As technology continues to revolutionize the world, soft skills are getting more weight.
Simultaneously, social media is silencing the masses while giving voice to millions as well, primarily through storytelling aimed at literature, personal and corporate branding, as well as pleasure and entertainment.
In subsequent programs tailored to add value as part of this year’s International Civility for the Girl Child Day celebrations done every October 13th through to month-end, Women Who Win Africa (WWWA) partnered with Women Palava Network (WOPAN) for a Masterclass training on Finding Your Voice by employing The Art of Storytelling.
Storytelling is an interactive art of presenting life events that have a moral teaching in a unique way that spurs your target audience’s imaginations.
It makes them pant for more.
The five-day online program featured Nigeria’s Marylynda Obioha, a Women Empowerment Strategist and Content Management Expert, as the lead coach.
From 20 countries, 111 African girls and women aged 45, drawn from the film and documentary industry, voice-over artists, students, content creators, Women and Girl Child advocates, public speakers, and Youth and Good Governance advocates sought an audience with Ms. Obioha, seeking to find and use their voice through storytelling.
“The thing that makes a story a story is the message behind it and so a good story should always pass a message,” says Ndifreke Favour, the course representative.
Storytelling is a perfect way to reach out to people. While serving as the teller’s voice, storytelling empowers the chronicler to reveal more, educate more and inspire more.
In branding and marketing, storytelling is the magic behind huge sales and brand visibility and enables storytellers to prove themselves as experts in that field.
According to Headstream, 79% of customers prefer companies infusing stories in marketing.
“Your story must have a theme, subtheme, setting, characters, conflict, and plot. Most importantly, it should embrace diverse storytelling tools and techniques,” says Ms. Obioha.
The theme is the story’s main idea, the idea or moral you’re pushing to the audience. Is it love and romance, immorality in the city, motivation, or how hard work is a magic button to success?
“Sub-theme is the minor idea(s) of the story. It sums up the story’s main idea,” the coach explains.
The time, place, and circumstance in which your events are orchestrated is the setting of your story. It may be during a pandemic, a century ago, economic recess, a political revolution, or a time of grief after a breakup.
The plot is the storyline or a sequence of events that make up a complete story, according to the trainer, while the conflict is a clash between two opposing forces.
The conflict usually occurs when the main character (the person, animal, thing, or creature playing specific roles) struggles with either an external or internal conflict.
Conflicts in Storytelling
Self-conflict emanates from internal wrangles, things you’re struggling with that almost nobody knows about.
It might be low self-esteem, fear, or self-discouragement.
However, Natural (Root/Foundational) and Supernatural conflicts in a story, such as a thunderstorm, evil spells, or hunger, exist, too.
When the characters, which might still involve you as the antagonist or the protagonist, clash with other characters, it is a Relational Conflict.
These conflicts evoke a sense of required action in the characters and the audience, making them find solutions.
To engage your audience and be interesting, you must embrace storytelling techniques, such as humor and otherwise.
In storytelling, Inspiration is the driving force within you to curate the journey on paper.
One’s upbringing, failures and successes and their effects on your life, your environment, a movie you watched, or a person’s story you know are some of the pages you can scroll and find inspiration.
Summarily, anything can be someone’s inspiration to story-tell.
According to recent research by Soocial.com, in corporate branding and marketing, approximately 27% of 18-34 year-olds desire brand narratives which inspire them.
That’s huge enough for a storyteller.
Such are the materials you need while crafting your story. They can be digital or analog.
“You can use Google Keep as your story bank. This is my top secret,” she reveals.
The google Play store and Appstore-available app enable users to save links to all works they read or desire to save.
It automatically saves your document or story, according to Ms. Obioha, and ensures you never lose the information.
Other essential storytelling tools are WPS, Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Markdown Apps, Book and Pen, Ulysses, and Google Keep.
Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid would serve as proofing and editing tools for your story.
Writing an Engaging Story
- Use simple and everyday words. Don’t complicate language or over-employ jargon.
- Be very conversational in your use of words. This brings a sense of inclusion and engagement to the audience.
- “Write your story from the listeners’ mind. Write or tell as the narrator and as the listener as well,” Ms. Obioha advises.
- Mind your diction by using respectful words which accommodate all readers without discrimination against religion, culture, or perspectives.
Additionally, have different scenes in an eventful way and also use the available storytelling tools.
Types of Storytelling Techniques
- Using Flashback: A technique used in recalling an old event or experience. It adds flavor to the story.
- Having a protagonist and an antagonist: “The bad guy (antagonist) could be the government, your school system, your village people, your immediate environment, your bad friends, etc. They are those things that ever fight your progress,” explains Ms. Obioha. In business, it is usually the competitor or maneuvering the discouraging economic times.
- Employing conflict: This technique highlights the friction between the good and bad guys. It paves the journey to the hard-gotten victory.
