public speaking, Uncategorized

“It’s About Your Script.”

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether you are delivering an informative, persuasive or humorous speech.  The majority of people concentrate on how they are going to deliver their presentation, or what images will work best on their next Keynote/PowerPoint presentation.  They may then focus on whether to use notes or make an attempt to memorize their speech. And yet, no one really looks at the root of all public speaking problems and its solution–the script.

I’m writing this article for print and reading, but if I was delivering this as a speech, my writing would look quite different, in fact, it would look like a script, because essays are designed to be read, while scripts are crafted to be spoken.

scriptvsnovel

A script, like a novel, is written with words–and yet they are different.   Where a novel must set the scene, develop the characters, and create emotion with words; a script  must be spoken to an audience creating its energy by breathing life into each word.

How to Prepare Your Speech

Write it as if you are speaking.  Don’t write an essay, the words will be spoken not printed.  Double-space your script: This is for the purpose of making comments to yourself.

Underline adjectives and key phrases.  These are words that represent emotions.  What emotions do your words represent? If you aren’t sure then this is something a public speaking coach could help out with.

Practice by speaking out loud

I have walked into many high school and college English 1 classes to find students buried in reading a Shakespeare play like Romeo & Juliet or Julius Caesar–the key word is “buried,” because the room is silent as everyone is trying to stay awake reading silently.  Not one of Shakespeare’s plays was designed to be read like some novel–they were written to be SPOKEN! Because Shakespeare’s plays are scripts not novels.

Likewise, don’t practice reading your script for a speech or presentation silently to yourself, READ IT OUT LOUD.    Many people are embarrassed to read their speeches out loud, even when they’re alone, but will pay for it, at the lectern,  when that anxiety appears from hearing their voice, as if for the first time. At that point, awkwardness leads to a lack of confidence that fills the speaker, turning an opportunity to make a great impression into self resentment.

I have seen several good public speaking courses on video.  Likewise there are several good books teaching presentation topics from the boardroom to TED talks.  But both lack two key ingredients. (1) No system on how to choose the right words for impact, and (2) No live feedback from a qualified or professional public speaking coach.  When watching a video or reading a book, how do you know that you are doing it right? You need someone to hear your presentation, evaluate it, and return positive criticism that will encourage and improve your speech.

Public Speaking is a Skill

Unfortunately, videos and books can’t give you experience and feedback.  Experience comes from both practice and delivery to a live audience. Feedback comes from encouragement and direction from an experience coach.

Public speaking comes under the heading of communication as one of the most important foundational tools you can possess.  Public speaking is also the foundation to developing other business skills such as: Leadership, problem-solving, project management, sales and more.   Like any skill, public speaking is an ongoing process that leads to proficiency and beyond.

Looking for a Public Speaking Coach

I strongly believe people looking to learn or perfect their public speaking skills cannot get this experience from videos or books.  For over three decades I have taught public speaking\debate courses, been a theatrical director, playwrite, an actor, and a public speaking coach.  Three decades of hands-on experience working with beginners to professional speakers. I know I can help you in either my workshop setting or one-to-one coaching.  

It is said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it can’t change you.”  Take the challenge to increase your self-confidence and put the nervousness under control.  If interested in learning more about my class settings and topics check out my website: https://PeteRome.com.

 

 

Storyteller Secrets

Digital Storytelling-P3

Sand-Watch-Detail-89483

The rules for digital stories have changed.  Story themes that go viral have created a new set of rules.  But the first rule that still applies--is your story compelling?  The six elements that work together to make this happen are: the message, content, visual images, color, action and timing.

Timing is more than the length of the story, it also represents viewer’s attention.  This is one reason I keep my daily blogs down to 500 words, that is about 2-minutes of reading  time out loud.  My blog competes with thousands of other blogs for not just your attention–but your time.

Digital stories have more elements to combine than regular storytelling, so the timing is very important in both presentation and delivery.  I cannot emphasize enough that a digital story should be created and developed on a storyboard—yesterday’s lesson.  A storyboard helps to craft and develop how the six elements bring continuity and appeal to attract visitors to your site.

Remember, that it is the message not the story you are really trying to deliver.  If this is a strategic story then the message has a call to action for a response step.  It all begins with your script.  Scripts are generally written in font 12 and double spaced.  Depending on the script, one page formatted in this matter could be equal to one-minute or more.

An actor can be a narrator’s voice, an actual person, an animated character, or even an object.  The story will have a certain pace to emphasize points towards your message.  Back in the 1980’s, John Moschitta, made several commercials for different companies.  He was known as the fastest speaker on record.  Here is an example of a 1980, 30-second commercial he made.

The fast pace kept the viewer’s attention because it motivated the listener to pay attention to the words.  Had John spoke at a normal speed this probably would have been a one-minute commercial.  The hook was John’s pace and lack of pauses, it forced the listener’s attention and was quite successful.

When to release your story is another timing issue.  If your digital story is for brand marketing or sales then Thursday’s and Sundays are the best days to reach customers surfing on the Net.  If your story pertains to a current event then releasing the story as soon as possible will be important.  Adding twitter hash marks will help . During the day, the best times for release are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast.  These times will vary across the world depending on highest commuter traffic.

