Build Narrative Into Your Presentations

Lesson 4/7 - Paint a Picture with Words


Build Narrative Into Your Presentations


Lesson Info

Paint a Picture with Words

All righty. So, our next lesson is about adding detail, color to your story. We've talked about, in other classes, specifics and details in language and the way that you present yourself, but in this particular lesson, we're gonna do an exercise called advance and color where we're gonna work on painting a picture with words. So, it's a very simple exercise, and all I need is one volunteer to jump up here. And Kimberly and I are-- Yeah. actually going to do this with you and kinda play sidekicks and side coaches at the same time. So maybe someone that hasn't been up in a little while. It's a very, very easy-- It's fun. exercise, and it's gonna teach us how to add a little bit more detail to what we're saying. Oh, yes, Irina, thank you. Irina, give her a round of applause. (applause) Come stand here with us. And how about you get right here in the middle of us. We got you. So the way that this works, we have the props up there as well, is you're gonna tell us one of ...

your go to stories, maybe a story that you, you know, you know pretty well. So you're not gonna be searching for the story. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to, you know, be the most entertaining story you can think of. It's just something you're familiar with in terms of, you know, what it's about and where it goes. So what you're gonna do is just tell that story, and we're gonna play different roles. One of the roles is color. So color is going to be what Kimberly is going to say to you when she wants more information. So for an example, I think earlier, Jared was actually in his portkey story, talking about car, and just for the sake of time, remind me what that car was. 2008 Honda Accord. Great. So instead of saying car-- Gray, it was gray. It was a gray, beat up. Yeah, great. Wow. Now you're adding more. I remember. No, I remember him saying gray. I see it, I'm inside of it now. (laughs) But, instead of saying car, he said a gray, beat up, 2008 Honda Accord. So, that's an example of adding color. It can be literal color, like gray, or it can be coloring the object itself with more detail. Detail, yeah. He gave it, you know, some sort of condition. It's beat up. Yup. He gave it, you know, a color, he gave it some sort of age-- A year or model, yeah. Based on what year it came out. So, that's a great example that I wanted to pull from someone's story they had already used. So, when she says color, you're just going to add. And Kimberly may keep saying color and wanting more and more, and you're gonna keep doing that until I say advance. And when I say advance, that means great, got it, love it, keep going. I'm not saying that's enough, I'm bored, be quiet please. No. You just have to move. It's just saying, you've done a... It's basically me complimenting you, and saying, you've done a wonderful job of adding color to that detail, and now I want to know what comes next in the story. So that's what we're gonna do. Does that make sense to you? Do you have a story in mind? Yeah. All right, perfect. Exciting. So, could we get, booth, two minutes on the clock, please? Oh, only two minutes (laughs). We're gonna see. We'll see. We're just gonna see, I just want a time. That a guide for us, not a, this doesn't mean we can't keep it past. Yeah, we just want a time box. We could put another two minutes on if we need it. But don't worry about the timing, I just want a time box for our sake. Okay. So, whenever you're ready, tell us a story. She's gonna color, I'm gonna advance, you're gonna tell the story. Okay. One of the most common questions I'm being asked is when I decided to do photography and how long I've been doing photography. And when I dig deep in my memory, figuring out when exactly it came to me, I remember two things. First is that my dad was the amateur photographer-- Oh, color. Cameras were around-- About dad, dad, add color. Around the house. He was a very technical person and he knew all the nooks and details and technicalities about the cameras, about the processing, about the print, and this is what he wanted to teach me, and he was explaining me all those numbers that didn't make sense to me at all. He was explaining me all the differences in holes and apertures and all those things, which also were kind of scary, but I still wanted to do that and very often when we were traveling as a family, he would take the camera, he would take photos, but he was also encouraging me to take photos-- Advance. and he was always printing those, insistent on printing those photos so I would see the results of my attempts. And when I was about nine years old, he got me a camera, which was kind of like semi-automatic, that would eliminate the need of all the memorization of the technical stuff that I was struggling at the moment, but at the same time time, it gave me the ability of being creative and look around myself and finding what I wanted to see in my pictures Oh, detail, color. And, I was doing the pictures. They were not exciting in terms of color (laughter) because, sorry. Because, at that time in that place, the materials that we were working on were pretty poor quality. Oh, color. That it was-- The quality. In the Soviet Union, and it was the very poor film itself, it was very poor printing abilities, but I remember the moment when I understood that photography is actually my medium of expressing myself, and that was the moment when I was walking to my grandma, and it was an open space, and it was the moment just before the sunset when the sky was kind of, like, pinkish and goldish, and I saw this cloud formation in the sky, which struck my imagination, it just, beautiful. And I realized that this is something that I would like to keep to myself as a memory-- Advance. But... (sighs) (laughter) I would not be able to do it with the painting, and the photography would be the way of memorizing that because it's capturing the moment before it changes, and this is how I start exploring photography more as the medium of expressing my emotions and my vision. Yeah! Give her a round of applause. (applause) Irina, thank you so much. Oh, I love that. Take a seat. That was beautiful. It's beautiful. Wow. Well, you did a fantastic job of adding detail and color, so there weren't a lot of opportunities for us to jump in, and you did a great job of progressing, but we were there as kind of like, almost like bumper rails. Yeah. But, how did it feel to have someone on your left saying "color" when she wanted more