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HOW TO TELL A STORY

WORKBOOK

Jennifer Aaker
(aaker@gsb.stanford.edu)
Stanford GSB
ONE FRAMEWORK
FOR STORYTELLING

Story = Situation/Desire - Complication/Obstacle - Solution/Outcome

For each of the stories on Exercise 1, complete:

Title of story______________________

Situation or desire________________________

Complication or obstacle________________________

Solution or outcome______________________
EXERCISE 1
Creating a Personal Story Bank
Stories you tell about yourself (re: who you are, what you stand
for, where you are going, your career, etc.)
1.
2.
3.
Stories told about you by a family member
1.
2.
3.
Stories told about you by a friend
1.
2.
To be done before 1st day of class
3.
DONT KNOW WHAT STORIES YOU
TELL ABOUT YOURSELF?
Four Stories You Will Tell in Your Career

Who I am Story. Conveys who you are, what you stand for, why you
are here, and where you are going.
- Goal: advocate for yourself. (Try mindmapping; next slide)

How We Are Different Story. Illuminates uniqueness of company.


- Goal: advocate for your company

Apology & Recovery Story. Communicate unfortunate news or


mistake, and manages the damage that can result.
- Goal: explain an important turning point and/or re-cultivate trust

The Vision Story. Share vision for the future for company.
- Goal: inspire
For Who I am Story:
MindMapping the Story of your Career

What is a mindmap anyway? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map


Some online programs to help (http://www.wordle.net/ http://bubbl.us/)
EXERCISE 2
The Ahas
Pick 3 stories from Exercise 1. In bubble, write your ah-ha
(key message of story which illuminates the storys
relevance and importance)

1.

2.

3.
To be done before 1st day of class
EXERCISE 3
Share 3 stories with a partner in class (1 min each). Your
partner will help you pick the story with the best potential to
move forward. Criterion to be used:

1. Clear protagonist

2. Clear emotional hook

3. Interesting

4. Conflict

5. Meaning clear

6. Applicability in the future (if only cocktail party)


To be done with partner during 1st day of class
END OF DAY 1

GOAL OF DAY 1:
CREATE A PERSONAL STORYBANK

NEXT STEP:
PICK THE ONE STORY YOU WANT TO DEVELOP.
CREATE 4 PPT SLIDES THAT VISUALLY TELL THE STORY
EXERCISE 4
Storyboard your story. Create a 4-slide ppt deck that
represents key scenes of your story.
END OF DAY 2

GOAL OF DAY 2:
UNDERSTAND AND PRACTICE VISUAL STORYTELLING

NEXT STEP:
DEVELOP YOUR STORY
EXERCISE 5
Setting Description

Where?

When?

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 5
Character Description
Describe character in detail (for inspiration, see list on next page)

Describe secondary character in detail

To be done before 3rd day of class


BASIC CHECKLIST OF TRAITS
(TO PAINT SPECIFIC PICTURE)

able creative gentle light proper sterile


adventurous curious gullible light-hearted proud strong
ambitious dainty handsome lovable quiet stubborn
blowhard daring happy loving rawboned studious
bold dark hard-working loyal repugnant successful
bossy demanding helpful mean repulsive tall
brave desiccated honest messy reserved thoughtful
bright determined humble mischievous resourceful thrilling
brutish disagreeable humorous mottled respectful timid
busy dreamer imaginative neat responsible tireless
calm drunk immobile obedient rich ugly
carefree dull impulsive obese rude uncoordinated
caring energetic independent overweight sad unselfish
cheerful excited indolent patriotic scrawny unsuitable
civilized expert intelligent perverse scruffy vacant
clever fancy inventive pitiful self-confident violent
clumsy fearful jovial plain selfish wild
compassionate ferocious joyful pleasing serious witty
conceited fighter keen poor short
confused friendly lazy popular shy
considerate fun-loving leader pretty simple
cooperative funny lean prim simple-minded
courageous generous licentious primitive smart
EXERCISE 5
Plot Creation

The sequence of events. Develop the scenes, present


obstacles.

a.

b.

c.

To be done before 3rd day of class


BASIC CHECKLIST OF VERBS
(TO HELP PAINT SPECIFIC PICTURE)

Advocate Demonstrate Form Persuade


Guide
Articulate Develop Plane
Hire
Assemble Disseminate Recommend
Illustrate
Bolster Educate Recruit
Implement
Clarify Empower Remove
Influence
Coach Encourage Report
Inform
Communicate Establish Simplify
Initiate
Convert Evaluate Socialize
Inspire
Convince Examine Standardize
Invigorate
Create Facilitate Stimulate
Motivate
Define Familiarize Structure

Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations (Nancy Duarte)

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 5
Conflict/problem of the Story

What is the conflict?

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 5
Climax

Describe

What happens

When and how the problem is resolved

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 5
What is the Point (Aha)

Why was this important to me?

What was my learning?

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 5
Write opening and closing

Write your opening sentence here:

Write your closing sentence here:

To be done before 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 6a
Listening well

Listening to stories intelligently is as great a skill as telling


them. Ethnographers have a great skill for eliciting stories
from people and drawing meaning from them.

Practice this skill of listening. With your partner, analyze:

- what was the conflict in that story


- what does the conflict tell you about person telling the story
- what does the choice of story tell you about them?

What question can you ask - to get really great, meaningful,


revealing stories from them?

To be done with partner on 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 6b
With partner, do anthropological exercise re: main character

An important premise in good stories is: show, dont tell. If


you describe your character well, your audience knows more
about them then you could ever say: They feel like there
really know this person and could make implied judgments
about what they would do or who they are.

Thus, character development is critical. To hone your skill,


ask your partner 2-3 questions around your character
(questions that you did not mention in your story such as,
"what does this character eat for breakfast? what is this
characters favorite movies and see how your partners
answers align with your intentions).

To be done with partner on 3rd day of class


EXERCISE 6c
With partner, brainstorm tools to paint more vivid pictures in your story

OPINION WORDS: those describing what the speaker thinks.

FACT WORDS: those that show by supplying sensory details.

TIME-ORDER WORDS: words that describe time and sequence, at last and finally.

POSITION WORDS: those that describe location, underneath.

METAPHOR: a figure of speech that compares one thing to another.

SIMILE: metaphor comparing two things using like, a or as. (i.e. She runs like a deer or is thin as a rail.)

PERSONIFICATION: when human characteristics are given to non-human things.

ATMOSPHERE WORDS: select descriptive words that support the atmosphere of your story

HYPERBOLE: an extravagant exaggeration. For example, John is as strong as an ox.

To be done with partner on 3rd day of class


END OF DAY 3

GOAL OF DAY 3:
Craft your story

NEXT STEP:
Practice
EXERCISE 7

Practice your 3 minute story


Tape your story, or watch yourself in front or a mirror
Watch, listen, fuse
Coach (with friend) on presentation
Practice/integrate new ideas
Tape your story, or watch yourself in front or a mirror again

To be done before 4th day of class & practiced again before final day
THE END