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How to Repurpose Content for Maximum Impact: The Power of the Story Arc

How can you tell one story across different channels without losing its essence or impact?

It can be so frustrating! You want to repurpose that story, but each platform has different requirements and audiences!

The answer is to start with the arc! Create a story arc to adapt your story to different formats, lengths, and audiences.

What’s a story arc?

A story arc is a structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s called an “arc” because it has a rising and falling action. The arc follows a clear progression of building up events and emotions and then winding them down toward the end.

The story arc can help you craft a compelling and coherent narrative that can be easily modified for different channels and audiences. For example, you can use the same story arc to create a blog post, a social media post, a video, or a podcast episode. You can also adjust the length of your story depending on how much time and attention you have from your audience.

How to create a story arc:

To create a story arc, you need to identify four elements:

  1. The Hook: Grab Your Audience’s Attention

    The hook is an opening sentence or paragraph that grabs your audience’s attention and makes them curious about your story. It should introduce the main topic, problem, or question that your story will address.

    For this blog post, the hook is the first line.
    “How can you tell one story across different channels without losing its essence or impact?”

  2. The Challenge: Create Tension and Emotion

    The challenge is the main obstacle or conflict you or your protagonist faced in your story. It should show what was at stake, why it mattered, and how it emotionally affected you or your protagonist.

    For this blog post, the challenge is “It can be so frustrating! You want to repurpose that story, but each platform has different requirements and audiences!”

  3. The Solution: Show How You Overcome the Obstacle

    The solution is the outcome or resolution of your challenge. It should show how you or your protagonist overcame the obstacle, what you learned, and how you changed.

    For this blog post, the solution is:

    “The answer is to start with the arc! You’ll want to create a story arc that you can adapt your story to different formats, lengths, and audiences.”

  4. The Takeaway: Share Your Main Point or Message

    The takeaway is the main message you want your audience to remember from your story. It should relate to your purpose, audience, and channel and include a call to action if applicable.

    For this post, a solution might be “Start with the arc!”

Use the Story Arc as Your Building Blocks

Once you have these elements, you can use them as building blocks to create different versions of your story for different platforms. Let’s use this blog post as an example:

  1. The Hook: Use it to create a headline or an Instagram caption

    I riffed on the hook to create the headline for this blog post. I might also use it for an Instagram caption or a Twitter post.

    Blog Title: “How to Repurpose Your Stories for Maximum Impact: The Power of the Story Arc”

  2. The Challenge: Use it as a video/podcast teaser

    If I was going to create a YouTube video teaser or a podcast episode, I might start by riffing on the challenge.

    Video Intro: “You want to repurpose one story across a variety of platforms, but dang it! Each platform has different requirements and audiences! What are you supposed to do?”

  3. Solution: Use it as a case study, LinkedIn post, or presentation

    If I was creating this blog as a case study or an instructional presentation, I might go straight to the solution:

    “To repurpose content that you can easily adapt to different platforms, start by creating a story arc. Here’s how…”

  4. Takeaway: Great for titles, rallying cries, and tweets

    I can always use a takeaway as a conclusion, a call to action or a rallying cry. I might even do a simple tweet on Twitter.

    “Want to repurpose content more easily? Start with the arc! Here’s how:”

By creating a story arc, you can more easily repurpose your stories for multiple platforms without losing their essence or impact. You can also create a consistent brand message across different channels and audiences, which can help you build your authority and reputation online.

I think you can see how this blog post is going to end! I’ll give you a final rallying cry for repurposing content:

Start with the arc!

Laura Bergells teaches public speaking and business communication classes and workshops. Hire Laura.

Take Laura’s communications and public speaking classes at LinkedIn Learning.  – Free to LinkedIn Premium Members! 


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How to transform presentation content into video social media posts

Here’s a question about presentations and videos I started to get a lot last month. I’ll paraphrase it:

Hey Laura. How do you do those square, short, silent little videos that you share on LinkedIn and Twitter?

The answer is: really easily! I use a tool called Canva. Update: And here’s a direct link so you can use Canva to create presentations and slides.

As a stand & deliver trainer, I have oodles of presentation content. Canva lets me repurpose bits and pieces of this content for easy social media sharing.

Yes, Canva excels at quick online video creation. I’m finding a lot of people use Canva — but we tend not to think of using it for video. We tend to think of it for images.

I’m also thinking a lot of people have PowerPoint presentations. Why not try using Canva to repurpose your presentation content for social media posts?

Canva lets you do this in a way that’s super easy to accomplish. I show you how in this two minute video. Enjoy!

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

Blogging Education

What if food prep becomes the top tech skill we can’t live without? Sound crazy? Bear with me…

What if we started learning food prep and cooking in elementary school? And I’m not thinking about food prep as an elective course or two. No, my vision is much bolder:

Learning to cook needs to be mandatory. Food prep needs to be integrated into every class you take in school. You must demonstrate ongoing cooking competence to pass classes and graduate.

Think about it. What might change if food preparation was used as the foundation for every STEM course you take in school? How might it change society and the economy?

