Build Narrative Into Your Presentations

Lesson 7/7 - Present Like an Improviser


Build Narrative Into Your Presentations


Lesson Info

Present Like an Improviser

So we want you to present like an improviser. And Sammy, you may need to speak to this a little bit because this is actually the show that you created from whence we came. So will you tackle this a little? For like a minute or less about the show? Sure. So Speechless as a company started as a show called Speechless Live five years ago in San Francisco, and the premise of the show is people from the business world and people from the entertainment world get up and improvise presentations that they've never seen before. And they are scored and judged by a dais of judges and the audience as well, and we choose a winner who gives the best presentation within that show. And that's essentially what you're about to do. You're going to get up and you're going to present, I think by committee, or is it one person? Nope we're going to get, if we need five people up, so we need five of you and I do feel like Shui just presented so it seems like the other five people are going to come up and c...

ome on over here, So everyone but Shui should come up, yeah? And I think stand over here is what we decided, right? Okay. And then they'll come into the light to talk. Then I'll go over here. That'd be great. So I do want to tell those of you at home that this is another downloadable so we put a group of slides together so after you see them try this then you can actually try it at home yourself. So here's what's going to happen. We've put together a deck, and we're going to pretend that you have put together this deck. That you've seen it before, that you've seen these slides, you've very carefully curated and thoughtfully put them together intentionally. Right? And you're going to give us a presentation as if that's true. And one of the things we want you to keep in mind is that, actually I think we have a little demo in here for us. I believe there's a demo. Can we demo it for them? Would you mind helping me with that? Okay, sure. So this is the Speechless game, and we're going to show you a real quick, just quick quick here's how to set it up, and then here's how to pass it off. Right? So we're going to talk for a moment, click a slide, And then pass it to the next person. Shui, what is something that you would like to learn more about? What do you wish you knew more about? Maybe making a Thanksgiving dinner. Great. So Sammy and I will do a quick demo a two-slide demo of this. So Shui and everyone else, thank you for being here. We're really excited, Sammy and I have put together a very carefully, thoughtfully curated plan for how to put together a Thanksgiving dinner. And one of the things that we thought was most important was making a list of the ingredients that you need, and then going to the store as a team, and really putting the list, gathering the information together as a team so that you're not spending time in the store. Right? You're really going through. And we think this slide demonstrates that. That what we want you to do is take your creative side of your brain, and really create the dinner. But then when you're in the store, we want you to be on target and on track and just get what you need and go. You don't want to be tempted by anything else that might be there. And Sammy's going to talk to you a little bit more about the process then of making the dinner. Yeah, thank you so much. You got it. Now that you've gotten all those ingredients, you wanna make the perfect recipe to blow people away, and also show people that you are a local here in the Bay Area. And one of my recipes that I like is Sammy's Sourdough San Francisco Stuffing. And here is how everyone feels, This slide is how everyone feels after they have my famous stuffing. They feel like they just found a boom box that fell straight out of the sky. It's like they just got a free gift, and that gift provides them joy, and music, and they feel very big and full, and that's exactly how people are going to feel after they have that stuffing. So I hope you learned a lot about Thanksgiving, and I hope that you'll invite us over. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks for demonstrating that! And then at the end of the slide we'll have a little game over. So one of the things you'll notice is that there will be a slide and then there'll be the blank slide. That's because here in the studio, we can actually see the slide that's coming next. So the idea is that you will talk a little bit, you'll click the slide, you'll incorporate it, in some magical way, you'll talk a little bit more and then you'll pass it to the next person who can click through and get their slide up where they can see it. If you can't see there, it's always okay to turn around and glance back here. Are there any questions? And then after you're done presenting, Should we have them sit back down do you think? Yeah, take a seat. Yeah, great. Thanks for being here. What should we get them to, what's a topic, Sammy, that you want to get from our audience of one? I guess just since we're focused on narrative, maybe just the name of a story. Oh great, what's a story that has never been told, that you would like to hear. The day Joshua ran away. The day Joshua ran away. Right. It's a great story, I know you guys have put a lot of work into telling this story, so I will just give this to you so that you can click through and be ready. Yeah? So here you go. Whoever. I don't know who's talking first, someone come. Who's gonna start our story for us? Everyone looks at me. Yeah, everyone looks at you, great! So you're going to start the story, do you want me to click it for you? This one. No, just the green one. Okay? Yeah, so talk a little bit and then you'll click through. So today I would like to share a story how Joshua ran away. And it's a very special story to my heart because it's something that deeply affected me. So once upon, and then I click whenever? Sure. You're going to see our Speechless slide and then you'll click to your slide and this will be the next slide is your picture. Okay, okay, okay. Once upon a time, a little boy, Joshua was reading a book about the air balloons. Click it one more time so we can see it up here. And he was so excited with this idea that he started bugging his Dad about creating that air balloon. Whenever you're ready you can pass it along. I'm going now. Yay! Yeah, beautiful! And you know with any boy's imagination, the more imagination that he put into the creation of this air balloon, he really wanted to focus on how to get it off the ground. And he thought and he thought and he thought. And he thought if he could only get a cat or a dog and incorporate this, and use their energy, perhaps it could propel him as well into this outer space experience. And Jared's going to take us further. Yeah. Nice set up, nice set up. Thank you Heidi. And Joshua had this deep insight. He was sleeping out under the sky and he realized in his heart that he needed a dog or a cat to help him make his dream come alive. To make this balloon fly. That somehow it would be powered by animals. Somehow. And Joshua, he worked every day at this. Until one day, he realized in his heart that he would have to become a clown. (laughing) He would have to become a clown in order to achieve his destiny. And he would have to be a clown, not just any clown but a very professional clown, in a