Tell me a story — but make it fast

Storytelling. It’s an essential part of persuasion for fundraising and marketing.

But your story can’t be a rambling, meandering yarn that goes on without a point. Not in the hyper-paced, information-now world we live in. No, stories have to be focused and most of all succinct.

How to stay on point? A good place to start is by crystallizing the message … to determine the crux of the story before writing to make sure the point you’re making is right out front.

That’s where the six-word story comes in.

What’s a six-word story? It’s kind of like a haiku poem with a dash of narrative thrown in. It gives just enough information for the reader to fill in the blanks. More importantly, it’s a great exercise to get to the heart of your story and keep it front and center as you write the longer version.

One of the most famous six-word stories is this one from Hemmingway:

For sale: baby shoes. Never used.

Just six simple words that start the story playing in the reader’s head.

For marketing, think of a case history about how someone used the product you’re selling; or for fundraising, how someone benefited from the services they received from the charity. Then pare it down to its essence, to six simple words.

That’s the key message of your story.

Try a six-word story when you’re working on your next marketing or fundraising project. It’s a great exercise.

For inspiration, visit a great website – – and see stories on just about every conceivable topic that capture your imagination while they celebrate brevity. It is the soul of wit, after all.

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