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The role of storytelling in advocacy

Show don't tell!

Storytelling is critically important in talking with people about things like vaccines. That’s for a number of reasons:

  • Most of us are not scientists so we don’t connect with the data. In fact, sometimes the data can be confusing or even scary
  • We are emotional beings – our decision-making is based on the heart and the head. We need stories to help our emotional decision-making process
  • It helps people relate. It’s personal. It’s real. It’s not a bunch of numbers
  • Frankly, it’s just more interesting

Storytelling best practices

  • Tailor it to your audience: what will resonate most with them
  • Identify the purpose of the story: what is the message you want to get across
    • Describe what happened instead of explaining the main lesson
    • Keep it short and focused
    • Make it personal: use your own experiences
    • Use emotion and empathy
    • Don’t be the hero of the story (”and then I saved the day…”)
    • Practice!
  • Learn more about advocating and engaging on social media
The value to the public includes data, filter, visualization and story.

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