Framing in Storytelling

Framing Overview + Framing for Emotional Engagement

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Last week I shared with you how crucial the concept of "framing" as an editing tool is for all of your communications from live presentations to Instagram if you want to continue to grow the engagement of your fans, followers and most especially, active customers.

If you missed that email you can read it here.

When we use "framing" as an editing tool we zoom in on the most important focus of our message and cut out the fluff of details and data that won't really matter to our audience (even if it does to ourselves or our team).

Using the right framing for your storytelling and communications editing is just as important as choosing the right frame for a picture you hang on the wall.

Depending on the platform, there are multiple editing frames you can use to make sure your storytelling and communications are the best they can be.

I like to use the following four frames to edit my communications:

1) Emotional connectivity

2) Visual connectivity

3) Language

4) Length

Today I'm going to delve deeper into emotional connectivity.

If your marketing and communications pieces (including short social media on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.) aren't truly connecting with your audience and growing it you might have forgotten to include emotionally engaging storytelling.

Plain old promoting rarely works well (remember, in today's modern era of marketing it's smart to use the 80/20 rule). Neither does lecturing much. The human brain is wired for stories. It's wired to remember a hero's journey with a beginning, a middle and an end, over data and statistics.

Weave Emotional Engagement Into Your Communications

>> Ask yourself am I mostly trying to promote how smart I am (or our product/service) is? Or truly sharing real value for others?

>> Share stories of the actual people (maybe you) that your idea, product, infrastructure or service has actually helped and how.


>> Layer stories of real people into your communications and presentations like a cake. Make it a rule of thumb not to share more than a tidbit or two of data or product information without accompanying it with an illustrative story about a real person.

>> Use images that almost always include real people who's stories you can highlight in your blogs, email newsletters, and other forms of social media.

Take a look below at the email I received this week from New York's Transportation Alternatives - one of the most successful city-wide advocacy organizations for safe biking, walking and public transit in the U.S. They are masters at personally engaging storytelling. This time the story is about Giovanni and it will break your heart. I'm quoting it directly.

Here's how the Transportation Alternatives Email Newsletter Opens:

Dear Melissa,

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Nine years ago, my wife gave birth to our son. I named him Giovanni. He grew up to be a good boy with bright eyes who loved soccer, like his dad.

One month ago, in the crosswalk on Northern Boulevard, while the WALK sign shone white, a man killed my son with a Jeep.

>> Read the full email newsletter including its clear call to action here.

Tragically we live in a society where many people view the lives of those doing something other than driving a car as less worthy (in this case walking across the street in a crosswalk with his mother) less valuable than those driving the car.

Transportation Alternatives excels at using emotionally engaging storytelling to focus in on the heart of the matter. Everyone matters. Children matter. Children should be able to safely walk across crosswalks without getting run over. 

You are part of the solution to create healthier, safer streets for everyone. Think about how you can use "framing" to help you tell more engaging stories this summer.

Remember, you're a work in progress. It's not about perfection, it's about authenticity and engagement. 

Why Framing Matters in Storytelling

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How you frame all of your communications from social media, to live presentations, to one-on-one conversations matters. It matters deeply if you want to actually connect with anyone successfully, whether you're selling a product, service or policy.

Why? Humans get bored easily. We now have all kinds of great options at our fingertips, even during live presentations and meetings.

Chances are you're skimming this quickly to see if I have anything you really need to know included.

Great emotionally engaging storytelling and communications well framed is the magic tool that can get people to truly pay attention.

By framing our stories we zoom in on what matters most and cut out the weeds of details that only really matter to ourselves (and our team).

Two things to ask yourself when you're editing through framing:

1) Is this information too into the weeds for this audience? Is it beyond their skill set or interest?

2) Does this information detract from the main focus of the core message I want my audience to think about and remember?

Abby Wambach is a soccer legend, but she's also a fabulous storyteller. During her 26-minute commencement speech, she layers her talk with neatly framed personal stories that artfully illustrate her message that is about the audience, not her.

While her talk is smart, it's also pitched exactly right for the young audience.

In the short piece below she flips the script on Little Red Riding Hood and shares that she's realized she is the wolf, and so are the young women graduating. Wow. I wish I'd been told the story this way as a girl. Talk about owning your power.

I bet I know what your first response is to this advice - Melissa I don't have time to frame my stories better! I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of needing to share emotionally engaging stories in my social media and live presentations!

But that's scarcity thinking. Scarcity thinking is the #1 reason you're not a better storyteller.

Here's your reality check - there's plenty of time if you choose to make it.

Until I got rid of my television I didn't realize how many hours a day I spent with it. My sister recently did the same thing, and like me, she's found hours of "me" time to read, to listen to podcasts, to spend time with friends and family she didn't realized she had.

I can still watch movies and television programs on my laptop, but now when I choose to I'm not doing it mindlessly.

The same mindset can be a choice for spending time on our computers and our phones. There is enough time if we choose to take the time to find it.

Here's a list of the demons I've struggled with in honing my own storytelling and social media skills. See if any of these resonate for you:

1) I don't have enough time to master storytelling skills and learn how to edit down my communications pieces to be really compelling (see above).

2) I don't have enough talent to blend storytelling into all these different social media platforms. Or I'm too old to learn all these social media platforms.

3) I'm not really interesting enough for anyone to want to actually hear my personal stories.

4) I'll never be given this particular live presentation opportunity again so I need to pack in as much information as possible to prove I really know what I'm talking about so people think they got their money's worth and then someone in the audience might hire me.

Here's your reality check - there's plenty of time if you choose to make it.

No, you don't need to master all of the social media platforms, but you do need to have enough social media to allow you to constantly connect with fresh audiences.

For years and years I used the "I don't have enough time" + "I don't have enough talent" and "I'm too old" excuses to keep me from delving back into my art and then learning how to create it digitally.

The irony is that now it's my art that's helping me create a truly unique presence for Pedal Love, and has the opportunity to help create a vibrant financial platform. 

Here's a Tweet I did last Sunday for the 1st World Bicycle Day featuring my latest illustration. It's my second most popular Tweet this year. 

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Framing from an Abundant Mindset

>> I have more time than I think I do. I can find at least 15-30 minutes everyday to learn how to frame my stories to be more compelling.

>> I can do this. I have enough talent. I don't have to master all of social media. I can start with 1-2 that appeal to me most, and it can be an ongoing process of improvement.

>> The personal is universal. The things that I've struggled with and overcome are exactly what some of my friends, followers and new audiences need to hear about to help them on their journey. 

>> This presentation, or email is one of many I'm going to give so it's worth narrowing the focus so it's easy for my audience to remember what's really valuable for them.

Next we'll delve even deeper into framing strategies for several different type of storytelling platforms to help you on your journey to become masterful. 

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