Tell Your Story in 3 Words

What’s it like to be a grape during harvest? We pictured the plump, juicy pinot noir grape dangling on a cluster, hanging from a vine, soaking up the last of September’s warm Oregon sunshine on the side of a rolling hill in the Chehalem Mountains. The grape doesn’t know what’s coming, but our GoPro camera was about to find out. We set out to tell the story of the life of a wine grape at harvest time. We called it: Life of Grape.

The 3 Word Drill Down

Unlike the beginning of this blog, a 3-word story doesn’t have a lot of frills. Three words don’t leave much room for a flowery description, in fact, adjectives just don’t make the cut. When you really drill down to 3 words, the only thing you have room for are the basics.

Why Tell a Story in 3 Words?

It’s easy to get off track in storytelling. If you get distracted and wonder off on tangents, you’re likely losing your audience. So, unless you want to share your story with absolutely no one (see our tree falling in woods blog on content distribution), it pays to focus your story.

Finding Your Focus

We didn’t actually “tell” Life of Grape in any words at all. We told it in pictures. From a picker’s hand plucking the GoPro off the vine and tossing it into a bucket, to the camera making its way back to the winery where the fun really began (no GoPros were harmed during the production of this video despite a few very close calls). But thanks to the tight focus of our 3-word story, each time we had an idea of what to shoot, we considered how it fit into getting those 3 words across to our viewers. If it took us off track, we knew it immediately.

The Shortest Kind of Storytelling

We didn’t come up with this concept. We gleaned this little gem from a storytelling workshop by The Poynter Institute a decade ago and have been putting it to work ever since. Poynter’s Al Tompkins even offers his tips in this online tutorial.

You might even be thinking, “Hey, I’ve seen this somewhere.” ABC’s Good Morning America launched a Your 3 Words series asking viewers to scribble a 3-word story on anything from a piece of paper to their own hand. Viewers submitted stills and video to share their own story with the nation. Watch some of the videos like “Triplets Turning 30” or “My Cancer Gone” here .

As for our 3-word story, Life of Grape … it’s still in production. It turned out to be a little more treacherous than we expected and a whole lot messier, too. And just like a fine wine, we think this one will be worth the wait.