Developer Advocacy

The Art of Story Design

Melinda Seckington completes her three-part series on how to create great conference talks.
Video

Summary

  • Structure of a usual story

    • Beginning

    • Middle

    • End

  • Needed Story Structure

    • Context

    • Action

    • Result

7 Steps

  • Context

    • The Hook

    • The Goal

  • Action

    • The Protagonist

    • The Journey

    • The Conflict

  • Result

    • The Recap

    • The Kick

Scribble

  • Stories are the way humans convey concepts and ideas, memories, events, and emotions to one another.

  • Learning how to do so in a way that is memorable, relatable, and impactful is really, really, really valuable.

  • Once you know what you want to talk about.

    • !{insert link of talk design scribble}

  • How do you design the story in such a way that it has the best impact it could have?

    • !{insert link of design scribble}

  • How do you structure your talks so that the audience gets the most out of it?

Usual Story structure

  • Structure of a usual story

    • Beginning

    • Middle

    • End

  • Start of the talk will be in that what-is phase. By the end of the talk -- what-could-be phase.

  • Understand what that goal is before knowing what story to tell.‌

Needed Story Structure

  • Context

    • Introducing the main character, setting the scene, giving the background.

    • Giving the right background, setting the scene, giving enough information to start.

  • Action

    • About what happens to the main character.

    • Exciting middle bit, where you don’t want the audience to get bored and you give lots of information

  • Result

    • How the story ends.

    • What you’re trying to achieve with the audience.

7 Steps

  • Context

    • The Hook

    • The Goal

  • Action

    • The Protagonist

    • The Journey

    • The Conflict

  • Result

    • The Recap

    • The Kick

The Hook (Context)

  • Grabbing their attention

    • Memorable

    • Impactful

    • Visceral

    • Emotional

  • Something that immediately has the audience wanting to know more.

  • Types of Intros

    • Statement

      • Make a statement about something that might be a little bit controversial or surprising to some people.

    • Anecdote or story

      • Something a little bit emotional just to grab the audience in.

    • Metaphor

    • Quote

    • Question

  • Make it relevant.

The Goal (Context)

  • Convince them to listen to you.

  • What is the current state?

  • What’s the background?

  • What’s the starting point of the audience?

  • Why is it important to them? What’s in it for them if they listen to you?

The Protagonist (Action)

  • Understanding your protagonist is all about making sure that you’re telling the story with the right hero in mind

    • Since the action, the middle part, has the bulk of the story, that is where it’s really important that you define your hero.

  • Allow the audience to be the hero in their own story.

  • The audience doesn't really care about you and you being cool. They care about how they can be cool themselves.

  • Flipping it around and tuning the story to the audience, so how can you get the audience to do that cool thing that you did?

The Journey (Action)

  • Middle of a story, there are multiple moments, multiple events, where the main character runs into an obstacle to progress to the end goal.

  • Throughout the middle section, there will be these ebbs and flows of rising tension. So just think about random action movies.

  • How many of these action sequences will you have?

  • How many sections does your story have?

    • What this also means is that you need to figure out what info belongs together and put those into the same section, so don’t jump around.

  • Depth versus breadth.

    • Will you cover a few points in deep detail?

    • Or will you cover lots of points but each only in shallow detail?

“You can almost always tell the same story in different ways. So there’s no right or wrong way of doing this, but be aware of how structure changes the impact of a story.”

The Conflict (Action)

  • Understanding what is stopping people from getting from A to B.

  • Going back to the idea of going from the what-is phase to the what-could-be phase,

    • Understanding why they aren't there yet.

  • It’s your job to acknowledge that conflict and make it part of the narrative.

  • You need to figure out how to make it relevant to the audience and make it easier for them to relate to and understand

  • If you make it relevant, it also makes it more impactful and more memorable.

‌The Recap (Result)

  • Remind people what they’ve learnt.

  • For shorter presentations, this might be a single line, but for long presentations,

  • you want to remind people all the things that you’ve covered.

  • This is also a moment to celebrate what people know now.

‌The Kick (Result)

  • Finally, the kick, so end with a bang.

  • The audience will remember the final minutes the most so in a way, it pretty much echoes the beginning.

  • Make it memorable, impactful, visceral, emotional, so do something that will stick with the audience.