Storytelling? Spend a bit more time on normal

by | Jul 18, 2017 | Organizational Leadership, Storytelling | 0 comments

Last week at the National Speakers Association conference, I was able to hear Kindra Hall teach on storytelling. As a producer of the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, I have heard a lot of people speak on storytelling. Kindra is one of the best.

Normal, Explosion, New Normal

One of the most helpful things I learned in Kindra’s talk was her reframining the basic story structure of every story having “beginning, middle, end.” Instead, she encouraged us to think of these as “normal, explosion, new normal.”

  • Something is going along as normal
  • Then an explosion happens
  • After a while, a new normal resuts

During her talk, she said, people don’t spend enough time on the “normal” so listeners don’t get the chance to even care.

Nonprofit leaders need to hear this.

It’s about caring, not scaring

Nonprofit leaders tend to live in the normal and explosion. Whether it’s the people they help, the pets they rescue, the land they conserve, the normal wasn’t good and then something got worse. A drug addict almost overdoses. The abused pet is kicked out of the house. The polluted land becomes an unofficial dumping ground for others.

We are so familiar with the storm clouds of the “normal” and violent force of the “explosion,” we want to rush to the sunshine of the “new normal.” We want to show the glorious transformation. The brand new person helping others. The rescued pet in a little child’s arms. The reclaimed land filled with wildlife.

But in skipping the “normal,” we don’t give people time to care. The people we’re communicating with – donors, community members, even board members – don’t live in the normal and explosion reality that we do. It’s our job as leaders to help them care.

The only way they’ll care, is if we talk about the normal.

Are you helping people care?

Take some time with your team to look at the stories your nonprofit is telling. Are you helping people care?

If not, consider painting a more clear picture of the “normal” for the people, animals, or cause that you serve.



  1. Telling the before story is not about scaring, but caring - […] recently blogged about a storytelling tip for nonprofit leaders that I learned from Kindra Hall. The tip is especially…

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