detail and someone on your right saying "advance" when he wanted you to move forward? Um, on one side, it was helpful, especially asking for more details. Because, for me, it meant that you're really interested in my story and you want to know more of what I want to tell. Because when I'm saying the stories, always, it's like how much I should be telling in my story before it gets boring for everyone, so that more color is, yes, you are interested in what I'm saying. But, at the same time, because it's a true story, when Sammy was jumping with advance, it's just like, wait, I'm not finished with my sentence yet (laughs). Which is kind of a little bit rushed, but at the same time it's always showing that, it's like having two different people with the two temperaments next to me. One wants to stay here and know more detail, and the other one is very impassioned to know what's going to happen next. But it was interesting. Yeah, it's essentially having co-pilots, if you will, or also co-editors on the fly. You're writing, you're telling the story. This person is saying, "I need more", this person is saying, "Keep telling the story", and while you can do that with a partner, like we just did, it's also something you can effectively do yourself. So, we encourage all of you in the studio, and everyone at home, as well, to try this. There's two great ways to do it. One way is just do what you just did with a partner, or speak and record yourself, and then kind of decide when you need to advance and when you need to add color. But I think a really great way to do this, too, is if you're someone that actually writes out your talks, and you have a script, or maybe you are a writer. I know we have a writer, and maybe multiple writers in the room right now. This is a very effective exercise for someone who puts pen to pad, or, you know, uses their computer to kind of put their talks together. Because you can see there, like how many times did you just say, it your talk, "car", and you need to go into more great detail. And so finding those different places where there's particularly a noun that needs to be described a little bit more. Obviously, we all know what a noun is, but like when it's a person, I wanted to know so much more about your dad, you know, like, oh, what did he look like? What was his name? Those are things that I wanted. It doesn't mean you have to tell me, it's just as the listener, I wanted to know because I was curious, I don't know him. And then find those things on the page that look like they could have a little bit more detail put into them, and that'll be a great way for you to use that either on your feet in the on your feet first draft, or if you are someone who goes and sits down and actually writes things out. But we've definitely had people that we've coached doing this, where they're giving a talk. And then giving them the prompts to go back and watch that talk, and you know, in the rehearsal process, and notice, like, all I said was picture. Oh, I do want to tell them what that picture looked like, I do want to give more detail. And I think there were moments, especially where I think we could all see you seeing the thing. It's the same thing that happened with portkey, where we get to relive those moments with the person, so I think that as you're watching yourself in a rehearsal, even, going through that and you notice there's a moment where you're visualizing something and you can see the movie in your head, that's a great moment to share that vision with us, and paint a picture with words, and really let us be a part of that picture. It's so fun when you get to have that emotional connection with someone who's telling you something that they remember, or giving you that detail so you can be, really be there with them. Yeah, and I'll just end this little lesson with a personal story from one of our clients that used this exercise. They're someone we were working with that works for a software company that makes a photography software, and they were actually launching a new product and there was a huge press tour they had to do and he was extremely nervous about sitting down with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and all these different press representatives. And what he was demoing was this photography software, but what was in the demo were his real photos, but I didn't know that until we played this exercise, and once I learned that these were actually photos he took and was manipulating, and he was adding color and advancing, the pitch and the overall talk took on a completely different, you know, feeling, and it became so much more personal because the nature of this presentation was he was just sitting down at a table, while reporters just recorded what he said, and it just changed it completely. It just changed it completely because what he was doing, was just saying, "And in this photo, you can see that, "you know, I made it a little bit darker." But once you realize he took that photo, and what kind of a day he was having that day, and why he took it, it just made it more personal and it made it more engaging for everyone listening.

Class Description

When you watch a movie, read a book or even listen to a song, what’s the thing that draws you in? The story. By framing what you want to express within a narrative, you help people better understand, follow and care about what you’re saying.

Infusing stories in all of your business communications—from presentations to meetings to casual interactions—will get your colleagues to really listen to what you’re saying. They’ll also enjoy listening to you and never find you boring.

This class will help you develop ways to structure, create and explore narrative. We’ll use tried and true improvisational techniques as well easy, practical and applicable tools. By the end, you’ll be able to mesmerize your audiences and have them hanging on your every word.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Connect with others through story.
  • Use a story spine to craft your story, give it definition and develop mission visions.
  • Explore different ways to add story to everything you present and share.
  • Personalize your content so you can ease your nerves and establish deeper connections with your audience and colleagues.
  • Avoid presentations that are too long or too short, rambling, overly technical, and either too high level or too complex.
  • Conquer your stage fright by weaving in a familiar story so you can connect to yourself more deeply and feel a sense of calm on stage.
  • Inspire and engage your audience with a great hook that’s never boring.