For example, imagine if the only STEM education we received in school was food preparation. As you learn to cook, you more deeply learn every STEM subject.

Science. Nutrition, health, chemistry, experimental design, and anatomy. 

Technology. Knives, ovens, stoves, sous vide machines, freezers, and refrigerators. 

Engineering. Spacial relations, temperature, land use, processing, and packaging. 

Math. Calculating and charting: temperature and time and portions and servings. 

Gee whiz. A student can learn almost every topic by learning through food and cooking. It’s a solid STEM education, and then some.

Food is social and cultural. It’s finance and budgeting. It’s art and history and drama and presentation and…

…well, food is actually integrated into everything. It is literally fundamental for human survival. It’s the basis for a wide range of metaphors.

So why isn’t cooking used as a foundation for teaching every STEM subject we learn in school? How is it that you can graduate high school without demonstrating you know how to prepare, serve, and fund a month’s worth of nutritional, well-balanced meals? 

Honestly? I suspect one reason food prep isn’t considered worthy for a complete STEM curriculum is because cooking is traditionally viewed as “women’s work” and thus “not science-y or math-y or tech-y or manly enough”.

Maybe someone is thinking, “No, wait, how dare you? I need my STEM to be wrapped up in more important concepts than lowly food prep. My boy has an interest in computers and wants to work in the auto industry, so STEM means computer labs and an auto shop. He can pick up nutritional knowledge in the streets or at home.”

But why can’t a boy take what he learned about food prep and apply it to whatever field he wishes to pursue? Isn’t taking knowledge from one field and applying it to another a key creative and critical thinking skill?

Critical thinking. Creative thinking. You need both of these skills to write decent code.

And before you code one single line? You need to learn to think. And you need to eat. 

Computer programmer, car mechanic, art historian, athlete, teacher, writer — whatever. Every field involves food and nutrition. Because everybody’s gotta eat. It’s timeless.

While students pursue their career fields, they need the wherewithal to keep themselves healthy and financially solvent. Instead of touching a computer screen all day, they can learn to navigate the real world with the tactile sensation of handling food. 

Fingers sliding over glass is not the interface of the future. You need to know how objects interact with each other in a physical world. (That way, you’ll also know to look up from your phone so you don’t get hit by a car. And feel less lonely.)

“But…but…technology. It means computers…coding…”

What if we kill that concept? What if the tech skills you learn in school today aren’t the tech skills you need in the future? (Hint: they won’t be.)

We’ve been picking up our nutrition in the streets. It hasn’t been working out so well. So let’s flip it around.

Learn to cook in school.

Learn to code in the streets.

Teach people to cook, and you’re teaching them to think. You’re giving them a useful skill and a shared language. You’re giving them metaphors along with nutrition. You’re also exposing students to a broad range of educational and cultural topics.

Who’s with me? Let’s all get fired up about learning to cook!


Laura Bergells writes, coaches, and teaches. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

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Blogging Education Presentation social media

Why sign the photo release?

Stock photos pretty much suck. Perhaps they had their time and place, but their moment has passed.

After a few years of looking at your friend’s photos on Instagram and Facebook, your eyes have been accustomed to seeing real people doing real activities. In contrast, stock photos of people faking their emotions doesn’t quite resonate with you anymore.

We know cheese when we see it, and we don’t like it.

Over at WebInkNow, the wonderful writer David Meerman Scott blogged about browsing the web to research senior living centers for his father. The facilities that used stock photos of elderly people on their websites didn’t speak to Mr. Scott. He preferred sites that featured the images of real people.

Naturally. I seriously prefer real people to stock photos, too. No question.

However I also decline to routinely sign photo releases. I recommend that others decline, as well. Nursing homes and day care facilities will often try to slip in a photo release in the stacks of papers you must sign for a parent or child to enter their programs or receive needed services. If you don’t sign, they will often try to pressure you to do so.

Don’t do it.

The stock photo models make money for their work. Why don’t your parents and grandparents? Why don’t your children?

Many facilities are learning that stock photos aren’t cutting it anymore. They want to use your child’s image. They want an image of elderly parents and grandparents.

And they want to use them for free.

Is exploitation of free labor really the way to go? How is exploiting the image of your loved ones demonstrating client care? And if it’s all so innocent, why slip in a photo release in the middle of umpteen other forms that need to be signed strictly for the care of the client?

I suspect nursing homes and other facilities rely on our naivety about paid creative work. This is becoming an all-too common abusive practice, worthy of education and discussion.

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Doing Nothing is the New Doing Something

Recently, I noticed this absurd trend of gallantly and heroically doing nothing.

About 19 months ago, I accidentally left my cell phone home and traveled out of town on business. When I arrived at the hotel, I needed to find the conference organizer. I used my laptop to call her via Skype & explained that I forgot my cell phone.

I found not-carrying a phone to be extremely advantageous that week. No one changed plans with me at the last minute, since they had no way of reaching me. And I received no interruptions, so I got tons of stuff done.

