Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Essence of the Story

I do the website for a non-profit organization that does mission work in Honduras. We had a meeting today to discuss the future direction of the website and how we could all make it better.

I listened to their input and captured action items that will indeed make the site easier to navigate and more meaningful. 

One of the leaders said "We need more stories about what we're doing in Honduras." I told him that when it came to stories, quantity was not nearly as important as quality. He asked for clarification and I asked one of the team members what they did. 

She said we're a medical mission. 
I asked her to explain what they did, again, she used broad terms to tell what her team does in Honduras.

When I asked her if they'd ever helped anyone, she brightened up and told me a story about a 33 year old gentleman who has a severe cleft palet that has caused him problems all his life. 

Later this year, an American doctor will to do surgery on this man. As a result of their efforts, this man will have a chance to lead a normal life without complications from his birth defect.  "He'd given up hope," she said. "He thought he'd spend the rest of his life with that condition, but the work of my team will change his life," she beamed.

 I looked at their faces, and without me saying a word, I knew that they knew - THAT's the kind of story they should be telling.

I ended with: people don't want to hear what your team is doing, they want an example of how your work there is changing lives. You do that by getting at the essence of why you do what you do.

The purpose of most websites is to get people to act. Web owners want people to become activists, to buy their products, to donate, or to volunteer.  The only way to get people to act is to compel them with words, photographs, videos, deals or some other means. Successful websites, tell their stories effectively.

Only time will tell if what I said actually helps their organization to spread their message.




16 comments:

  1. I am sure it will help. That is great!

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    1. Thanks Julia. Did y'all get snow?

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  2. the answer was right there all the time, an ah ha moment I would say, don't you love when that happens,

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  3. That's wonderful the man will have a fixed cleft palate.
    To think he lived so long this way in unbelievable.

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    1. I smiled when she told me the story. I love the work these folks are doing.

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  4. It was, and I do Laurie. They're doing remarkable work and I'd love to see them do well.

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  5. You are right on the mark. When I hear about missions our med team has done I don't want to know how they shipped equipment, or how hot is was..I want to see the faces and smiles of the real people getting the help they need. Although I do smile when I see how primitive the working conditions are and then the same Doc will give us a hard time if the room is too hot or the lights aren't just right!

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  6. Rick You are so right. Experience makes one wise. Would you have said the same thing 30 years ago?

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  7. Gosh - glad they got you to "market" their good works! I hate to use the term "market" but in this day and age it's unavoidable!

    Take care
    x

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  8. I agree with you Rick, people are looking for personalization... :) Very keen to see this, I hope they follow through:)

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  9. You're right Rick - this one story alone speaks volumes about the mission of this organization.

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  10. A story reaches to the heart while mission statements get stopped at the brain.

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  11. Rick, my friend Angie McInvale lives in Honduras. She is the Mother of several homes for orphans. She started with 1 small cottage and a handful of children. When I speak to her, that is our conversation, how lives are being changed..
    Wonderful story my friend.

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  12. Stories about people are always the most interesting. This is a great idea for your website.

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  13. Genius! A virtual pat on the back for you!

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  14. I'm so glad that you can have a part in their spreading hope for a better life for less fortunate people. A story that gives hope is a good story to tell .Good luck with this project.
    JB

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