best practices

Why are you missing in your own story?

How about this year we all commit to owning our awesomeness in our stories?
I just read a mediocre story on a respected nonprofit’s site. A story that had so much potential but then skipped the best part. Since I don’t name names, here is a generic sum up:

Line 1: In the present. Happy parents hold heir new baby boy.
Lines 2 and 3: Flashback: Just a year ago, things looked dire. Short list of unfortunate events explaining why situation is bad.
Line 4:  Advocacy Organization “provides support to secure housing.” (A statement that is neither visual nor romantic. Sounds like messaging. And by the way, how did the family hook up with Advocacy Organization in the first place?)
Finale: Mother says, “Once we met Advocacy Organization we knew we would be ok.”
The end.

Gaaaaah. WHERE IS THE GOOD STUFF?  What did the organization do? What does “provides support” look like? What is the secret sauce?! How did the organization take this family from living on the street to having a cozy home with teddy bears all over the place? Something uplifting happened—show me the montage!!!

Don’t confuse being humble with being invisible.
I’ve talked about why you should never skip over the good part of the story, which is when you, the advocate, step in. Your contribution is what the donor needs to see. Don’t gloss over it. And avoid jargon. Pro tip: the word “provide” is a gateway to jargontown.

The audience needs to understand why you’re awesome.
You don’t have to make it all about you—make it about what your protagonist (client, donor, volunteer, or whoever is the main character) did with your contribution to her situation. But if your audience can’t see (and I mean visualize an image in their minds) the unique help you offered, then you skipped the most important part.

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