Friday, July 21, 2017

The weekend read

I *was* going to be working in San Francisco this week, but a last-minute cancellation--which came as my plane arrived--had me cancelling and rescheduling the entire week. I just stayed in the airport and got on a later flight home. But the weekend can stay on schedule, communicators. Time to check out my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curated here for you:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by atgw)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tell it better: Storytelling to prompt donations and shift power

Many of my clients want to use storytelling to help raise funds from donors. When I'm working with a group to coach them in storytelling with talks in the style of TED conferences, I challenge them to craft talks without "selling from the stage," as is the custom at TED. That means no asking during the talk, but instead using the talk to tell a story that resonates with the prospective donor and prompts more conversation leading to a donation.

So I was intrigued by the research described in How to get the wealthy to donate, in which the researchers describe how their experiments failed to get wealthy people to donate when they stressed that the donation would achieve common goals for all. What? In fact, donors responded better when the story was about them:
When wealthier people — those with incomes higher than $90,000 — were greeted by the message that framed charitable giving as an opportunity for individual achievement, they were significantly more likely to click “Donate Today” than when they encountered the message that stressed common goals.
On the TED ideas blog, Citizen University CEO Eric Liu, writing on How to get power, talks about storytelling as a tool to change the power dynamic--and tells you how to move from the story about the donor to your need today. He shares storytelling lessons from community organizer Marshall Ganz as a formula:
Everywhere he goes, Ganz uses a method for organizing that centers on three nested narratives: the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now. He teaches organizers entering into any setting to start not with policy proposals or high concepts like justice but with biographies — their own, and those of the people they hope to mobilize. 
What are the stories you tell about yourself? Why do you tell them that way? How can we find connections across our stories of origin that build trust and common cause? That work then flows into the story of us: the collective narratives of challenge, choice and purpose that emerge from any community — that, in fact, help define it. This is how in a place like New Orleans after the flood or Detroit after the crash, residents can develop a shared identity of resilience and reinvention. It’s how anti–Common Core activists nationwide have been able to forge a cross-ideological crusade of parents and teachers tired of standardized-testing regimes that crush creativity and stifle liberty.

Once that shared narrative is activated, the organizer can connect it to the fierce urgency of now: a story about why this is the “movement moment,” when individual and collective motivations converge, and when action is needed and possible. Why this and no other time is the time for change. This is how “Yes We Can” became more than a slogan in 2008, as “Morning in America” did in 1980. Or “Make America Great Again” did in 2016.
Liu notes that the most crucial of the three is the "story of us," adding, "This is more than stepping into someone else’s shoes — it’s stepping into the story of how someone else came to be wearing those shoes." So you can have your story about "collective motivations," as long as you merge it with the motivations of the individual.

SUNY Oswego's Tim Nekritz reflects on this for university communicators, using his own experiences as an alumni donor: "As I prepare to send a check to one of my alma maters, thinking of the journey and how it helped along the way, I realize that the more challenges I faced and how much the school helped has really played into why I give." It's a good discussion of applying the hero's journey to this process. Just as in Who's the hero when storytelling your customer's journey?, in which it's not the product but the customer who needs to be the hero, your donor needs to be the hero when you're telling the story of a gift or donation, and the story needs to be their story.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Kathryn Harper)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The weekend read

See that hammock in the distance? It's a smart plan for the weekend. So are my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and don't get caught on Facebook, and curated here for you. Time to work, slowly, on getting smarter by Monday:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by smilla4)

Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A lookback at my month-long social media hiatus

I was waiting with another woman outside our club in Georgetown, each having summoned an Uber ride. But her phone had run out of juice before she could tell whether her request went through. "What should I do?" she asked. I looked up the street, saw the lights of available cabs, and said, "Just put your hand up." And indeed, a taxi pulled over faster than the Uber might have done.

That's a bit how taking a social media hiatus for a month feels: Simpler, without your usual tools, and sometimes more efficient.

