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best practices

Story and history are not the same (for my lawyer friends)

A friend of mine, a county prosecutor, invited me to do a presentation with him about storytelling to an audience of attorneys. I learned a lot about the attorney frame of mind from him as we prepared. My big takeaway was that while they can be more skeptical than my usual nonprofit audiences, many attorneys face the same challenge—that good ol’, “I gotta tell ’em everything right from the beginning or they won’t get it!” myth. Comprehensive = Cluttered Telling…

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brand stories persuasion

Snickers, Samhain, and your holiday stories

Snickers bar broken in half

Is free stuff ever free? Snickers announced it would give away one million fun-size bars in time for Halloween via OneMillionSnickers.com. Part of the stunt includes a Change.org petition from 2018 requesting that the government move the date of Halloween. It’s now about adding a second Halloween—a full trick-or-treat day for “self-expression.” All of this seemed weird to me because of Samhain (I’ll explain) but then again, companies often separate marketing narratives from the nuances of history. Story and history are not…

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Storytelling skills and workshops for professionals

Hi, I’m Lisa Kagan, and I’d like to be your storytelling coach. I’ve helped leaders like you tell better stories to inspire teams to rally, donors to give, and advocates to speak up. I can help you: Train your team or board in refreshing, interactive workshops Curate and craft stories on brand that embody your mission Invigorate your speeches, pitches and, presentations to feel right coming out of your mouth Position data as allies, not crutches or burdens Make irresistible asks…

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best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Want a raise? Tell the right kind of story.

Consider the homing pigeon, Cher Ami, who took a few bullets, losing her foot and eye during World War I, but still delivered her message, saving a group of American infantrymen in danger. Cher Ami was a hero, especially among the 77th Infantry Division. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and later went on to open a tap dancing school for aviary fanciers who also had a single wooden leg. I made up the part about the tap dancing, but the rest…

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brand stories data stories

Keep your story outside the box

This ad is a good example of an organization showing how it can change your life without ever talking about the mechanics of what it does. Please watch this story and then go through the reflections below. What is in your organization’s box? 23andMe is a saliva collection kit (can you feel the romance?). You never hear those words in the commercial. While 23andMe has a very real box for its customers, your organization may have a figurative box. Either way, you need to know…

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best practices character selection self-advocacy

Don’t make a long story too short

Board trainings are the best. One day, a buttoned up guy with a fabulous head of silver hair—we’ll call him Peter—moved himself to tears. He sat in a windowless conference room surrounded by a dozen fellow board members he had just met. Peter told us a story about a teenage hooligan, Jimmy, falling through the cracks. A very special nun, Sister Bea, went to bat for Jimmy and got him a gig as an orderly. As Peter spoke about Jimmy’s struggles and Sister Bea’s compassion he choked…

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Storytelling skills and workshops for professionals and advocates

Hi. I would like to be your storytelling coach. Story de/re/constructing is my favorite thing to do. Professionally, I have a research and policy planning background and love coaching professionals to be persuasive. Personally, I come from a long line of storytellers and performers. This blog combines those worlds. It’s my pack of storytelling tips and tricks and you’re welcome to them. Poke around. Find something. Leave something. Advocating for your work  and telling your story can feel like an…

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brand stories data stories

Everything Isn’t a Story and That’s OK

Have you noticed that the word “story” has become a buzzword? Every few days, I hear someone use the word “story” when he or she is actually describing something else. Stories have their own requirements, benefits, and effects, which are not better or worse than other mechanisms. But to share something other than a story, you need different components. You also get different results. Story is just one way to structure content First, let’s look at the classic—the story. A…

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