Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Story tutorials for speakers: 4 smart lessons

Storytelling's a critical skill for today's speaker. A story well-told can do more to put your big idea across than all the slides and handouts in the universe. But it takes practice and planning to tell good stories.

Fortunately, I've found four smart lessons for you, all unique takes on storytelling that will help you ponder the possibilities. From Africa's listening culture to the science behind why we tell stories, here's a quartet of resources to advance your storytelling skills:

What listening contributes to storytelling

Novelist Henning Mankell moved to Africa to experience living outside western culture, and learned that listening is a lost art, one that's essential to storytelling. Listen to what he says: "In Africa listening is a guiding principle. It's a principle that's been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world, where no one seems to have the time or even the desire ot listen to anyone else." A thoughtful read that incorporates great stories.

Sometimes, writing kills stories

Take it from a professional writer: Sometimes, wanting to write and polish your story ruins it. She recommends learning to use methods like those of The Moth storytelling events, including making sure of your characters, arc, description, dialogue and voice. Among The Moth's top reminders: Its stories "are told, not read." Put that pencil down and read this one.

The science of why we tell stories

At the World Science Festival, a lively discussion about why humans tell stories looked at everything from how your brain "lights up" when you hear a good tale to how we learn more about ourselves through sharing stories.

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Storytelling with slides

Yes, it's possible. SlideShare recently featured Samantha Starmer, who directs the eCommerce Customer Experience at REI, as well as her presentation (below) on structuring your presentation in story-form.