Rating: 5 / 10
In some ways, I really enjoyed this book. In others, not so much. I've never been much for storytelling. But that's why I read this book. I think it's an important ability to have. It helps present your point of view and your stories to other people. It helps you become more engaging. That's not a bad quality to have.
No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.
— Daniel Kahneman
Tell your own story, not the story of others.
Stories are personal narratives. True stories told by the people who lived them.
A few requirements to ensure that you are telling a personal story:
Your Story Only
The Dinner Test
The audience wants stories they can connect to.
To generate stories, ask yourself at the end of each day what story the day held: "If I had to tell a story from today — a five-minute story onstage about something that took place over the course of this day — what would it be?
Crash & Burn
It's an exercise of stream-of-consciousness writing. "dreaming on the end of your pen"
This allows you to generate old ideas and resurrect old memories.
Apply these three rules:
Don't get attached to any idea.
Don't judge any idea or thought that appears in your mind
The pen cannot stop moving.
This is also a daily exercise. Do it daily.
First Last Best Worst exercise
Label the top row (x-axis) of a page with the words "First", "Last", "Best", and "Worst" along with a column labeled "Prompts" to the leftmost side. The prompts are listed on the y-axis. The prompts are the possible triggers for memories.
Fill in some prompts and fill out the rest of the cells. For example, what was your first kiss? Your best kiss? Worst kiss? And so on.
After completing the chart, analyze it. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Mark potential stories with an S. Anecdotes with an A.
The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.
— Steve Jobs
Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.
— Ancient proverb
"All great stories — regardless of length or depth or tone — tell the story of a five-second moment in a person’s life."
If you don't have a five-second moment, you don't have a story.
You know the ending of your story now. Your five-second moment is the most important thing you will say, so it should be as close to the end of your story as possible.
How, then, do you find the beginning?
The beginning of your story should be the opposite of the end. Find the opposite of your transformation, revelation, or realization. This is where your story should start.
Start as close to the end as possible.
Your stories should be simple. When telling stories, your audience cannot just jump out and back in again. It's like a river — always flowing. Make it easy to catch up if they fall off.
Practical tips for choosing an opening
Try to start your story with forward movement whenever possible.
Don't start by setting expectations.
Stakes are the reason an audience wants to hear your next sentence. They're what makes a story compelling.
Five strategies to infuse a story with stakes
Every story must have one. It's the thing everyone can see. Large and obvious. It's the clear statement of the need, the want, the problem, the peril, or the mystery. It signifies where the story is headed.
It tells the audience what to expect. It gives them a reason to listen.
It should appear as early as possible. In the first minute or 30 seconds is best.
They can change color — the need, want, problem, peril, or mystery stated in the beginning can change along the way.
Increases the stakes of the story by increasing the audience's anticipation about a coming event.
It's when a storyteller loads up the audience with all the storyteller's hopes and fears in that moment before moving the story forward.
It's an attempt to
Backpacks are most efficient when a plan does not work.
Only lie for the benefit of your audience. Never for personal gain.
Memory is slippery. No story is entirely true. That's OK.
Never add anything to the story that wasn't already there. You can manipulate it in many ways, but never add something that wasn't there.
Compressing your story to a smaller timeline is fine.
Changing the order of events to make the story better.
Rather than describing change over a period of time, you can compress it a bit.
Always provide a physical location for every moment of your story.
Your goal is always to create a cinematic experience in the minds of your listeners.
Use "but" and "therefore" (or synonyms) to connect elements of your story.
Using "and" provides no momentum.
The negative is almost always better than the positive when it comes to storytelling. It's better to say what someone is not.
The goal of storytelling is to connect with your audience.
Big stories can get in the way of connecting. Not everyone can relate to your insane stories.
We cry because of surprise.
You need to build surprise into your stories.
It's common to ruin surprise. Here are some common mistakes:
Presenting a thesis statement prior to the surprise
Failing to take advantage of the power of stakes to enhance and accentuate surprise
Failing to hide critical information in a story
Hiding the Bomb in the Clutter
Stories should never only be funny. The best ones use humor strategically.
Stories can never be about two things.
You already know the ending of your story: your five-second moment. That's what it's about.
Present tense makes the audience feel that they're with you in the moment.
When you want to tell a success story, there are two strategies you should employ.
Don't attempt to be grandiose about yourself or your success. You have to undermine both you and it.
Why? People love underdogs. And people prefer stories of small steps over large leaps.
So just talk about a small step of your path to success.
Another goal as a storyteller is to make the audience forget that the present moment exists.
But that bubble is easily burst. Here are a few ways to avoid it:
The words you choose will play a part in how the audience perceives you.
Don't swear much.
Sometimes, it's fine to swear:
This is the rule. If you're speaking about a topic that would be awkward to talk about with your parents or grandparents, tread lightly.
When you choose a name, make it similar. That way it's easier to remember. (Sally becomes Sandy)
Don't do it. Don't refer to celebrities.
You'll alienate those who don't know who you're talking about.
It breaks your time-travel bubble. If you say someone looks like x, people will imagine that person there.
And it's just lazy.
It's hard to be authentic and vulnerable when you're reciting lines. Memorize these 3 parts: