Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About SCR | Contact SCR | Feedback |Site Map | Help | Bookmark and Share

Demonstrating Your Impact: Telling Your Story

When demonstrating your library’s impact to your institution, you will need to organize all the data that you have collected – gate counts, reference statistics, cost/benefit analyses, anecdotal data, etc. – and present them to your administration in some format.  Your goal is that your presentation gets the attention of your administration, makes the case that your library has a huge positive impact on the institution, and convinces them that support for the library needs to be maintained or increased.

Part 3 in the Demonstrating Your Impact series is called “Telling Your Story.” This section is about exploring the idea of using storytelling as a means of organizing your data and having the most impact.

storytimeAndy Goodman, the author of Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes (free download http://www.thegoodmancenter.com/resources/) says that “stories are a terrific way to bring large issues down to ground level where people can get their minds (and hearts) around them.  But after you have told your story, you must back it up with the numbers that prove you have more than one story to tell.”  In this video of a Plenary address for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, Andy Goodman gives a powerful demonstration of the importance of storytelling in engaging decision makers: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/15665748.

How can you take this concept of storytelling and apply it to the data that you have been collecting on your library?  Cindy Olney, with the NN/LM Outreach and Evaluation Resource Center, describes a very do-able process in her April 17, 2013 SCR CONNECTions webinar, Once Upon a Time: Using Evaluation Findings to Tell Your Project’s Story (recorded webinar: https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p18217101/). In her description of how to organize your presentation, Olney suggests

  • analyzing the data that you have collected,
  • articulating the key findings from charts and graphs into sentences, and
  • deciding what the most important findings are
  • weave them into one of two story systems: Sparkline or Storybook

Sparkline: This system, described by Nancy Duarte’s in a TED Talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks.html), is designed for persuasive arguments (like convincing your employers to expand the role of the library). In this system, the presentation goes back and forth between the vision of what could be and the situation as it is now.  The presentation ends with a call to action.  This Sparkline system can be shown to underlay great persuasive speeches, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech.

Storybook: Olney suggests the storybook format is best for presenting the results of a completed project.  Three important elements should be included for a good story:

  • a likeable main character in an undesirable circumstances
  • this main character takes steps toward improving those circumstances – their progress is rife with obstacles
  • at the end, the main character is transformed

Whether you use the Storybook or the Sparkline system, to keep your story interesting and memorable, Olney adds “don’t let the data get in the way of a good story – write your story, then weave the data into it.”

Read part 1 and 2 of the Demonstrating Your Impact series (Return on Investment and Collecting Stories).

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.