Rehearsal is probably the last important key to timing.  I enjoy the character Data, an android character, on the Star Trek Next Generation series.  In this clip, Data is trying out his joke to Guinan (played by Woopie Goldberg).  What this clip will illustrate is that you can have quality material, but if timing is off, you lose reliability.  In humor that’s the punch line.  In Digital Storytelling that’s your message.

Strategic Story

Strategic Storytelling-Branding 2

After yesterday’s Story-branding, I decided to look for videos that could be critiqued and even possibly improved if they were changed to a story.  It didn’t take long for me to find one.  Before I say anymore, look at this Real Estate video.

 

 

The video was published on July 20, 2017.  The message for this video was to announce a First-Time Home-buyers Seminar that was scheduled for August 16, 2017.  The message took 10-seconds.  So, first let’s go over what’s wrong with this video.

First, it should have already been taken down after Aug. 16th.   This is out dated information.

Humor is a great attention grabber IF it makes a point–this one didn’t.  This group is hosting a First-Time Home-buyers Seminar.  What will be discussed?  What do I need to know in order to buy my first home?  What will I get out of this seminar when I leave?  Of course, none of these questions were asked.  What I observed were five well-dressed RE agents doing out-of-date 1980 dancing in the lobby of their office.  Here is an alternative for a one-minute story presentation.

INT.  KITCHEN   {Wife hands a letter to her husband}

HUSBAND

                                                  What’s this?

WIFE

Our rent is being increased again

HUSBAND

[ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED]

{Reads the letter and then crumbles it up and throws it into the trash}

This is never going to stop.  If we owned a home, like our parents, we would be better off.  But I just don’t think we can afford it.

WIFE

I’m not sure if we could even qualify.  They go by credit scores and how much money you got in the bank.

HUSBAND

I’ve gone online, but there just too much information and education to figure it all out.  I just wish we knew someone we could talk to.

INT.  [CAMERA PANS TO RIGHT] TO RE AGENT BEHIND THE COUPLE.  CAMERA ZOOMS IN SLOWLY ON AGENT AS HE SPEAKS.

AGENT

Let us help you answer these and other questions you might have at our free First Time Home-buyers Seminar.  Come with your concerns and questions and you’ll leave not only with answers, but who knows, maybe with an idea where you might just buy your first home.  Let us be your guide and take you through the steps.  We’re here for you.

A window to click to reserve your free seats could have helped in getting customer information.  This group overlooked several opportunities to collect intel and future leads.

Now, let’s end with this advertisement for Ubiquity World Network.  Remember Hitchcock on the visuals setting the tone, communicating the message, and transferring the emotions.  You will find all three in this one-minute clip.  I especially enjoyed the transitions between scenes.  This is not hard to do, it just takes time to plan it out.  The story has a beginning with the architect designer, how the company differs from cable companies, and ends with a united family using the Net.

 

AfterEffects software can do both these transitions and animations.  Worth thinking about.

Uncategorized

The Quest

drama masksThe symbols of the two masks, one smiling and the other sad, comes from the Greek culture of theatre and drama ‘Comedy’ and ‘Tragedy’.  Comedy meant that a story had a good ending, like William Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” or Allison Schroeder’s screenplay, “Hidden Figures.”  On the other hand, tragedy always had a bad ending; again, we see Shakespeare’s, “Romeo and Juliet,” or Director Paul Greengrass’ movie, “United 93.”

What all good stories have in common is their ability to change perspective.  A good lawyer will work hard to change the jury’s perspective of his client.  “Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.”  Joni E. Tada.

This brings us to our next genre—The Quest.  The purpose of the Quest is to build tension in the story.  Demonstrate how your character overcomes his challenges.  End with delivering a satisfying conclusion, which creates a shift of your audience’s perspective.   In the end, the real power in a good story is the ability to continue to change the perspective of your listener or reader.

dan brownDan Brown is a master at weaving history and urban legends into powerful stories.  His  stories have the ability to alter his audience’s perspectives by presenting new definitions on symbols ranging from Masonic symbols to the rituals in the Catholic Church.  The Biblical writers of the New Testament likewise did not just introduce Jesus but have continued to change human perspectives for the past 2000 years.

The Quest, as a storytelling tool, works best when the stories are true and personal.  It is about stories of true human adventures, trials and tribulations, and overcoming the odds; transferring the emotions from setbacks and successes to the listener or reader.  It begs simple questions, “What would I have done in that situation?”  “Could I do the same in my own situation or quest?”

father&sonThere is a story about an elderly woman who boarded a train.   After a few stops she noticed a father and his young son, who looked like he was probably nine years old, board the train.  They took their seats directly in front of her.

Soon, the son started talking loudly to his father, telling him about the clouds he saw outside and buildings and trees the train was passing by.  The father listened to him and nodded encouragingly.

After a while, the elderly woman got annoyed by how the young man was speaking, and learned forward and said to his father, “Excuse me, sir, but have you considered taking him to special doctor?”

The father smiled at her, and replied: “Actually, we’re just coming back from the doctor.  You see, my son has been blind since birth, and this is the first day he’s ever been able to see.”

