Business Storytelling For Dummies
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Infographics designed as a story or that use many story elements can be quite helpful for your business. So are stories created from a series of photos or images — much like what’s on SlideShare or in a photo collage. These media let your imagination and creativity soar.

Technology such as Stipple allows you to take a photo and add text to it to transform it into a story. As you hover over a portion of a photo, the text is displayed. This can be lots of fun and fairly cheap to do. You can shorten the story down to the size of a Twitter post —140 characters — or break your narrative down into several pop-ups per image.

You can also take several images to which you’ve added text and link them together for a more complete story to post on your website or blog. This isn’t an easy task to do and still keep a story arc and all the elements that make a story a story.

Vuvox lets you put photos together in a photo collage and add text. On Glogster, you can put together a poster that tells a story.

When you put a story into a poster or photo collage, it may become a representation of it instead of an effective way to tell it. In essence, you’ve turned the story into a type of story trigger.

This happens when the skeleton of a story is presented through a series of images and short texts. In this case, people may need to know some parts of the story first before they can gain meaning from a poster or a photo collage.

  • Audience experience: Consumption is second-hand, resulting in a passive experience. Direct feedback is lost beyond social media responses when the item is provided electronically. When housed in printed material, people may pass it along and comment on websites, if they have access. When seen as an original piece of work, they may take a photo of it and share it through social media.

  • Availability of connection: The distance between viewers and the teller increases because the connection is to the visual representation of the story or the medium it which it’s shared, not the creator. In many ways, co-creation is lost, and there’s less opportunity for a direct human connection. Viewers decide whether to consume the story.

  • Richness of channel: Because posters, infographics, photomontages, and collages are visual stories, this medium can be a rich communication channel when combined with text. There’s the opportunity to use lots of LOTS, along with colorful images and creative designs.

  • Flexibility of the medium: Digital formats are easier to change than printed ones, so the flexibility of this media is variable. If any part of the piece is hand-crafted, then it becomes more static because changes may require pieces to be reworked. If there’s a need to move the piece into a printed product, expenses in reproduction and dissemination increase dramatically.

  • Audience recall: Posters, infographics, photomontages, and collages can be great mediums for a story but can be tricky.

    Audience recall could be comprised if the context of an item isn’t deliberately woven into the piece to bring it meaning or if viewers don’t have insider knowledge about the story being referenced. If the desire is for people to both share the piece and re-tell the story, they need to be packaged together.

  • Scale of delivery: The Internet could be a powerful vehicle for sharing stories of this kind. There’s a huge opportunity for reaching countless people, if you can get them to consume the piece. If using the Internet isn’t a good option, then the resources available for printing the work will determine the scope of dissemination.

  • The ability to stimulate change: Welcome to unchartered territory. Delivered to the right audience, in the right context, with a clear message, stories told in this way could be powerful. Although there are plenty of opportunities to be creative and experiment, it’s unclear if these media will stimulate change.

    Posters have been successfully used in resistance movements, though they’re used more as triggers to activate a story inside the viewers’ minds. In addition to sharing or sparking a really good story, for change to really happen, public participation needs to be added to the equation.

    Having people participate in the actual creation of the piece — or contribute their own creations — activates individuals and/or communities to become “catalysts for change.” Participation becomes an act of self-expression, empowering people to share voices and stories with one another about an issue in which they have a personal stake.

  • Impact opportunity: The degree of impact could be large if the story is exceptionally well crafted. TERA will always be compromised if there’s lack of direct interaction with the creator of the piece. In addition, limited resources, not connecting with target markets, lack of viewer participation, and the variable flexibility of the medium to address the immediate need can also affect outcomes.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Karen Dietz, PhD, is a 25-year veteran in business storytelling consulting, training, and leadership, and organizational development. Lori L. Silverman offers business storytelling training, keynotes, and consulting. For 26 years, she's advised enterprises on strategic planning and organizational change.

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