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Heroic Public Speaking

Lesson 15 of 23

Outlining Your Story

Michael Port, Amy Port

Heroic Public Speaking

Michael Port, Amy Port

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Lesson Info

15. Outlining Your Story

Lesson Info

Outlining Your Story

Okay, so here's, what we're doing, you're going to take a couple of minutes and you're gonna outline one of your stories ah story that you use in your presentation that you're working on or an example for those of you doing curriculum based speech is an example that you might give to delineate what it is that you're teaching and you're going to write it out, outline it with a beginning and a middle and an end a situation ah conflict and a resolution now, if you just want to do this for any story cause you're going, I don't know I don't have one in mind you can do that do it as an exercise create a story in that way, but for those of you who are building in more clarity as to what your big idea is which you should all be doing actually don't start yet this is listening started before we start because then you know what happens is an audience you start going, why not understand? But he didn't listen to the instructions so listening instructions first cause there's something else that way...

want to teach you before you start writing? So if it can be pertinent to your through line to your big idea than that's ideal so beginning middle and end in the situation conflict resolution not each one requires the same amount of time you don't have to give the same amount of time to each one situation could be really easy to establish conflicts are generally what the story is filled with and then the resolution could be quite quick so that's the first thing to note now here's the thing one of the big challenges that we often have as presenters as storytellers writers is to come up with stories what stories am I gonna tell? I have no idea so here's how you find stories you think about people that you had in your life you think about places that you've been in your life you think about things that you've had in your life and you think about times in your life so that's people places things and time so when you're working on your material you sit back, you can reflect on people, places, things, times you see what I just did there I repeated it how many times? Three times which gave you time to write it down and also to think about it. So if someone at home because what people doing at home is there watching and they're doing their email, they're watching and they're talking on facebook they're watching and yes, I'm talking about you so which is fine that's great it's not a problem, but you might have heard it while you're doing something else go wait, what did he say so I want to repeat it in case you weren't paying full attention the first time, and the reason this is important to me is because I had trouble learning in a classroom throughout my life very dyslexic, I I cannot take notes and listen at the same time because by the time I've written something down, the teachers already onto the next one, even if they're going slow because it takes me a long time to write it down. And then of course, if I do, I don't know how to spell most of the words that I'm writing, so I just write them is scribble e and then I don't know what I wrote when I go back and look at, so I make an extra emphasis teo really repeat as many times as I can, and I don't know if other people do that as often because maybe they haven't had the experience of sitting in a room and not being able to keep up. If you're very quick with your note very quick in the classroom, you might be very quick is a teacher and blow through it so you may need to step back and say, there's people who learn differently, I better make sure that I'm speaking to their needs as well as mine and yet ramon people, it takes hearing something seven times before we fully take it in so you may want to when you first introduced the concept hit it those three times do the repetition the way that michael just did and then throughout if it's something important for them to get come back to it let's review as you've seen us doing so many times let's go through these again now it also goes through your brain as you're writing it down it goes through your brain as it's coming out of your mouth so those can be some of those seven times but it takes that many times for us to actually actually hold what it is that we heard, so you're gonna have two minutes how many minutes? Two minutes so just jot down notes for your story could be bullet points you're not writing a script per se, but you're just bullet pointing out the situation, the conflict and the resolution and I want you to do this at home two minutes, situation, resolution and conflict and then we will tell you when two minutes are up sound good say as if it does great. So where can you see me if I say you're not you guys, I'm gonna talk to the home audience and you guys, uh we'll keep working what are some of the comments that they're making in the in the chat room or some of the questions that they may have well, yeah, I mean, we can we can do a question right now, everybody else here is writing down, so we had a question as some of the people were trying to do that the improv sketch there you touched on this a little bit, but we have a user who says, how do you increase your creative ideas? It's hard for me to think of these funny stories or good structural contrast activities especially funny? Well, so that may have questions have come in before you did. Yeah, that came in a few minutes ago, so I think you touched on in a little bit, but if there are any other tips about tryingto, I think the trouble that people are having are being funny and now you're not always you don't always need to be so yes, so trying to be funny is generally not funny exactly trying to be funny generally not funny, and there is absolutely no need to be funny. You you are not obligated in some way to be funny if humor presents itself that's great humor usually presents itself out of conflict. And so if you're working on your stories in the way that we're suggesting if you're creating situation a conflict resolution, well, then you might produce some humor if it's a humorous situation humor also is produced as a way of