Two teenage boys sitting on a brown leather couch. One of the boys is holding a digital device and is laughing.

How you can share your story

Storytelling forges connections among people, and between people and ideas. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that unite people. Your story can make a difference.

Two teenage boys sitting on a brown leather couch. One of the boys is holding a digital device and is laughing.

There are many types of stories and many ways to tell your story. The hints and tips below can help you get started.

The stories which you share can be about the:

  • every day things you do every day, which may not seem big but mean a lot to children
  • big things that you have done to overcome a challenge
  • ways you have been a champion for your child or children in your community
  • deadly things you do to help your family/community be deadlier
  • ways you make sure your children stay connected to language, culture and country.

Your story can be very detailed, or it could be very brief – just one or two sentences. It’s your story. You decide.

Here's an example of a brief story that says a lot in one sentence.

"Every night I tell my children I love them in language." Kuku Yalangi father, North Queensland.

 

Introduce yourself at the beginning of the story – your first name, your mob and country, and if you feel comfortable a greeting in language.

Depending on how you decide to tell your story you might need to think about all the questions below or just a couple.

  1. What do you want to call your story?
  2. Why are you telling this story?
  3. What would be the three things you would want people to remember about your story?
  4. How does your story start? What is/was the issue?
  5. How does it end? How are things now or what do you hope for in the future?
  6. What are the memorable moments in between?
  7. Are there any steps you would encourage people to take if this was happening to them? Anything you would have done differently?
  8. Are there any changes you would like to see happen by sharing your story?

There are many different ways that you can tell your story.

You can film a video using a phone, tablet or camera. You can record an audio story or original piece of music. You can create an art piece or photograph and write a story to explain the image. 

You decide which way feels most comfortable for you. If you don't have access to cameras or recording equipment talk to your local library or school they may be able to help you out.

Check out the video below created by the Families are First team as they show you their tips for filming your yarn.

Read on for a summary of their top ten tips for filming:

  1. Decide how you will tell your story.  You can talk straight to the camera or have someone ask you questions in an interview style.
  2. Choose a location with good lighting. The morning and early evenings are good times to shoot as the light is softer and you will avoid harsh shadows cast by the midday sun.
  3. Use the back facing camera.  If you’re using a phone or tablet to shoot with, the back rather than front facing (‘selfie’) camera will give you better quality footage. Have someone with you to help frame the shot so you can concentrate on telling your story.
  4. Use landscape orientation. Turning your phone to landscape rather than portrait will make sure your footage looks good on the big screen.
  5. Use the rule of thirds. When framing your shot, imagine there’s a 3 x 3 grid over the field you’re filming. Place yourself along one of the lines of the grid rather than in the middle of the shot.
  6. Avoid shaky footage. Shaky footage can make viewers feel sick. It can be hard to hold the device steady, so best to rest it up against something.
  7. Have good quality sound. It helps to have a microphone, or otherwise keep the device close and shoot somewhere quiet. Once you think you’ve got a good audio set up, do a sound check!  
  8. Keep calm on camera. It is normal to feel nervous about being on camera. Practice what you are going to say, stand/sit up straight and keep shoulders relaxed, smile and talk at a slower pace. These can help you look calm and confident on screen. 
  9. Shoot cutaway footage. Getting extra footage that relates to your story, such as your child playing sport. This can help bring your story to life.
  10. Choose a good editing program. While you might capture an hour of footage, you will probably only need to use between 2 to 3 minutes of it. Having a good editing program can turn your raw footage into something great. When choosing a program here are some things to think about: cost, check user reviews, keep it simple and check privacy settings It is easier to use a computer to edit. Some computers come with video editing software as standard part of the package.
  11. Trying out different effects can be fun during the video editing process, but don’t go too crazy. A simple, clean editing style usually looks the most professional.

A few things you can do during the editing stage include:

  • Using noise cancelling to clean up any background noise
  • Adjusting the lighting a little if you need to
  • Cutting out awkward pauses and silence
  • Adding background music and transitions.

Important information

All videos submitted as part of Families are First must include a copyright slide at the end that contains:

  • Title of your video
  • Copyright symbol
  • Your name and the year.

Any music you include must either be an original piece you created or royalty-free, which you can find on some internet music sites.

You can record your story like with the film option but without the camera. You can also choose photographs or other images, like a piece of artwork that can be used with your recording.

Here are tips for using audio to record your yarn:

  • If using a phone or tablet, most come with a voice recording app installed. There are also many other free recording apps available that may offer more features.
  • If you have a microphone, place it in the right position – not too close so that it distorts the sound and not so far that you can’t hear it.
  • Relax and speak slowly enough so it is easy for the audience to take in what you are saying.
  • Practice recording yourself talking and play it back to help you feel comfortable speaking into a recorder and hearing what sounds natural.
  • If reading a script, use words that are easy to say and sound more like a conversation.
  • Choose the quietest room possible. If possible turn off anything that creates ambient noise such as air conditioners, fans and computers etc.
  • Use editing software at the end to fix background noise and sound quality, and add music.  Just make sure it is royalty-free!    

Writing a story is another great way to connect with an audience and share your wisdom. 

You could also use photographs or other images to put with your words.

Read these tips to get started:

  • Narrow your focus by choosing a topic or theme that will allow readers to understand you on a deeper level. You don’t need to tell your whole life story, you can choose to talk about a moment or series of moments around a theme. This could be a joyful event such as giving birth or a challenge like overcoming an addiction.
  • Carefully choose what to leave in and what to cut out by asking ‘how does this fit with the theme?’
  • Say it simply by cutting content down into easily digestible bites.
  • Tell the truth as seen through your eyes. Your story is enough and there is no need to exaggerate or bend the truth.
  • Create an emotional journey for the reader by showing how you felt about key events.
  • Have a strong takeaway message or reflection. This could be an observation about what family means to you, a lesson learned through experience, or a pearl of wisdom about child-rearing.
  • When you finish, edit in stages. The first draft is a chance to explore your story and figure out what it is about. The second draft is for major changes in the structure and for getting clear on the key ideas. The third draft is for polishing.

You may have a piece of your own original art (painting, drawing, photograph, song or music) which tells an important story about your family. You could write or record the story of this piece, called a ‘didactic’.

Artwork can take on different meanings to different people. With a written description you can give the audience an idea of what it means to you and why you created it.

Read on for some hints to help you write a didactic:

  • Keep it short so you give enough information to understand where you are coming from. A few sentences or a couple of paragraphs is a good guide.
  • Choose language that is clear and concise to make it easy to read.
  • Talk about the story behind the artwork and how this connects to the theme of family.
  • You could reflect on some or all of these questions:
  1. What inspired you to create the artwork?
  2. What visual characteristics did you use and how do these create meaning? For example lines, colours, shapes, textures, space and movement.
  3. What is your style of art?
  4. How does this artwork make you feel?

All stories must be submitted using the online form.

Before you start completing the form make sure everything is ready to go because you can't save the information on the form and come back later.

Some things which are really important to know:

  1. Is your story in the right format? MP4, WAV, Word & Pdf docs, JPEGs are preferred
  2. Write a brief description of what your story is about.
  3. Do you have permission to show the images of other people?
  4. Also try to make sure you don't use people's last names, especially children under 18 years.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions before you submit your story.

The Families are First project team will review stories which are submitted and may contact you if something needs to be clarified or changed.

You will be notified when your story is ready to go live.