind of message they wanted to convey using the tools the seminar would give them. To get into the creative mindset, everyone read a paragraph from a legal document and then watched a few short video clips including the story of The Good Samaritan as told by children and a commercial by Southwest Airlines.
While the attendees were preoccupied watching the videos, Ammon drew a picture of the brain to show what parts were used in reacting to the document and the videos and committing them to memory. He illustrated how only a few select portions of the brain lit up when reading the legal document compared to when watching the video clips. Ammon explained that audiences are able to form a memory when more parts of the brain are activated, in this case, during the videos which conveyed a clear message and story, but not the legal document because it lacked a story and contained perplexing vocabulary.
The objective of the seminar became to find the essential elements of a memorable story. After a round of excellent answers, everyone narrowed the key essentials down to the character(s), their values, and a threat to those values. In the story of The Good Samaritan, the main character is ambushed and beaten by bandits while traveling. Travelers of his own religion pass by him and do not help him, but the Samaritan, someone from another religion helps him and takes care of him. Despite the threat to his own values, the Samaritan helped the beaten man.
To practice, Ammon lets everyone choose one of their own messages which they could apply the storytelling elements. One woman, from White Memorial church, wanted to convey a message for her stewardship campaign, called “A Time to Discern.” Another person told their story of how they were inspired to donate to their church because one of their friends is wealthy yet is always the first to volunteer, host fundraisers in their own home, and serve their church. The woman from White Memorial Church thought it was a great example and said she would try to find a similar instance in her own church.
Ammon concluded the seminar by sharing his own personal story of how he became a director even though he was discouraged to go into the field as a young man. Walking away from the seminar, everyone gained a valuable understanding of crafting an engaging and memorable story.