minimizing anxiety so if it's a very difficult story to tell oh you're telling the audience something that is hard for them to hear moving from that contrast into something that's very light can often produce some humor so waded in one of our earlier segments we did the improv where I walked in with a broken leg and she said oh yeah but your hair looks great so you might be telling this story about when you almost died really very, very, very serious story and you know and then maybe you said yeah but you know it's interesting as they were airlifting me in the helicopter I caught my reflection in the window and my hair still a trade so I was really come on you know who knows what it might be but you're trying to find contrast and if if you find contrast that produces some levity great but that's not the goal the goal is to achieve the result that you want to achieve by telling this story is gonna be a point to this story the point of the story is not to tell a joke so these aren't comedians were training the point is what's the point in telling the story? Well, if I'm telling that donkey story the point of the story is if you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass goodbye and instead of just saying you shouldn't try to please everyone because blah, blah, blah I tell this story which is engaging and then happens to also be funny because the story is funny, but here's the thing I didn't write this story, it's an aesop's fable, I just embellished it a little bit. And of course I tell them this is an ace ops, favell, and then I tell them that I embellished it so they don't think I made up this story because it's not something that I made up, right? Okay, cool, that makes sense we have ah, this is actually just a good comment when we were asking people at the top of the show what their biggest takeaways. Where from yesterday's session, this one comes from susan hovey cohen, and she says the biggest takeaway for me yesterday was knowing the audience is always your improv partner. Why did I not remember that before? I love this workshop and I'm so happy to be here love all the great work everyone is doing, yes, exactly right? So if you are an actor on the stage, the people you're performing with are your improv partners are your scene partners in when you're giving a speech? The people in the house are your partners and you're playing with them, so so when they give us feedback, we're in a scene with them great all right think we're good. All right, so you've got some stories down now yeah, so now we're gonna pull a few people on stage to tell their stories sound good seeing as it does on I'm going to start with suit are you my two great where's your mike but there it is. Okay, come on up and only to tell this story you're gonna tell me this story in one minute it's a one minute story uh uh let's see you do in one minute okay? You're on okay? Like so many of you out there and so many business owners that I meet you are stuck with what kind of content to share online and I totally under stand what that's like because when I first started using facebook over seven years ago I had no idea what content to put online and it was my twins that were on there and I wanted to understand how to use the platform I had a retail store I wanted to understand how they make more money pushing traffic into my store so I got on facebook and I put myself out there I was vulnerable I put content on there and I didn't know people gonna like it good now I'm going to stop you now I'm gonna put you right here, okay? And you're going to tell me the senate for the situation really, really quickly tell me the situation without all those details and the kid's got involved because, you know all of a sudden, he said, now you got one minute you should be able to take virtually any story and tell it in one minute or ten minutes, it doesn't matter. You get right to that conflict, the situation right at the beginning, here's the situation had a store, I knew anything about it, the social media I needed to make more money and it was a real problem because you tell him the problem that's a conflict. Now you move over here and move because you were kind of like, yeah, so you move now here's the conflict at the bank. Now, just what guys here's the resolution and move them around like so many business owners, I didn't know how to promote myself online, so I got on facebook. I realized that it was a great tool for my retail store, where I could actually start bringing people in the door in my store, and as soon as I put myself out there started sharing a bit a little bit about myself and the products that I was selling my sales have increased, so there was so much positive reinforcement and actually putting yourself out there, sharing your content, sharing what you're passionate about and really making your mark on line now I'm gonna stop you again so do you guys are you really clear about the situation you were clear about the conflict you feel the story going in a very clear and specific direction yet yeah so what we want again is what's the situation this is no don't go behind that situation with the situation he's gotta be really clear in this situation has got to produce a conflict situation was I had a business and what's the problem you see ok you produce the conflict very quickly I had a business that's all I need to know okay I don't need to know about anything else right now except I had a business and we had this problem okay? And then you tell me a little bit more about the problem or you move into I did this one two or three things to try to solve the problem and here's the result that was produced that's ah good. Okay. All right. I have I have a retail store. Seven years ago I opened up a retail store on cape cod and like every other small business owner I was trying to make more money get more traffic in the door at my store so I got on facebook I had no idea how to use facebook and I realized that it was an amazing tool to connect with my ideal customer and share a little bit about what I was selling and it felt quite vulnerable to put stuff online and I had no idea who is going to be looking at it and how are they going to be responding? But when people started coming in the door and buying products and saying that they saw it online from what I was posting I realized that my efforts were paying