You see, it’s about taking your listeners\readers on a journey’s quest reaching a high point of tension or emotional buildup, like a mountain peak, then suddenly dropping them, like a steep slope, not negatively, but more of an awakening—a new perspective.

Uncategorized

In Medias Res

It was not a mutiny in the old-time sense, of course, with flashing of cutlasses, a captain in chains,and desperate sailors turning outlaws. After all, it happened in 1944 in the United States Navy, but the court of inquiry recommended trial for mutiny, and the episode became known as “the Caine mutiny” throughout the service.

The story begins with Willie Keith because the event turned on his personality as the massive door of a vault turns on a small jewel bearing.  Caine’s Mutiny by Hernan Wouk.

These are the opening lines for the 1951, Pulitzer Prize novel, which starts the story at the court martial; whereas, the 1954 movie version begins with the 2nd Lt. Willie Keith being assigned to the Caine ship.  The screenplay builds the characters and the causes for the mutiny.  The book novel is a good example of In Medias Res.

Today, I will introduce, “In Medias Res,” or learning how to begin the story in the middle where there is an action or dramatic scene that captures, engages, and motivates your listener to want more.  In Medias Res creates questions.  Questions like, ‘What happened before this?’  or ‘What caused this to happen?’  or ‘Who is he?’  These questions create engagement and capture the audience’s attention.

odyssey-homer

cumbelineIn Medias Res is a well establish style of storytelling.  For example, Homer’s Odysseus’ journey already is at the end when the story begins, what happens after this are flashbacks to different points of time, building the story, the characters, and answering the ‘Why’ questions.   William Shakespeare also used this format in one of his plays called, “Cymbeline.”

There are three good reasons for considering the use of In Medias Res.  The first has an advantage of focusing attention to the high point of the story.  A good analogy is on how movie trailers are designed.  They tend to place the audience right into the middle of the action to entice and motivate future ticket sales.  In storytelling, placing the audience in the middle of the action or dramatic scene has advantages.

The second reason gives you an opportunity to seize the attention of your audience.  But what is meant by attention?  The attention here means to engage or to invite a listener along the journey.

The third and what I think is the most important point is it creates questions immediately.  If the next turn on the road can be anticipated there isn’t much suspense.  Suspense comes from not knowing what will happen next.  The middle initiates the action, the beginning explains how we got there, and the end, which we are not sure, still lies around the bend unknown.

First-World-War-so_2786176bOPENING SCENE:   The soldier is writing into his diary his last thoughts before the final battle, he then stops to reflect on his earlier entries as we journey back in time through his memory.  Suddenly, we’re back, the battle begins.  How will it end?   Will the soldier survive? We don’t know. That’s the advantage of In Medias Res.

Uncategorized

The Nested-Loop

In my junior high years, I loved collecting, trading and reading comics.  As kids, we brought our comics to school where all kinds of deals were made for the right story.  But, it was in my last year of junior high when my cousin Joel visited me with a special gift—a book.  He told me that as much as comics were fun to read he thought it was time for me to expand my vocabulary and world while reading science fiction.

s-l640My first book from him, “I, Robot,” a 1950 first edition.  This series was made up of nine stories which I savored every evening.  So popular was Isaac Asimov’s robot stories I continued reading them to Asimov’s passing.  I still have that original “I, Robot” book in my collection.

In more modern times, I have enjoyed stories from James Clavell, Michael Crichton, and Dan Brown.  These authors have a genius for weaving a network of stories into one complete story.  Nested-loop stories are the second classical genres I will be sharing with you today.

I saw Julie Heffernan’s artwork called, “The Scout III” (above) and asked permission to include it in this blog.  She asked me what I saw?  I told her, it reminded me of a storyteller who is creating a nested loop of stories within stories.  She agreed and granted me permission to display her artwork—which I’m most grateful for.

Speakers who perform nested-loop stories, like Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, have the ability to explain a process while inspiring an audience.  The use of analogies and metaphors are also key in stimulating visual imagery for better understanding and comprehension.  In the end, the authors impart not only knowledge but wisdom, which the listener can pass on to others.  Check out James Burke’s, The Day the Universe Changed, and Connections.”

The nested-loop works like this.  You place your most important story (thought, concept, or idea) in the center and use stories at the beginning to draw your listener in.  The last story finishes the first story and ties in the center story into one neat package.

maxresdefaultWe find a good analogy of a nested-loop in the story of the “Godfather II.”  The story opens with young Vito Corieone witnessing the murder of his father, mother, and brother.  The center of the story covers the boy’s growth into manhood, where he becomes prosperous as both a businessman and a godfather. It ends with the beginning of the story as Vito returns to Sicily to take revenge on his family’s murderer.

stan-lee5Now it’s time for me to end this article, but I need to end it like a nested-loop, somehow bringing the beginning topic of comics through the middle and tying it at the end.  How?  How about—Stan Lee!

Stan Lee is known as the godfather of comics.   Stan Lee’s stories have moved from comics to television, to the silver screen; from movies to the game industry, now to online. Now that’s a real 3D nested-loop!