At the most fundamental level, a story has 2 components:
- Someone wants something (Desire)
- There are obstacles (Conflict)
A story requires a conscious hero… story is bigger than cause -> effect. Science looks for cause -> guaranteed effect. Stories are Cause -> Human Decision/Doubt/Excuses… Commitment -> Effect. The powerful part of a story is how the human (or humanised entity) discovers greater strength than previously imagined… what is interesting in the story is how the human changed though the process.
A story of climbing Everest, is not about the mountain. It is about the human experience of dreaming, doubting, suffering, giving up, re-committing, growing, receiving help, overcoming…
How to Become a Better Storyteller
Step 1: Commit to the Journey
Step 2: Write stories down, write thoughts down, write ideas down. What are the formative moments of your childhood? Who are the people who have made the greatest impact on you? When have you failed? When have you given up? When did you stay the course even though everyone doubted? What obstacles have you overcome? What are your dreams? Look up Aesop’s fables… I love those ancient stories. Myths and legends… Odysseus, the greek myths… these are truly human stories.
Step 3: Share them… in tweets, in blogs, in videos, in short stories, in poems. At toastmasters, at Rotary, in industry associations, in clubs. The hundredth time you tell the story it will be better than the tenth time, which will be better than the third time, which will be better than the first time.
More on the Blog: Telling Great Stories
- Seven Step to the Perfect Story
- Video: What is a Story?
- What is a Story: article
Kevin Spacey talks about 3 ingredients of compelling stories:
- Conflict – there must be obstacles in the path of the hero
- Authenticity – the story must feel real
- Audience – a speaker is not a speaker without an audience (just some crazy man shouting at a wall) – feed the hunger for wisdom, for real experience and for connection of an audience and you will have them.
Kevin Spacey’s 3 elements to a Compelling story
The Power of the Oral Storyteller
The greeks had two ways of considering time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is the time that is measured by clocks… one minute is one minute.
Kairos time is moments where the universe hinges on what happens in this given moment. Movies expand the time of significant moments to enhance the emotional impact. A great storyteller is generating Kairos… a sense that there are moments that have a deeper, greater meaning that most minutes of the day.
When I teach… there is no recipe… we go through exercises to see what this Kairos experience feels like… once the speaker and the audience have experienced this ability… they get it. I have never been able to explain my way to understanding… only by guiding the way and allowing participants to try out new ways of speaking… and when it happens… they will never return to speak the old way again.