off and I started making more money and I started really enjoying social media and understanding the mindset of putting myself out there under stocked okay what do you think about a couple things when you're presenting well no so you're like you're not really committing to moving they're sort of moving a little bit but not fully committing so you're kind of moving a little bit while you're talking and then what happens is your you sometimes stand like this I see more women doing this putting the feet together and they look they don't very grounded and they look a little bit uneasy doesn't look very powerful when I stand this doesn't know so if you're going to stand plant your feet this is fine this is fine, you know but plan your feet if you're gonna move then move and then you'd allows you to relax your body so your body is not trying to do too many different things at once that are not organic, not natural now the other thing is this is not really a story, okay this's the sort of broad overview of why you think social media is great what could make this compelling is a story that is very specific that highlights the idea that highlights the big idea so is there a story about a person that you interacted with that changed your life or their life because of this that's different that's a story that people want to hear this isn't a story that people care about now you might think yes but people care they have a business they don't understand social media they want to do and they want to make money but it's not compelling because they've heard it a million times I put you down you got to think about that all right not put you down like a horse or something you're around okay ah it's going up your story rich alright ok just have about a minute to keep it as short as you possibly can and get uh but yet make it as juicy as you possibly can so as I work with my nonprofit clients email marketing is a big one that they come up with and it's open rates click the rates are dropping to the floor they're not getting the engagement they need which means no money, no volunteers none of the actions the impact they need to make in the world so as I started working my clients are really digging into this what I realized it's the dreaded monthly newsletter it's the monthly newsletter the right so imagine now how you process your inbox you show up at work nine am monday morning already got fifty two emails right you're like oh gosh I got a meeting in thirty minutes I got to get there you start processing for some physical things okay so shuffle do you see this team doing this so we'll stop right yeah little self you so um yeah let's tell my story okay don't worry about anything don't worry about trying to put on a show okay just tell me right so imagine if you will how you process your inbox show up monday morning at work to nine a m you got fifty two e mails and your inbox already you start processing on delete delete delete you come to the email of your favorite nonprofit you love these guys you open up that monthly newsletter what does it have? Ten articles fourteen calls to action has got all this stuff and you're like I'm going to read that later you even market hi important because you're definitely going to read that later right life happens next thing that emails on page to page three you delete it you've never read it but their stats show that you opened it so they think you read it so instead what you want to do is create snack size emails that means instead of one monthly newsletter you send out put the pauses upon in the places that need to land okay okay, so that's one thing tio and then the second thing I want to say mentioned again you gotta watch this especially when you're on camera because the folks at home right now if that camera's just on me here scooch over that camera's just on me right and I'm doing this the people at home are seeing just this seeing the shifts I decide and often you when you're on camera you're shot like this now this is not good for being a space too but it's even worse on camera they start to get a little seasick okay so you just have to watch this okay kind of side to side and I think that's nerves and absolutely kind of what I'm doing now is I'm pushing you guys like this I don't always go like this when I'm worked with you but you have very put time pushed through it right get rid of that crap don't worry about it nobody's judging you there's no like this better be the best story ever created what we're trying to do is we're trying to find the things that are problematic and when I push you fast that's when they come out even more you see excellent yeah good so give it a go all right so what you need to be doing instead of snack size emails instead of that single newsletter that you don't want to write that takes you four months to write that your monthly newsletter goes out every seven weeks instead of eight weeks, you know, etcetera, right? Snack size emails. It's a small piece of content. So we needed there's a beat there, isn't there? Yeah. So there's a? Yeah. There's. A juxtaposition. There's a contrast. So you've been doing this, but what you should do is this p p p p p u c okay, good. Give it. All right. So you have been doing this. So you have been doing that big monthly newsletter. Instead, you want to use snack size emails. What's a snack size email it's. A small piece of content. One, two paragraphs, maximum and a link to your website. Pause. Keep going. And that's where the engagement comes from. If you can get them on your website, you have their attention. You know that they read the email because they at least clicked on a link. Pause and it's all about the click through pause. Do you see what difference that sometimes it's the smallest changes as a performer than make the biggest difference. Good. Who else has a microphone? Here? You have a microphone shot coming up, somebody have a story. That's not about business it's not a like here's here's what you need to do to be really super successful it is all right let's go talk about business you're not right rosa parks? Yeah, only one story rosa parks becomes super fascinated with her and I like to think about what that day might have looked like. I mean, do you think that she woke up with a plan that she had special rosa parks parks clothes? No, I think that she stood up stood at the bus stop