Engineers turn ideas into reality. Likewise, a good communicator can turn thoughts into reality.
Mark Twain famously said, “I like a good story well told. That’s the reason I’m sometimes forced to tell them myself.” Engineering A Story is designed to help anyone become a more engaging, confident storyteller. For any engineering project to become reality, it must pass through 4 phases. The same is true for any great story well told.
Engineering a Story will help you find stories, share those stories, and get your audience to care. Plus learn the secret weapon that guarantees you’ll have an arsenal of great story ideas for any occasion.
In the first phase of any engineering project, the engineer speaks with the client, asking loads of questions to learn what is needed. Likewise the storyteller must first speak with their client to figure out what they hope to achieve through this presentation.
For any talk, presentation, message or sermon to resonate, the speaker must deliver one idea. Not two or three....one! All the connecting tissue must relate to and support this one idea. An engineer doesn't design a bridge and randomly include a building.
After understanding the needs of the client, a good first question to ask yourself is, "What is the one thing I want my audience to think, feel and do after they hear me speak?"
The second phase of an engineering project is the design. This is where the engineer uses his skills and education to create something new, literally something that's never existed before.
Likewise, a storyteller uses their skills, education and experiences to create something new. A thought that will make the audience go “Hmmm…” Where the engineer uses formulas to ensure the idea is well designed, the storyteller uses "formulas" to ensure the story is well designed so the audience understands and follows along.
As we design our story there are three key elements that we’ll consider - Characters, Moments and Flow. The design of these three elements is vital for success.
The third phase of an engineering project is exciting because this is where the project becomes visible to the public. Ground is broken. Trees are cleared. Dirt is moved. New structures are built. The hours of preparation become a reality.
The storyteller has spent hours thinking, meditating and crafting content that'll resonate with their audience. This is their time to shine and make their story come alive for the audience.
Every storyteller, regardless of their delivery style, must develop 4 abilities to deliver content that resonates.
Once a project is built, the general public thinks the engineer's work is done. However, there's one final phase that is vital to ensure the project will last. Inspection. Many engineering projects are open to the public while the engineer is in the shadows evaluating the construction.
Most storytellers neglect this phase of story development. It’s not flashy and you don’t receive a pat on the back. At least not in the moment. However, once the story is told, the key to improvement is inspection! Inspection improves the story and the storyteller.
Following your talk, a great question to ask yourself is, "What could I do to make this talk 10% better?" Or, "What do I need to add, tweak, or remove?" If you want to improve, inspect your work.