The difference between explanation and storytelling

In grad school, I took a storytelling class in which we were to make a 3-minute film as a final project.

The goal was to choose an organization and, of course, “tell their story.” At the time I didn’t quite understand what that meant.  I was a technical writer then, and accustomed to explaining how to do things, not why. And so I chose an organization and set out interviewing its employees about what the organization offered and how to use it.

Of course, when I showed this storyboard to the class, it didn’t go over well. I was missing the point, they explained. What were people supposed to feel about my organization? As a technical writer, it seemed a ridiculous question!

So clearly, I needed a new approach. I realized that I had to change the film’s point of view and interview someone who was the “hero” – a person impacted by the organization in a positive way.

Here was the result – a film that taught me a lot about the difference between explanation and storytelling.

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