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FinCon 15: Engage Your Audience With The Best Storytelling Techniques

FinCon 15: Engage Your Audience With The Best Storytelling Techniques

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Being able to tell a great story is something every barman and barmaid treasures. But, doing it online and keeping your audience engaged throughout 1,000+ words of your ramblings can be a much for difficult task. From a Moth Grandslam alum and regular contributor to top-tier publications, pull up a barstool for this chat on how to keep your readers engaged and leave them feeling enlightened by PolicyGenius CEO, Jennifer Fitzgerald. If nothing else, you're sure to be a better storyteller to your new FinCon friends by the end of the night.

We will breakdown the three components storytelling including:

- The Basics (decide on your tone in-advance, keep it short and don't bore us all)

- Advanced Techniques (just like training for The Moth)

- Extra Pro-Level Tips (finally, here are some optional techniques that can help you turn a “ha ha, that’s cute” story into a "that’s awesome!” story).

Being able to tell a great story is something every barman and barmaid treasures. But, doing it online and keeping your audience engaged throughout 1,000+ words of your ramblings can be a much for difficult task. From a Moth Grandslam alum and regular contributor to top-tier publications, pull up a barstool for this chat on how to keep your readers engaged and leave them feeling enlightened by PolicyGenius CEO, Jennifer Fitzgerald. If nothing else, you're sure to be a better storyteller to your new FinCon friends by the end of the night.

We will breakdown the three components storytelling including:

- The Basics (decide on your tone in-advance, keep it short and don't bore us all)

- Advanced Techniques (just like training for The Moth)

- Extra Pro-Level Tips (finally, here are some optional techniques that can help you turn a “ha ha, that’s cute” story into a "that’s awesome!” story).

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FinCon 15: Engage Your Audience With The Best Storytelling Techniques

  1. 1. Engage Your Audience with the Best Storytelling Techniques
  2. 2. 1. Keep it short
  3. 3. Less is more…have a single purpose
  4. 4. 2. Don’t forget basic story structure: *Setup *Conflict *Resolution
  5. 5. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally___.
  6. 6. 3. Don’t dwell on the dreaded forgotten details
  7. 7. Nobody cares: • If her name was Barbara or Joyce • Whether she worked in payroll or accounting • If you saw her in a Chilis, or no wait, was it Applebees?
  8. 8. 4. Keep it moving
  9. 9. Deliver story value every 15-20 seconds
  10. 10. 5. Don’t “Kanye” your story
  11. 11. Ask yourself: would I root for myself in this story?
  12. 12. 6. Use humor competently
  13. 13. No
  14. 14. Try this original joke formula: List of 3 {zig, zig, zag}
  15. 15. McDonald’s will not serve breakfast late. There are no other rules, though. Homeless guy living in the bathroom? Cool. People throw up in line? Cool. But two minutes late? No eggs.
  16. 16. I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember… …their name, …or how you met …or why they’re dead
  17. 17. 7. Have an ending
  18. 18. End with a: Comeuppance or Twist or Lesson learned or
  19. 19. 1. Keep it short 2. Don’t forget basic story structure 3. Avoid the dreaded forgotten details 4. Keep it moving 5. Don’t “Kanye” your story 6. Use humor competently 7. Have an ending
  20. 20. Thank you!

Notas do Editor

  • I’m Jennifer Fitzgerald and I’m a storyteller. I tell stories when I blog; I tell stories on stage in NYC; I tell a story when I pitch investors for my company. And here’s what I’ve learned over the years about good storytelling in a few easy rules.
     
  • I do storytelling competitions. And you have 5 minutes to tell your story and wow the audience who votes for you. I’ve seen people tell epic stories about getting stabbed or fighting cancer in 5 minutes. You can tell your story in 5 minutes.
     
  • The easiest way to keep yourself on track is to have your single purpose: is it to entertain? To persuade? To inform? Don’t try to accomplish too many things in your story. Have one purpose and stick to it.
     
  • Probably the biggest mistake you see with bad storytellers is no structure. Every good story has an arc, which is a basic 3-part structure – setup, conflict and resolution. Most amateur stories just have endless setup and context setting, with no real action.
  • The storyboard artist at Pixar Studios said all good stories can be reduced to this structure. Finding Nemo, The Godfather, Dude Where’s My Car – those stories can all be reduced to this structure. If you’re having trouble finding your story arc, try filling in these blanks.
     
  • Think about how your mom tells stories. She’s in the middle of telling you a story and then the story grinds to a halt with “wait a second, did your father and I go on that cruise in July? Or no, was it August?”
     
  • Context details are not important. If the detail isn’t critical to the story, and you can’t remember it exactly, just commit to one and move on. Pick a month; pick a name and just keep moving. And if it’s really unimportant – then just skip it altogether!
  • Good storytelling is like verbal bobsledding. It’s gotta maintain a brisk pace and bonus points if it feels a bit reckless at times. A slow plodding pace is the kiss of death and you’re going to lose your audience, no matter how juicy the story.
     
  • The rule in standup comedy is that you want to get a laugh every 15 seconds; that’s because the average attention span is 15 seconds. So the same rule applies in storytelling. It doesn’t have to be a laugh every 15 seconds, just something interesting to your audience.
  • A story where you start awesome and end awesome is not a story, that’s bragging. There has to be change in a story. You can start awesome, but you can’t end that way. And vice versa. You have to be a protagonist that people root for.
     
  • Nobody wants to hear about the quarterback taking the head cheerleader to the prom and they got crowned prom king and queen. Yawn. But everybody wants to hear about how they got diarrhea at the prom b/c they had a bad meal at red lobster beforehand.
     
  • When you’re telling a story live, there’s no better feeling than getting that first laugh. You relax, and it opens up a new level of storytelling for you. Even if it’s a sad story, you can slip some levity in there.
  • But please, please, whatever you do don’t be the millionth guy to say “that’s what she said” or whatever tired catchphrase nobody wants to hear anymore. Just don’t. It’s lazy and it’s not funny. Ok, so what to do if you can’t quote Anchorman?
     
  • Try this reliable joke structure: It’s the list of 3 that’s expected, expected, unexpected. And that unexpected thing gets the laugh. Once you recognize it, you’ll see it everywhere: in roasts, toasts, standup. Modern Family uses this structure a lot. Let’s look at a few examples
     
  • The most overlooked part of a good story is the ending. Amateurs will get caught up in a great setting or a great conflict and then just let it fizzle it with something like “so yeah that was awesome.” don’t make that the lasting impression!
     
  • You’ve worked too hard on the story to go out like that. Pick one of these reliable endings. And if it’s a killer story like my favorite movie, “Trading Places,” you can do all 3.
  • Or, if your purpose is informative, you can end with a helpful recap for your audience, as I’m doing here. Again this was storytelling 101. Master these tips and you’re well on your way to becoming a storytelling pro.
  • Thank you, Charlotte!

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