that she had stood at thousands of times before and you know what? That bus stopped and something in her coat and she said not today know because you're back to things to consider remember find those pauses find the moments right and wonder find the wonderment and the wonder of this you could never do this meaning that's that's that's the that's like the baseline of the story's like I couldn't even imagine what she did so because it's not pedestrian right let me start from the beginning. Rosa parks pause just about everybody knows the story of rosa parks and over time I've become really fascinated with her. If you're going to think about what that day might have looked like something that changed the course of history that each of us might only dream up I wonder if she planned this event if she had special clothes laid out maybe she called her parents and said tomorrow it's going down but really what I think is going to steal that could do it again I want you to go farther and I want you to imagine you have children I want you to imagine that you're telling this story to your children because they're in some sort of similar situation that's holding them down that's bringing them back and if you if you sit back until the story as if it's you know has like a mellow kind of feel to it it's not going to get through this is when you tell a story that is incredibly important tell there is a desperation there's an intensity there's a I have to tell you this story to change the world right now this is a row of public speaking, saving the world one speech at a time so we've gotta go work. I'm fascinated with this rosa parks I often wonder what that day that they look like for her I wonder if she had planned this whole thing out become fascinated with this story? What if she had laid out certain clothes if she had called her parents and said this is going to be the day or if she had gone out like she had done many times before thousands of times before stood at that bus stop and the bus came along and something in her clicked and she said not today she got what? Not today she said what not today that make them two totally separate words right now you're linking not today and the tea from the knot goes into the today try saying not today if she said not today hit the t at the end of not like there's a period a period after not and she said not today on in that split second the course of history was changed that affects every single one of our lives and what I believe is that every single one of us in this room at some point in our lives we're going to be afforded what I call a rosa parks moment and you will have the opportunity to decide whether or not you stand for something beautiful to wear different, isn't it so we need to figure out is how to continue to encourage you to give more of yourself in this story it still feels too easy a story like this if you give all of yourself to it, you may feel drained after you tell him maybe a powerful feeling but you may say that I have to sit down and I'm not saying that you have to do like it's not that but it's too easy still too easy you have to fight for this just like the way she fought for that seat now she didn't yell about it but she sat there and she did not move and and working on variants will help you so much so up here and you come up for a sec yeah so my hand is up here and amy is gonna put her hand like down this on the other side just like ok put it down okay and then I'm gonna be up here so when this department you're saying she pick out her outfit did you do this put that up here they move that up here might vocally you might go up there there's an excitement there's a pace it's going up here and then when you go after that or did she er or what was the same after they're not today now that maybe not today but let's see what would happen if you if you start all the way up here and then you move down so you find some, uh distance between those two things okay? Yeah rosa parks everybody knows the story but for me personally I've become fascinated with the process that got her there I began to wonder does she lay out certain clothes she prepare everything for the day maybe even call her parents and tell them tomorrow is the day what did she just simply go out and get in front of that bus stop like she had done thousands of times before and along came that bus and something in her click and she said not today she got on that bus and she decided to take her seat not the seat that she had accustomed to take but the seat that was hers and she planted herself and what surprises me is a simple seems stints in that one moment changed the course of history that affects the lives of every single one of us in this room today. Now what I believe is that every single one of us is going to be afforded at some time in our lives where I call a rosa parks moment and I wonder if you are prepared for that moment to take a stand for something that you are convicted now one of the things that I've noticed is that history good is better, isn't it started to go there? We really need to work on vocal variance we need to allow you to express yourself in different ways you're pretty even guy and that's great, you're steady, you're consistent you're very confident people talk to you, they feel very secure because you're even you're not theatrical in your nature, you know dramatic in your nature but when you get on stage sometimes that even this can get in your way this story can go so much further you see it don't you guys the opportunity you have it's too easy? Do you see what I mean when I say it's too easy there isn't enough risk for you in the story and the risk for you is twenty yourself on the line emotional not telling them this story but what does it actually mean to you how does it make you feel this opportunity that you have allowing yourself to live in that story as opposed to telling other people this story and what it means just for them they will get that in the telling of the story but you need to embody that as well. So right now it's too easy feel me on that doesn't make sense any questions keep working on it I want to add some think may I add something? Yes so the question then for me becomes what was your rosa parks moment? Well the so the conclusion part is that everybody has a rosa parks moment but really what the conclusion is is having