3 steps to strategic story telling

3 steps to strategic storytelling

Stories convey more than information; they share emotions.

March 19, 2018

Want members to remember your credit union? Tell them a story, advises Kindra Hall, author, communications expert, and “professional story teller.”

That’s because people are naturally attracted to stories, they’re memorable, and hearing them causes chemical changes in our brains that improve our focus and heighten our empathy, she says.

“The story telling process is a co-creative one,” Hall says. “I tell you my story, you create your own version in your mind, and we come to a shared space where it’s now ‘our’ story.”

The problem is, too often we don’t tell stories when the stakes are highest. Or we share information we think are stories, but it’s actually a tagline or a vague, high-level principle such as “we go above and beyond for our members.”

A story happens in a particular moment, Hall says, with a beginning, middle, and end. “There are emotions, not just information. There are characters we care about and something at stake. People want to do business with people, not businesses.”

There are three parts to the story telling process:

1. Find the stories. Make a list of your values, services, and promises, and when you saw those being demonstrated.

“Our stories attach themselves to the nouns in our life: people, places, things, and events,” she says. “Focus on the nouns with your stories.”

2. Craft the stories. Start with the normal, then the “explosion”—the event that happens, and then the new normal, Hall says.

“We usually start with the explosion,” she says. “Where stories go wrong is when we skip the first part. We want people to think, ‘that sounds liked me,’ so when the explosion hits they can say, ‘that could be me.’”

When crafting a story, consider the audience, set the scene with people and place, be specific and vivid, and include emotions: the struggle and the hope.

3. Tell the story. Tell your stories on your website, via social media and email, and in conversations with members.

“Stories beget stories,” Hall says. “If you give a little story, members will respond with a story. Anytime you give a presentation, start with a story to engage your audience.

“You as marketers are story-seekers,” she continues. “You already have the marketing ammunition you need because you have your stories.”

Hall addressed the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference in San Francisco.

Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNACraig, @cumagazine, @CUNACouncils, and by using the #MBDCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at