Step Two: Mapping The Perspectives And Values Of Audiences

One thing that most of us can agree upon these days is that polarization is intensifying at an alarming pace. It’s hard to imagine how we can solve tough social problems without having people from different perspectives connect and listen to each other. At Active Voice Lab, we look at public-opinion polling to understand the values that people hold around an issue, and then help our partners think about how a story can catalyze new awareness and even action.


Some advocates on an issue are described as “preaching to the choir, and indeed, some stories are excellent at rallying allies.” Our “Beyond the Choir” process helps you map out your audiences—the natural allies in your “choir,” the potential collaborators beyond the choir, and the long-shots way beyond the choir.

guiding questions to help jumpstart your Beyond the Choir map

Who are the people who share your point of view? What do you hope they will do after they see or hear the story? How will that benefit others in the Ecosystem of Change?
Do you seek to engage people with slightly different or undecided perspectives? How about those who have mixed feelings? Be specific in this middle category; it’s where many possibilities for coalitions and movement-building are hatched.
Or are you determined to tackle polarization head-on by opening up conversations with those who hold opposing views? Do you have the entry points and resources to take this step?

Targeting Audiences Through A "Values" Lens

Beyond the Choir is particularly important for nuanced stories. By revealing the values that motivate characters, underlie plots, drive narrative twists, and exemplify transformations, this exercise helps viewers think critically about our world today and connect with others on a human level. These encounters might not present easy answers, but then again, bridge-building is rarely tidy, and social change is never a snap. Beyond the Choir encourages you to think about individual people, not about their affiliations; that is where unexpected connections get made.



Pictured left: From I Learn America by Jean Michel Dissard and Gitte Peng.


As you progress through the ACTivate process, circulate your worksheet among colleagues, key allies, and other members of your Ecosystem. What values will resonate and what kinds of people do they think will respond to the story? This exercise will help you define your target audiences and how you hope to reach them.



Pictured right: Creatives and social entrepreneurs at Sundance/Skoll’s Stories of Change workshop share their values and visions.


See Horticulture. Active Voice Lab’s metaphor for defining and articulating how stories can measurably contribute to social change and movement building.