a conviction stronger than your desire to please yes, but you had a moment like that you must have had a moment where you went I'm not a hack what anybody else thinks this is what I'm standing up for and there must have been an emotional motivation of that so it may be that for you in rehearsal you tell that story you practice telling that story and let yourself feel what that brings up and then tell the rosa parks story with that layer underneath that's part of what rehearsal is for we need to know why you care about the story you're telling him and you say I'm fascinated by it and the reason I say it's too easy is because I don't know why you're fascinated by it and I'm not sure that you are fascinated by when you say that you know so we can give you outer ways into makes make it seem like that like instead instead of saying I'm fascinated by it we could say to you say I'm fascinated by right those air like outer shaping but it'll be authentic unless under me underneath is supported by the truth of why you're fascinated by this competion because you have a watch a little bigger no what's contract your job all right so I want to know the audience at home what you're taking away from this work that we've been doing on storytelling we could do this all day long with these folks and we're gonna do mohr over the course of the following segments we're putting you guys on stage we'll put them on stage and you're going to do more and more of this actual performance presentation work but I want to know for you guys at home what's powerful for you about it what are you discovering how does it relate to you and the work that you are doing look guys, the work that we're doing here is critical it's critical work but it's just two days the master comes from the continued work this is why the work that we do with our students would do over a longer period of time, so when we do our total immersion course, we put people into ensembles of eight and then every time we give you an assignment to work on something, you then put that on video and you share it with your ensemble and they give you feedback so you have this level of accountability you have people watching your work as you're working on it because without that it just ideas and ideas and work don't produce theatrical moments just ideas and work don't produce the you have to rehearse it in front of other people, you have to do it over a longer period of time. So what are some of the powerful things that people are getting are saying about this particular segment? This is just our first segment of the day, isn't it? If you got a whole day's worry of a lot more left of work in just one segment, didn't we? Yeah, yeah, I mean people are really liking the pause that's something that people hadn't seen the thought about before. David cox says the importance of the pause and the contrast to make points land uh let's see indigo says, pausing as well, some of our best learning opportunities are found in the mistakes that we make and we also a lot of people seem to like the the feedback in the criticism that you're giving the people here to help, not proof read asses from the criticism helps them get better it's coaching it's what a director does and here's the thing attention is that not every note that I give you in that moment will produce the change for a couple of reasons one you've never taken notes before that's a skill to develop in and of itself is to learn how to take a note understand what that coach or director means and then apply it that is a skill that you develop over time, so that may be a new new concept for you, so that note that you took that didn't hit at that moment you'll go back when you re watch and you say I get it and now let me keep working on that you might make the change right here in the moment but then not be able to repeat it because you haven't yet mastered the rehearsal process and haven't yet mastered how to repeat moments authentically and that's where the work the longer period the total immersion in this kind of work is so incredibly important yeah, I read one more that just came in from tory doe she says they're her take away is your connection to the story is as powerful and important as the connection too audience yes when you are experiencing the story when you're telling it when you are seeing in your mind's eye the events as you're telling them then the audience can see it too absolutely good what about for you guys? What was very powerful for you? If you want the mike stand up and say I want the mike what I felt was really powerful was not just the pauses but repetition when you were back there coaching him he said not today and you had him repeat it and I mean I think that could be your I have a dream line not today, not today and you could use that one and that was huge for that. So you see how it's the the balance of the internal work, understanding how to produce the feelings that are true for you when telling a story and the external work the speech work so when amy gave him the brilliant note of separating those words instead of tying them together you saw a big change in the residence big change in the impact that it had not today is very different than not today hey so when you have that matt, when you've done that speech work and the voice work, all of that external work understand how to move on the stage and you khun access your feelings and manage and control them at the same time forget about it. Forget about that's heroic, public speaking that's, you saving the world one speech at a time because a lot of you guys, if you really mean to say I want it, oh, I want to save this part of the world. I want to change this part of the world. It doesn't mean you're an egoist or something like that just means that you want to make a difference, that you have a contribution toe and that you are willing to allow yourself to do things on stage that are outside of the way you normally might express yourself. And that is the real work that's what's challenging. So I know I know sooner than later I will see you do this story and I will get well done. I will get a ball in my throat if you are willing to express yourself in a much more significant way, and you've been telling him this as his partner every day. All right is this is mrs awesome, by the way.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

