The Public Narrative Framework

A simple concept to build community

Good evening friends,

Greetings from Trier!

I'm at my parents and this morning I was watching a video about Svalbard, the northernmost town on earth. The island with roughly 2400 people is the closest to the North pole. One of the people living there is Cecilia. In her videos she talks about the life in the north often with a cup of coffee in front of a cozy tiled stove. Incredibly wholesome.

Anyways, let’s get to todays topic: Crafting public narratives


A method for telling a story in public

In today’s session I’m examining a framework to create a group sense and belonging through storytelling. It’s applicable for teams, content creators or online communities.

It’s a simple exercise that can be tackled with pen and paper. It can be used to shape the narrative of a personal brand, a community, of a small team or a group that comes together.

The framework is a composition of three story elements: Self, us, now. Each element can be described in two or three sentences.

1. The Story of Self

In this part of the exercise we focus on the individual level and examine our individual backstory.

Everyone has an interesting backstory even though we’re wired to think that our story doesn’t matter, that people aren’t interested, that we shouldn’t be talking about ourselves.

This section of the framework helps to proof the opposite and explore our nature with the following questions: What is your backstory? Why made you make the choice you made? What did it teach you? What are your personality traits? What are the topics you’re repeatedly think about?

Instead of thinking what others want to hear this section is about exploring your self and with that later also enabling others to “get you”.

2. The Story of Us

This second part of the framework is about people like us. It’s about getting conscious about which shared identities we take part in.

We are all part of multiple “us’s” – movements, communities, roles, cultures, studies, nations, families, organisations, faiths, generations in which we take participate with others.

In the “story of us” we answer questions like: What shared identity do you consider yourself to be part of, connected with? With whom do you share a common past? With whom do you share a common future?

3. The Story of Now

In the third layer we build upon our self and shared narrative. Here we direct our attention to a current challenge. What is it that bugs us, something that we want to change? What contradicts to our values? What is it that we imagine to be different?

The “story of now” invites an audience, a team or a community to join in taking hopeful action on the pressing challenge. And it transforms the present challenge into shared action and choice.

This last layer is where the group belonging and group sense is created. The high-level narrative is now complete and from here on it can be used to turn public.

There are many concepts to shape a public narrative or create a group sense in a team. I find this simple framework so interesting because it shows how a group sense always starts with the individual, the self. One of the reasons I love when people share in public is because it inspires people like me to take the courage to walk their own path and find likeminded people along the way.


Links I enjoyed this week


Photo of the Month

Holy moly January is already coming to a close. This is a picture of me and Daniel from our strategy days earlier this month. We went to the Veluwe (NL) and spend some some time in a bungalow to reflect and plan ahead for this year.


That’s it from another writing session. I’m so grateful that you look into this. Feel free to reach out to me by just answering to this mail. Thanks for reading along, I truly appreciate it.

Sending big hugs your way,

René