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As it’s National Storytelling Week, we thought we’d share some thoughts from our Content Director about how your presentation can be transformed through the art of great storytelling.
Storytelling has become a buzzword in the public-speaking arena. In theory, a speaker becomes more relatable if they reveal a bit about themselves, and a personal story here and there is a nice technique.
The real storytellers though make their entire speech a story, with the audience at the centre of it.
The Hero’s Journey is a classic narrative in 12 steps, used in countless tales from Shakespeare to Spielberg. By grasping the first 5 steps, you can create great spoken content.
1. The Ordinary World
This is where we meet our hero for the first time. A speaker has to realise an important thing: YOU ARE NOT THE HERO, the audience is. They’re the ones who must go on an adventure, and discover new things. Don’t worry, your role comes up later.
Our hero is living their life blissfully unaware that an adventure awaits. Think Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs, not knowing he’s a wizard. That’s your audience, living their life unaware of the power that lies within them. You’re about to change all that.
So do your research on your audience. Gain some insight into how they feel in the ordinary world so you can tailor your approach to the next section.
2. The Call to Adventure
Our hero quickly finds there’s a life outside, that new adventures are possible. It’s when Neo finds out about the Matrix, or when Steve Jobs told the Apple conference they were going to make the world’s thinnest laptop. It’s the moment when you as a speaker tell the audience that you are striving for better.
3. Refusal of the Call
It’s hard to discover that life is about to change. The most natural thing is to refuse, most people don’t like change. This is the point where your audience are finding fault with what you’re saying, all the pitfalls and dangers that they will encounter if what you’re saying is true. They need some reassurance, and they need it fast.
4. Meeting the Mentor
This is your big moment, the role you’ve been rehearsing for. Having told your audience that their perfect world is about to change, and recognised that it will be hard to do it, you must assuage their fears by becoming their mentor. You are Obi-Wan Kenobi training them in the ways of the Jedi. With your help, anything is possible. Lay out your plans for a better world, how you’ll get there, and what you need your audience to do to come on the journey with you.
5. Crossing the Threshold
Having taken a journey of challenge, fear, and hope, it’s time for the exciting part, acceptance. Your arguments for accepting the challenge have been so compelling that the audience wants to come on the adventure with you, to skip off down the Yellow Brick Road knowing that there are allies, enemies and ordeals ahead of them, but that the reward at the end will be worth it.
When you write a presentation, it’s worth starting here. What do you want your audience to do when they leave? What’s their first action? What reward will they see if they come on the journey?
Bearing this simple structure in mind when you’re designing your spoken content can really enrich the audience experience, helping you achieve great engagement and response, and maximising the impact of that precious time in front of an audience.