Op-Ed: Want to connect with hearts and minds? Use storytelling

Op-Ed: Want to connect with hearts and minds? Use storytelling
Royann Dean.

By Royann Dean

Even if you aren’t a storyteller, there’s no denying how captivating and fascinating storytelling is. We cannot always remember details of stories but very often we remember the meaning and the message. We use our imaginations to visualize the story at the same time we use logic to follow the details. This combination allows us to create meaning in a way that we can better individually connect with the message. This is why stories work. Storytelling is known for its cultural significance but in business communication, it is a critical part of how brands make emotional connections with their audience through written, verbal and visual messaging.

A few years ago, the secretariat from the Office of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas needed to share complex information from a state of the nation report. The report was part of Vision 2040 Bahamas — the National Development Plan (NDP) for the country. The NDP is a non-partisan strategy to guide the development of The Bahamas over the next 25 years around four pillars — human capital, the natural and built environment, the economy and governance. We chose to communicate the information using storytelling for one main reason — it is a powerful way to communicate in a compelling way.


Making complex facts relatable and relevant

The findings in the report were complex, sobering and, at times, hard to digest. The challenge was conveying this information in a way that would easily connect with a mass audience, include a call to action and change paradigms about societal norms.

What was needed was an understanding of the primary audience and the purpose of the deliverable in order to create the right product and get the desired outcome. The solution was storytelling with a whiteboard video. Whiteboard videos are a great way to make complex information easy to understand. The story was based around a teenage hero character that was relatable to a broad cross section of the audience. Complex issues were introduced in an authentic voice from the hero’s perspective. This was especially important to build trust with younger audiences.


Adding meaning and driving change

Stories are powerful tools. They give meaning without defining, allowing the viewer to make sense of things in the most meaningful way. In this case, using a narrative allowed viewers to understand how things that they may not ever have thought about — cultural values, climate change, increasing national debt and weak governance — greatly affect their daily lives.

The video was well received at the launch ceremony for the NDP. The hope is that everyone who watches it, from school children watching TV with their families to the delegates at international conferences, will feel the change that this powerful story can bring.

Royann Dean is the managing director of ONWRD Advisors, a digital solutions, communications and design agency in Nassau. Find out more at www.onwrdtogether.com. Follow her on LinkedIn @RoyannDean.