suit. Because what says, what goes together like a clown mask and a suit? I ask you. Well Joshua realized that that was the answer. Becoming a clown. Yes. It was. It was. And John is gonna tell you about what happens next. Jared, thank you so much. And as Joshua started to feel clownish, he realized that that was what the balloon was all about. It was about escaping his own hot air. And going into new places. And those eyes. Can you believe those eyes? So Joshua knew he had to take this and he had to have a higher purpose. This couldn't just be about him. This couldn't just be about his balloon. And so he knew the next step for him was this. Absolute total trolls. And these trolls in this data, and the dragons of course, and the gremlins, were really about the vision for this underworld. Because it wasn't really about going up. It was about going within. And Alva is going to tell us about that spiritual journey. So as Joshua ran away farther and farther into his adventure, he was delighted with the adventure of running away, and where it would take him. After all he'd been through with the acceleration of animals, the clowning, and the underworld adventure, he had a whole different perspective on life. (laughing) He had a different perspective on where he was going and how to run away perfectly. And that was when acceleration, exploration, became his life. And he was able to actually purr into that experience, and ever since then, life was outer space. (applauds) I feel like we may need to print that story that felt like a great story. Thank you. So am I to understand, hold on. Am I to understand-- Oh boy. That Joshua was like running away from his life and in turn found passion in the act of running away? Yes. Yeah. And that he became an astronaut? The first cat astronaut? A catstronaut. A catstronaut. (laughing) Yes, thank you. That's you. That's all yours. I just said it louder. Obviously. Thank you, Shui. It was a catstronaut. Yes. A lot to take in. It does not make up for Joey Baloney. (laugh) We're getting there though, we're healing those wounds. I thought it was, yeah, I loved. I loved that story. What was that like? We had an audience, well some of us are in the audience, but also the presenters, what was that like? Give us some of that experience? What did it feel like? What did you appreciate? What was scary? Any of those things. Yeah, Irena. I had no clue what to talk about and who Joshua was, and when I was looking at the slide in the back, it seemed to me like a hot air balloon bottom thing and it's only when I saw it here I realized it wasn't like that at all (laugh). And it was great! It was so fun to see your imagination see that, right? So even though it may not be what it was meant to be quote unquote in the slide, that that's what your imagination made it, it sort of lit everybody up. We were excited that that's what you saw and that's what it became, right? And I want to highlight that nobody knew what they were going to talk about, right? Everyone's like, "We're all making it up!" So it was so brave for you to be first and go first and then you got to set the story up. You gave us the character, you gave us a want, right? So you actually did set the story up in this delightful way that everyone then got to "Yes, and". Any other thoughts about that experience? I thought it was fun to do it as a team and that we've gotten to know each other and to sort of trust each other and hand off and introduce each other. Yeah, which is not unlike how a lot of presentations, I mean this was fun and there's application to just learning how to tell a story with others in this exercise, but in the practical application at work, a lot of times the biggest presentations are done by a team, or at least you and another person, maybe you're the project managers, and it's a great exercise for learning how to tell the same story in your own words, but with another person. And to be okay with how they interpret it. As long as you both agree, it's okay that they have a different style and a different voice and you can kind of mesh those together. Yeah, and it was fun to see the "yes, and"ing happening. Alva, were you going to say something? Several things, I felt as though I didn't feel that nervous as I was listening to each of you because it became an adventure. So that was wonderful. And then the other thing I felt is, I kind of, my mind went back to the story spine and I felt as though that was there to help me so all the things you've been offering today just really, were very helpful in terms of making this fun and interesting and an adventure. Excellent, I'm so glad to hear that. And as a reminder, if you're at home there is a downloadable with this, so you can play around with some of these same slides, and some other slides and practice doing this on your own. I think Alva gave us a great segue into the tangible takeaways. Yeah. Let's talk a little bit and debrief. Here is what we said we would do, we would talk about personal stories, we would give you structure, we would play around with painting a picture with words, a little metaphor and simile, and then you got to present like an improvisor! You completely improvised a presentation together. So what are some of those things that you feel like you want to bring to the surface? What are those tangible takeaways from this narrative class? Heidi. The advance in color. I really love that because I get stuck sometimes when I'm telling a story and I don't know how much I'm actually putting into it, and just thinking, okay let's add a little bit more color, nope, let's advance, let's get going. And I really loved that. Great! I'm glad it feels like a useful tool. What are some other takeaways from today for you? Looking for either verbal or visual metaphors and similes even in things that might seem sort of boring in your talk. Yeah, they never are. We're fascinated by each other. Yeah. We're all so interesting. Great, I love that idea. Jared, were you going to say something? Yeah, the contract and expand in terms of time box or in terms of character count, whether it's for an essay or a story. If you have 500 words versus 2000, I thought that's really cool how you can still get to the heart of the story in a minute, or in five seconds. Or 15 seconds. I'm going to take that with me. Yeah, and I think that's an interesting exercise to combine with the advance in color. Is where do I need to pull back on some of the color that I'm giving it? When do I need to advance? Because I have less time, less opportunity, fewer words, whatever that thing is. So being able to use that. Of where is the important places to color, and where are the important places to advance. Or to add that detail. Yeah. I think it'd be great. There are definitely authors that I read, I'm just thinking of Tolkien right now, and like the first 60 pages of the book are color. I love it, but come on Tolkien. (laughing) Not everyone could get away with that! Come on buddy. Excellent. Any other final takeaways? Yeah, a final takeaway from anyone? Well thank you so much! It was fun. I appreciate, I want to give gratitude to the group for continuing just to keep trying and experimenting, but also sharing some of your own stories. Creating stories together but also sharing some of your own. It was really lovely to hear from everyone. I had so much fun, thanks for doing this with me. Yeah. Give yourselves a round of applause, thank you!

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.