Honing Your Team’s Skills: Investing in Professional Development

How to build a sustainable storytelling process for the long term.

To develop compelling stories, you must have the people and the skills needed to make it possible. If your organization is not there yet, encourage team members to develop complementary skill sets: spend some time exploring the recommended tutorials at the end of this module. To build on what you already know, visit our Resource Library. In a rush? Consider hiring a freelancer or agency to help you accomplish the work quickly.

Your storytelling process should be one that is sustainable over the long term for you, your team and your organization. If you don’t have the capacity to build a large storytelling campaign right now, look for small, recurring opportunities to share stories about the people you serve and the solutions you offer.

To Train Better Storytellers, Invest in These Six Skills

To tell compelling stories, invest in the people and the skills needed to make it possible. Sometimes this involves hiring new people, and sometimes you may need to ask your team to spend time developing the new skills required to consistently produce great stories. Here, we’ve outlined a suite of mostly free or low-cost learning tools that can help your organization tell better stories.

1. Photography.

If you’re just learning your way around a camera, Lifehacker offers some tips on the basics of photography. These days, however, most smartphones can capture high-quality pictures that are good enough for any campaign, and this course from Skillshare can teach you the tips and tricks to make your smartphone photos amazing.

Once you’ve taken great photos, make them stand out with a little editing. Check out this $10 course from Photojojo University or learn Photoshop in 25 minutes with this video from Lifehacker.

2. Videography.

As with photos, most smartphones can now capture high-quality video. Tuts+ offers this course in smartphone videography for just $15. Once you’ve captured your video, use this lesson from Udemy to become a great video editor.

3. Podcasting.

In recent years, podcasting has become one of the fastest growing storytelling mediums. The success of a podcast largely depends on your organization’s ability to produce high-quality sound, coupled with powerful or interesting stories. Transom is exploring the intersection of new media and public radio and has put together a great series on the basics of podcasting. You might also check out this series of tutorials from This American Life, which looks more broadly at how to distribute great stories.

4. Coding.

Learning to code can help your team turn stories into interactive experiences. We recommend that you start by learning HTML and CSS; luckily Code Academy makes it easy and fun. When you’re ready to move on to programming languages, Code School has you covered.

5. Design.

Once again, Lifehacker is here to help you learn the Basics of Photoshop in Under 25 Minutes, but Hackdesign perhaps does it one better by bringing daily design courses right to your inbox. If you’re more interested in learning to work with vectors, Adobe has a helpful course on getting started with Illustrator.

6. Writing.

Whether it’s drafting a script for your video or building a compelling email campaign, succinct and impactful writing can go along way in helping you tell your story. Skillshare offers a variety of classes to help you think more creatively about storytelling, while Udemy can help you improve your basic writing skills. The Poynter Institute can help you approach stories from a different point of view, with their free course on Writing Beyond the Inverted Pyramid.

And a Word about Freelancers and Agencies…

If it’s crunch time and your team needs to finish on a story with a deadline, consider hiring a freelancer or creative agency to help you accomplish the work quickly. Companies like Cloud Peeps can quickly connect you with talent.

Remember that your storytelling process should be one that is sustainable over the long term for you, your team and your organization. If your organization doesn’t have the capacity to build a storytelling team right now, look for simple opportunities to experiment with new storytelling techniques over time.