I'd been skeptical of such absences from social media, having watched others do them. But the primary gains for me--time, and time to think, work, and write without distraction--were wonderful. The month felt like several months, voluminous, slow. And no, it wasn't a vacation. I worked right through it, but enjoyed the pause on social channels.

I should add here that, before the hiatus, I had prided myself on how little time I spent on social channels, getting the work part of my social publishing done quickly. That's not what eats your time, of course...it's scrolling through all the feeds and pages you've chosen to follow, and honestly, I wasn't even trying to do so. One thing I notice coming back from the break is Just. How. Much. Is. Out. There. I can believe there are tens of millions of Facebook pages, and I am not following all of them.

On my hiatus, I didn't post on any of my blogs; didn't tweet or post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or anything else; didn't check notifications; didn't share articles in my feeds. I limited my reading online to Feedly, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and listened to all my usual podcasts.

When I've taken shorter breaks before--as much as a week at a time--I have taken care to schedule posts, sometimes reruns of previous posts, during the hiatus. Not so this time. I took a complete break and so did my readers. This spared me doing an extra month's work in advance of the hiatus.

The hiatus meant that I had to change some things I had automated to make social media easier for me, like having certain sites come up immediately on separate tabs when I opened Chrome. During the hiatus, that would just be dangling bait in front of me. On my mobile, I moved apps to the back burner, rather than keeping them easy to find; if I were more addicted to my phone, I might have tried turning it grayscale to make the menu less appealing.

And I had to adjust how I got my news, going directly to news sites I wanted to check on, rather than letting Twitter or Facebook serve them up via my feeds and friends. (You're welcome, newspaper sites.) So it's not necessarily less work in that respect. But losing all the notification checks, posting moments, and more? That was priceless. If I change one big thing going forward, it will be to dramatically reduce the time I spend on notifications, and the total number of notifications I get.

I did miss the ability to tweet or Facebook my immediate reaction to something outrageous, or to share a valuable article, but holding back let me contemplate whether the world really lost anything there. (Answer: Not even.) And yes, not being on Facebook meant I was slow to learn some family news. But since, in my family, we talk, text, and visit regularly, that wasn't a huge problem. People frequently assumed I'd seen things they'd posted, until I reminded them of the hiatus. Some discussions of my work took place entirely without me around to participate them, which is not a bad thing at all, and much like real life. I missed significant birthdays and wins of my friends, who will forgive me.

An invaluable part of this experiment: I spent some of the hiatus prepping posts for the coming months. Having a well-stocked queue is, to me, the only real way to handle these publishing tasks. I know I was more productive in preparing posts in advance, without having to worry about day to day posting. Those advance posts, in effect, help me have a mini-hiatus in the weeks ahead, when nearly everything will be already taken care of. This, too, is priceless. The rest of the year, blog-wise, is going to be relatively easy.

Two big results of the hiatus: I decided to let go of two of my own publishing efforts, the Moderating Panels blog and the @NoWomenSpeakers Twitter feed, where I retweet mentions about few or no women on conference panels. That latter space, once lonely, is now crowded with many tweeters calling out the lack of women speakers. Topics covered in both that feed and the panels blog will still get coverage on The Eloquent Woman, my blog on women and public speaking. It just makes my posting somewhat more efficient. And if you follow me on @NoWomenSpeakers, switch over to @dontgetcaught, willya?

Did I lose readership? Not that I can see. People continued to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on various sites. Some, after reading announcements of the hiatus, sent "we'll miss you--enjoy the break" messages. A few friends wondered whether something was deeply wrong with me, seriously concerned. Why do absences prompt such thoughts, I wonder? But no nefarious stuff was involved in this decision. The plus: After 12 years of blogging, I've built some strong and loyal audiences, the kind that are mostly with me for the long term. I don't take them for granted, but I do expect to be interacting with them again shortly.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Mathew Wangrycht)


Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.