When I got home, I didn’t want to return to my life as a cell phone carrying goofball. So I didn’t. I just stopped carrying a phone. No big deal, right?

Oh, no. Some folks made a huge deal out of it. I got four main questions:

  • Was I making some kind of social statement? (Not really. I forgot my phone one day, found out I really didn’t need it and that was that.)
  • How do I communicate effectively with clients and friends? (I make plans and stick to them. Every productivity expert on the planet tells you to only check messages at a few planned times a day, so not carrying a phone is probably a best practice.)
  • What’s it like to not carry a smart phone? (I don’t know. I’ve never carried a smart phone, only a cell phone. I have nothing to compare it to, so I honestly don’t know. The smart phone seems like a way for marketers and others to have unrestricted access to me, so I’m not all that keen on the idea of owning one.)
  • What if you have an emergency? (At first, I was stubborn. Everyone else has a phone, so I can borrow one in an emergency. That was my argument, and it lasted about 7 months. However, my partner insisted that I carry a cell for emergencies, so I got a burner mostly to comfort him and foster family harmony.)

So, there I was, not-doing anything, and it got me all kinds of attention. It was like I was actually doing something! One conference organizer suggested I prepare a talk about what it was like to not-carry a phone.

That seemed crazy to me. But I was wrong.

Not-doing something is the new doing something. People are fascinated by people who don’t-do things.

There’s a long list of popular things to not-do. Eat meat/gluten/sugar. Drink alcohol or coffee. Do drugs. Have children. Watch TV. Consume the news. Drive a car. Go to church. Use social media. Carry a gun or credit card. Honestly, the list of things to not-do is infinite.

However, what do people do while they’re not doing the thing they’re not doing?

Here’s the odd part: they talk or write incessantly about the thing they are not doing! If you decide not to use a fork, for example, you set up a Tumblr account to journal about the experience. If you’re not going to use the internet for a bit, you issue a press release and try to get media coverage or a book deal. If you plan to not-work and not-drive a car, you set up a blog and make money from the idea of not needing much money.

Frankly, I’m a bit jealous. There’s a zillion things that I don’t do. It simply never occurred to me that not-doing something was worthy of a book deal, blog, TV show, press release, or humanitarian award.

Since not-doing anything is a pretty hot trend, I thought I might cash in on this gravy train. Pick a thing that I don’t do, and then write about not doing it. What I normally do is not even think about the things I’m not doing.

Why feed the poor, care for the sick, pick up trash, or plant trees — for example — when you can do nothing and make the world a better place?

Clearly, I’ve been doing it wrong. I’m going to start not-doing it right!

What are you not-doing lately? Where’s your humanitarian award?

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Tsk! Some people do nothing but criticize…

“Waah! Some people just sit back + criticize when we try to do good for our community,” pout legions of wannabe activists.

Many passive-aggressive dimwits have gotten it into their puny brains that thoughtful, articulate criticism is the equivalent of “do-nothing”. That critics “sit back” while criticizing. That criticism is a nobler, fancier word for “bitching”. Or that a critic is slothful at best and damaging at worst.


photo credit: Rhys Asplundh

Here’s a five-step self-help program designed for those who whine about the perceived ease or “negativity” of thoughtful criticism:

1. Build or co-opt a good-sized public following of readers, viewers, friends, clients, and/or colleagues.

2. Publish a witty or thoughtful speech, article, video or blog post. Sharply criticize a sacred cow or popular vice/trend of the majority of followers.

3. Make sure the audience — including both saints + pyschopaths — has a public feedback mechanism. Respond to or categorize every rant, rave, and threat.

4. Participate in public discussions. Learn how to deal with personal threats, hate mail, irrational fanaticism, reasonable arguments, and irate phone calls.

For the fifth and final step, post but one ironic and grossly iniquitous tweet:

“Some people have nothing better to do but sit back and criticize.”

Alternatively, try this ostensibly easier exercise: learn to listen to and respect thoughtful criticism. Far from bitchy, good critics make you think. They inspire conversation. They foster relationships. They make ideas better. They make the community better.

Heck. They make YOU better.

Without criticism, there can be no activism. And honestly: when was the last time you learned anything from a great review of your work?

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The most passive-aggressive phrase in social media

Ding ding ding! We have a winner for THE MOST passive-aggressive phrase used in Facebook and Twitter posts.

Coming in at number one: “some people…”.

As in posting “Some people tear down everything positive we try to do for our community” instead of “Cindy habitually encourages people to think critically before jumping on dubious social media bandwagons with wild enthusiasm!”

Or “Some people overreact to everything!” instead of “Greg seems empathetic & usually writes passionately when he believes that oppressed people are being harmed.”

some girls - the rolling stones

Photo Credit: OddSock

For the legions of “some people” and “everything” posters out there, please note: there is but one letter of difference between “posting” and “pouting”. You can make a stronger case if you write with specificity as well as passion. Engaging directly with folks who think differently can help you adjust or strengthen your point of view.

Keeping your sense of humor can help, too.

What are your runner-ups for the most counterproductive phrases you’ve seen in Twitterville and Facebookland lately?