June 22, 2016
Articulating ideas effectively is crucial to the success of a school district in any capacity. However, many districts’ communication strategies struggle to reach the public. Rhetorical experts suggest that traditional strategies of facts followed by statistics have become outdated and end up falling silent to today’s audiences. So how can a school district be more engaging? Well, audiences have always learned lessons the best when they come in the form of a story. Storytelling is now being utilized by politicians, city leaders, and the like to better articulate new ideas, grab the attention of their public, and appeal to their emotions.
Turning basic data into a story allows school districts an avenue to relay information in a more interesting and detailed way. With an influx of information coming from new technology and more districts vying for attention, its necessary to present ideas using a more gripping and impressive method. By telling these ideas through stories, a district is more likely to gain support from staff, students, parents, and the public. This is especially effective when the stories themselves relate to the audience. For example, parents and students are likely to be moved by the story of a student who went through the school district them self; the public may be more moved to vote in support of a levy if they see the story of how improving the school district has benefitted the community before.
Furthermore, the emotional appeal of a story is priceless. Also known as pathos, creating an emotional interest is one of the three parts of persuasion utilized in traditional rhetoric. Simply stating the data of what a school’s funding will assist fails to charm an audience the way a story of a winning robotics team heading to a state competition thanks to said funding would. By providing inspiring or empathy-invoking examples for the point that is being made, a district is more likely to gain the interest and support they need. Not to mention that when these stories are shared with the public technologically they are likely to be shared, providing free marketing for the district and further affirmation. We have all seen positive stories of schools, students, and teachers being shared on our Facebook timelines. Those stories are often distributed with the intention of gaining awareness or support.
Besides garnering more attention, stories are also in the best interest of a school district because they are a simple way of making information more accessible to the public. Providing data and figures may be clear for those who curate them and a select few others, but it’s wrong to assume that everyone will process it the same way. Information given in this fashion could more easily be cast aside for its formality and cast the district itself as out of touch. The ideas being communicated should be told with the audience in mind, thus the receptiveness of a story is likely to receive a better response.
Storytelling is a communicative strategy as old as rhetoric itself, but when utilized by a school district it can provide far more positive responses to the information and ideas that are shared. Telling a story allows districts to gain more attention in a flood of information, garner the empathy of their audience, and make the information being shared easily absorbable. It’s clear why this method of communication has quickly gained popularity in many sectors and can serve the interests of school districts the same way.