I am an Impact Storyteller. I help others to tell their stories with the hope that this will help to change the world. Sounds easy right? Well not always and this is usually because change is often messy.
The language and the art of ‘impact’ is highly complex and shaped by widely differing contexts. Subsequently, capturing and communicating can be allusive and often hard to visualise or articulate.
In an attempt to highlight the overall impact of projects funded within the ESRC-DFID Strategic Partnership, the Impact Initiative programme regularly commission and publish a series of impact stories. The series illustrates the breadth of the partnership, showcasing a rich source of development research evidence and impact.
Commissioning and editing these stories is one of the many pleasures of my role as the communications lead for the programme. These resources chart a range of challenges that occurred during the research process, different approaches taken, and how barriers in achieving impact were overcome. Ultimately, they demonstrate how research is improving the lives of people around the world.
Written stories have a long shelf life, but the spoken word often has the added advantage of giving a hint at the people behind the story. At the recent event the Power of Partnership: Research to Alleviate Poverty event hosted by the ESRC-DFID Strategic Partnership, we took storytelling to another level. We invited participants to share their stories in the impact storytelling booth. ‘The booth’ was in fact a cosy side room which provided a space to break away and think about the basics – we asked individuals to record their name, present a brief overview of their project and why it matters; be clear about the challenge the research addresses and what impact or intended impact happened as a result. As a thank you participants were given the much coveted yellow impact storyteller badge.
The storytellers only had three minutes to tell the story before the app on the iPad stopped recording. What could possibly go wrong? It turns out not much actually – once people were in the room they were happy to tell their stories and sometimes they even recorded one story and then came back to tell it again from another angle or occasionally, another language.
Watch the unedited versions below - or via The Impact Initiative YouTube Channel:
This conference activity was never about beautifully crafted films. It was always about the story. As you can see three minutes isn’t that long but despite the stories brevity, the relationship between the research activity and subsequent impact is not simplified nor exaggerated. I hope that this technique forces the mind to focus on what matters and sparks ongoing conversations and stories. It certainly was fun and got participants talking and to my mind that can only be a good thing.
Why don’t you become an impact storyteller and use our impact recipe book to help guide your own impact stories?