Storytelling is the heart of improv, an artform that’s near and dear to me. It’s also at the heart of how humans have communicated and processed information for centuries, something many events professionals believe has a great influence on their work.
Recently I took an improv workshop taught by the amazing J.D. Walsh that, not only will permanently change the way I do improv, but I believe has great lessons for presenters and event planners.
You may be familiar with Joseph Campbell, who first identified the Hero’s Journey in 1987. He delineated seventeen stages in this journey. But J.D. referred us to his friend Dan Harmon , an award-winning comedy writer, Executive Producer of the hit TV show, Community and an improvisor himself who writes a blog on story structure. Harmon has boiled it down to 8 words:
You see this structure in all of the classic tales, including such hit movies as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. For his students, J.D. boiled it down a little further, teaching us to construct our scenes by:
*starting positive with relationships
*revealing something that drastically changes the established situation
*reacting to what’s been revealed (as in Oscar-winning moment)
*possibly another reveal and another reaction
*with characters in the end being changed from how they were in the beginning.
Audiences recognize and crave these kinds of stories. Why? On his blog, Harmon puts it this way:
“(O)ur survival as individuals and as communities is dependent on recognizing the edible, nutritious ones. Information can be “empty calories,” like a phone book, or it can be downright “poisonous,” like a Superbowl halftime show, a Madonna video or footage of a man blowing his brains out.”
‘(I)f you don’t occasionally eat real story food . . . you are going to wither away and die, psychologically, spiritually and socially speaking’
“The right kinds of poison can get you high and help you have fun, but it’s getting you high because it’s (messing) with you, it’s killing you, and if you don’t ocassionally eat real story food – a dramatic game of football where your favorite team wins, a meaningful conversation with friends you trust, a good book, a good movie, a good TV show, witnessing a life being saved at the public pool – you are going to wither away and die, psychologically, spiritually and socially speaking.”
How does this relate to presenting? If the story you are telling lacks structure you will certainly lose your audience. However, if you build your story with these elements in mind, it’s very difficult to go wrong – take it from one who has to make stories up on the spot. No matter what the subject, a story with this kind of structure has a much better chance of engaging and satisfying your audience, thereby helping them to remember your content.
Posted with permission of Jenise Fryatt. To read the rest of this post, please click here http://icon-presentations.com/blog/bid/25844/The-hero-s-journey-and-your-conference-or-presentation
(Photo by Jerry)