A memorable speaking engagement can transform a career – learn how to tell stories that stir up emotion and move listeners to the edge of their seats. Join Michael Port and Amy Port for the most engaging public speaking course you’ll ever encounter, Heroic Public Speaking.

Public speaking is notoriously difficult, but working professionals can rarely avoid it. Whether it's selling your work to a potential client, presenting a deck to collaborators, or giving a talk in front of a large audience, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll have to speak in front of others – learn how to do it well. In this Heroic Public Speaking course, Michael and Amy will teach you a system for engaging, persuading, and inspiring your audience, no matter the size.

In this class, Michael and Amy will help you craft a presentation that feels like a performance instead of speech. You’ll learn techniques for structuring a compelling presentation with tips on incorporating cliff-hangers, using humor to engage listeners, and constructing stories that tell a coherent story. You’ll also learn how the pros handle pre-show nerves and respond to the audience in real-time.

If you want to impress and inspire your audience, no matter the size, join Michael and Amy for their complete guide to turning your public speaking gig into a performance.



What a great class! An incredible amount of content shared in a fun, engaging way. Michael Port is a gift. I attended his Book Yourself Solid Immersion via telecourse and was impressed. However, seeing him on video adds layers of instruction that will benefit me not only in public speaking, but in other aspects of my business and life as well. Amy Mead really lazers in on specific improvements that get big results. Thanks to all for an outstanding class.


Wow.. When I first stumbled across Michaels videos I thought “this guy is almost TOO good.” The free information was so helpful that I rationalized with myself that I didn't have to sign up for the course, at least not right away. Eventually after my procrastination period I bought the class and was pleasantly reassured of my purchase. The content inside was just as valuable and fun! Not only that, watching the transformations of the students as they practiced their speeches was simply amazing. Michael and Amy work great with each other and have put together a top notch experience with Heroic Public Speaking.

a Creativelive Student

This course is GREAT! From the basics of using your body and voice, giving you a foundation for your speaking, to getting your big idea, creating a framework for your speech, structuring the speech, to delivery, you'll get an amazing amount of learning that will help you become a great public speaker. My kudos to Michael Port and Amy Mead for teaching an excellent course, and my thanks to Creative Live for presenting it!