Want To Be A Story Teller? Make diversity your goal, not videos.

Thousands of years ago, storytelling was a passageway into humanity; the craft of making images appear in the mind of your audience gathered around a fire was practically magic. Then, technology hurdled into the scene and, by and large, we became lackluster storytellers, dependent on technology to tell the story in our place. Then, technology evolved and grew up into films, we learned how to balance moving images, soundscape, lighting, and a script –storytelling as an art was back! Then, we settled into a new routine and decided that every story must “be a video,” dependent once again on the tool to automate our stories for us.

General as that may be, many communicators, church planters, and creatives find ourselves living in some form of that cycle every week or month. Naturally, the cycle is accompanied by a great many thinkers and tinkerers, too, with real life opinions and understandable “wins” needing to be achieved. However, storytelling too often becomes synonymous with making a video and the real story gets lost in expectations and money (or lack thereof).

What’s The Goal Again?

The goal of any storyteller is to tell a story. At its core, that’s her goal. And just like any great story: the storyteller should not rely on a single angle –a single medium– but instead, we would be wise to make diversity our goal.

Here’s a few examples of the diverse and various storytelling mediums you probably never knew you had at your disposal.

Live On Stage

Quite honestly, there’s almost nothing that competes with an incredible story being unfolded and made right in front of your eyes. The best stories usually translate well onto film, but they don’t need to. Some people’s stories need to be flown in the space of an auditorium: don’t limit them to a screen.

Perhaps you’re telling your own story, or you’re even re-telling someone else’s story: this is completely acceptable and it affords you the opportunity to invite your audience to grow in the habit of listening to and sharing great stories.

If you’re unsure if you or the subject can pull this off: try anyway! Ask for feedback, receive the feedback, practice your craft, and keep working it in to the mix. I have found my success with telling stories on stages of all sizes makes me not just a better communicator, but a more creative film producer and director, too.

Conversation à la Interview

Two people on stage have a way of pushing energy into an audience. It could be the case that there’s a story in your community just waiting to be told in this medium: full of energy, questions, and live interaction. Don’t hesitate to use this as a completely viable option for telling a story.

In fact, with the right Interviewer at the helm, conversation style storytelling will always move your audience forward through an experience. Consider what most every talk show is built on: the monologue (for a few minutes) and interviews (for all the other minutes).

Preparation is vital and requires a bit more logistics, but the experiential payoff can be massive. Additionally, this particular medium can be extremely budget-friendly. Grab some soft seating, buy your lighting engineer a Red Bull, and you will have added a subtle, but effective dimension to your space.

Written Story

Some folks are not comfortable in front of a camera or on stage –fear not, ask them to write their story out. It’s still a story! How you share or reveal the story can still be creative, too.

Maybe you print it off for your audience? Maybe you extract the words and make them part of your stage design? Maybe you have the lines of the story fade in, one line at a time, into your presentation, giving space for your people to feel the weight of the written word?

Moving your story into this realm allows you the freedom to play with the visual representation of the story: font, line spacing, kerning, formatting, print, etc. Too many people today are forgetting how powerful this particular medium really is –reclaim it.

Voiceover

If you are or your team is capable of creating b-roll sequences or animations, you may want to produce some Voiceover stories. These can be especially effective if the script lends itself to an auditory experience or if you’re short on time –not that that ever happens to anyone else…

Voiceovers –a video sans subject– are also a powerful way to isolate the cadence of a story: which could be awkward in a fully produced video, and not possible on stage at all. The narrator could be your primary subject, or much like the Written Story, you could have someone else read, or perform, the voiceover.

Spoken Word or Slam Poetry

Every once in a while you will find a story and a storyteller that lend themselves to a collaborative effort in the form of a Spoken Word piece. Cash that in! Resist the urge to put it on film where it becomes flat: use the space and the volume and the enunciation as part of the story, itself.

This form of storytelling doesn’t preclude you from using lighting, graphics, or other creative elements, either. Yes, it is artistic and yes, it requires the same level of skill required to produce a compelling video, but it is an alternative that you should keep in your back pocket. Keep a list of folks who you meet who can actually perform a Spoken Word and when the stars align, make the ask. You’ll be glad you did.


So, the next time you hear a great story, don’t default to “That would make a great video,” but let it breathe for a bit as you consider other ways of telling it.

Or, the next time your Pastor/Director/Friend asks you to make a video of a story, float a few of these ideas to the surface and see if the Story would actually be better represented by a different medium.

Storytelling is an incredible art, let’s not limit it to only one form.