- Using imagery: You must master the art of having your audience picture your stories in their head. This adds power to it.
- Having a filtering third eye: Have the ability to sieve and discard anything not adding value to your story.
Additional storytelling techniques include employing suspense, a killer headline, being conversational, and calling the audience to action.
Whether in prose, drama, poetry, or any other approach, originality is the backbone of all stories.
You must learn to use your own voice markedly without stealing or pulling ideas from elsewhere and patching them into your story.
“Originality connects you with your audience, makes your story unique, and awakens the audience’s eagerness to listen, watch or read it. It also helps you create a personal or business brand story easily,” adds the coach.
Using a unique tone and experience, tell the untold about you or your theme.
“Have a signature tone or a signature attached to your stories. Let people know you for something very unique or special that can only be attached to your work,” she advocates.
However, even if you tell your original story, not everyone will resonate with it because not all are your audience.
You might not be an apt reader, but storytelling and intentional reading are intertwined.
To craft great stories, you must intently read about others and how they made it there, and then you can chart your own path, identify your tone and voice, and embrace your approach.
“It is only when you become an intentional reader that you will always have something to write or a story to tell,” she rejoins.
Ms. Obioha champions having a story bank where a writer can store all story ideas, characters, and plots instead of stealing other people’s works.
Writers must also understand trending issues around them and speak the language of their audience by infusing a sense of updatedness in their write-ups.
Self-realization, sufficient security, clarity of voice, and high self-esteem are vital for meaningful storytelling.
That is why Dr. Louisa, the Founder of Women Who Win Africa and International Civility for the Girl Child Day, partnered with GirlsWhoBrunchTour (GWBT) and Teens Connect Africa, a teens-centered advocacy organization in Abuja, Nigeria, to explain the essence of civility among teen girls.
Nicola Mitchell is the Founder of GWBT, which has attended to over 40,000 girls globally.
The three organizations seek to empower, equip and educate the Girl Child.
The virtual Masterclass event focused on Self Esteem, Etiquette Sexual Abuse and Education.
Sexual Abuse and Education workshop
In the current era, children are bombarded with all sorts of conflicting information from parents, religious leaders, teachers, friends, the media, and otherwise, leaving them confused, according to Darlene Bradley, a homeland security officer, and Human Trafficking expert.
While addressing the teens on Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking, she reminds them, “You cannot trust everybody that comes over your life.”
Human trafficking involves sex trafficking, labor trafficking, debt bondage, and indentured servitude.
“It is the recruitment of people by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploiting them,” she explained.
Sex trafficking/abuse involves one being used sexually for a certain value in scenarios in which the person is not voluntarily acting.
“The value can be money, drugs, clothing or even shelter,” she explains.
Through force, deception, control, or fraud, the trafficker regulates the person, especially minors, into working for the latter’s personal gain.
Statistics remind us that Africa accounts for 8% of child sex trafficking in the world.
Way above 400 000 people in Africa are victims of sexual exploitation.
Healthy relationships are a practical solution to curbing sexual abuse and human trafficking.
“A healthy relationship means both parties respect each other’s opinions and boundaries, have a mutual trust, practice equality, support each other, empower and treat each other with encouragement and honesty,” says Marta Bell, a former Indianapolis police officer, empowerment speaker, and criminal justice educator.
It isn’t demeaning and surreptitious.
“If you want to know how a person will treat you, look at how they treat those around them,” she advises.
She urges women to respect themselves first, have a voice on how they are treated, know the red flags, and speak up when things go asunder.
According to Jessica Alexander-Owens, one needs to do tons of inside work to shine from the inside confidently.
She’s an author, podcaster and brand strategist helping girls and women discover opportunities leading to royalty, passion, and self-discovery.
She dissected the acronym PRETTY, meaning Purpose (People), Resilient, Excellent, Teachable, Thankful, and Yourself.
Among teenagers, self-esteem is central.
“While growing into adulthood, it is important to understand your purpose and surround yourself with people and opportunities that push you towards it,” she urged the teenagers.
Withstanding or recovering from difficulties with ease is essential. That’s resilience.
“You have to keep going and trying,” Ms. Jessica encouraged.
Even when hard, you should offer your best excellently in everything you do.
“When you show up in excellence, those watching you want to put their resources behind you and help you up,” she says.
Because none knows everything, a teachable heart, receptive to knowledge, can be banked on.
For growth, an attitude of gratitude is a potent recipe.
“We should remain thankful for all that we have and also what we are yet to have, complaining not,” says Ms. Jessica.
Most importantly, remain yourself and let nothing alter your unique self.
“The most important thing to do in this life is to be true to yourself and the standards you’ve been taught in childhood,” she confirms.
While developing self-confidence, learn to affirm positive energy into your life and future.
But in the words of Dr. Akaiso, “Self-esteem and confidence are not just for the girl child but for everyone.”