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Write/Speak/Code 2018 – The Full Story: Presenting Complete Ideas

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Write/Speak/Code 2018 – The Full Story: Presenting Complete Ideas

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Telling a cohesive story is one of the hardest parts of public speaking. Many fledgling speakers find it challenging to string concepts together in an order that makes sense to other people. They also find themselves struggling to explain things in a way that feels approachable. In this talk, I share methods to plan and present ideas so that your audience can better understand them. Readers will finish the talk knowing how to outline and design presentations for speaking engagements.

Telling a cohesive story is one of the hardest parts of public speaking. Many fledgling speakers find it challenging to string concepts together in an order that makes sense to other people. They also find themselves struggling to explain things in a way that feels approachable. In this talk, I share methods to plan and present ideas so that your audience can better understand them. Readers will finish the talk knowing how to outline and design presentations for speaking engagements.

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Write/Speak/Code 2018 – The Full Story: Presenting Complete Ideas

  1. 1. @cattsmall@cattsmall The Full Story: Presenting Complete Ideas Write/Speak/Code – Catt Small
  2. 2. @cattsmall@cattsmall How and why storytelling is important in presentations and writing. Today we’ll discuss:
  3. 3. @cattsmall@cattsmall A bit about myself
  4. 4. @cattsmall@cattsmall ● Senior Product Designer, Etsy ● Game Developer ● Maker of various things ● Avid public speaker and writer! I am...
  5. 5. @cattsmall@cattsmall TEDx
  6. 6. @cattsmall@cattsmall Beyond Tellerrand https://www.flickr.com/photos/szene/albums/72157668372457665
  7. 7. @cattsmall@cattsmall AIGA Design
  8. 8. @cattsmall@cattsmall FusionConf
  9. 9. @cattsmall@cattsmall Writing
  10. 10. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lots of topics UX Games Code CreativityCommunity Public speaking!
  11. 11. @cattsmall@cattsmall One technique worked across all these spaces.
  12. 12. @cattsmall@cattsmall STORYTELLING
  13. 13. @cattsmall@cattsmall What is storytelling?
  14. 14. @cattsmall@cattsmall The social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Wikipedia
  15. 15. @cattsmall@cattsmall Components of a story Plot Characters Point of view
  16. 16. @cattsmall@cattsmall Plot A sequence of events that affect other events inside a story.
  17. 17. @cattsmall@cattsmall Characters One or more beings within a story.
  18. 18. @cattsmall@cattsmall Point of view The perspective through which a story is communicated.
  19. 19. @cattsmall@cattsmall Why does storytelling matter?
  20. 20. @cattsmall@cattsmall People engage more.
  21. 21. @cattsmall@cattsmall Primed from childhood
  22. 22. @cattsmall@cattsmall Start Finish
  23. 23. @cattsmall@cattsmall People relate more.
  24. 24. @cattsmall@cattsmall This could’ve totally happened to me! Everyone listening to a story
  25. 25. @cattsmall@cattsmall Real human being
  26. 26. @cattsmall@cattsmall People understand more.
  27. 27. @cattsmall@cattsmall Marilee “Brain Lady” Sprenger The hippocampus gets the opportunity to draw on previously stored patterns and compare the new to the old. Some of those analogy components might bring up personal memories that will provide another learning link.
  28. 28. @cattsmall@cattsmall Functions are like teaching a dog to fetch. Me teaching a JavaScript class
  29. 29. @cattsmall@cattsmall
  30. 30. @cattsmall@cattsmall Here’s how tools distracted me in the past. Me onstage at FITC
  31. 31. @cattsmall@cattsmall My mistake Their success
  32. 32. @cattsmall@cattsmall People remember more.
  33. 33. @cattsmall@cattsmall Marilee “Brain Lady” Sprenger Stories have emotional components that attract the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. They also have beginnings, middles, and ends that make sense to the hippocampus, the structure that helps store these episodes.
  34. 34. @cattsmall@cattsmall How to use storytelling
  35. 35. @cattsmall@cattsmall Overarching idea Story 2Story 1 Story 3
  36. 36. @cattsmall@cattsmall Abstract 1–3 paragraphs that answer the following: ◇What are you talking about? ◇What problem are you trying to solve? ◇What will attendees learn?
  37. 37. @cattsmall@cattsmall Mind map Designing socially impactful experiences Technology as a silver bullet How tech failsHow tech succeeds How to create a project for good Humility
  38. 38. @cattsmall@cattsmall Arrange outline Designing socially impactful experiences Technology as a silver bullet How tech fails How tech succeeds How to create a project for good Humility
  39. 39. @cattsmall@cattsmall Drill down ● Intro - 1 min ● Technology as a silver bullet - 5 min ○ Technology has been improving for centuries ○ It has helped with countless issues ○ However, this doesnt always end so well ○ Why do we think about tech this way, even when its repeatedly proven to not be a solution for everything? ● How tech fails people with good intentions - 10 min ○ Many people naturally want to help others ○ We see problems happening to ourselves that we want to solve ○ We see problems happening to others too ○ We were told we can change the world ○ We use the skills we have ○ Inflated egos ● Creating a project for good that won't fix all the problems - 15 min ● Principles to follow - 10 min ● Conclusion - 4 min
  40. 40. @cattsmall@cattsmall Identify opportunities ● Intro - 1 min ● Technology as a silver bullet - 5 min ○ Technology has been improving for centuries ○ It has helped with countless issues ○ However, this doesnt always end so well ○ Why do we think about tech this way, even when its repeatedly proven to not be a solution for everything? ● How tech fails people with good intentions - 10 min ○ Many people naturally want to help others ○ We see problems happening to ourselves that we want to solve ○ We see problems happening to others too ○ We were told we can change the world ○ We use the skills we have ○ Inflated egos ● Creating a project for good that won't fix all the problems - 15 min ● Principles to follow - 10 min ● Conclusion - 4 min Story: Examples of past failures Story: My project and what I learned
  41. 41. @cattsmall@cattsmall INSERT into outline VALUES stories;
  42. 42. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lessons learned
  43. 43. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lesson 1: Stories should be simple.
  44. 44. @cattsmall@cattsmall Easy to follow Start Finish1 2 3
  45. 45. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lesson 2: Stories should be low in quantity.
  46. 46. @cattsmall@cattsmall One of many techniques Stories Statements Quotes Audience questions
  47. 47. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lesson 3: Stories should be relevant.
  48. 48. @cattsmall@cattsmall Concept Story Idea
  49. 49. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lesson 4: Stories should be down-to- earth.
  50. 50. @cattsmall@cattsmall Real human being
  51. 51. @cattsmall@cattsmall
  52. 52. @cattsmall@cattsmall Lesson 5: Stories should be easy to recall.
  53. 53. @cattsmall@cattsmall If no one remembers, it’s not worth your time.
  54. 54. @cattsmall@cattsmall Wrap up
  55. 55. @cattsmall@cattsmall ◇Stories can be used to make your talk more engaging. ◇Listeners retain information more when stories are included. ◇ People relate to stories. In summary:
  56. 56. @cattsmall@cattsmall ◇Always outline your content first. ◇Consider your audience at all times. ◇Make sure your sub-stories relatable, simple, and topical. Advice for storytelling
  57. 57. @cattsmall@cattsmall Thank you. Questions? Tweet @cattsmall Email catt@cattsmall.com

Editor's Notes

  • Thanks
    I attended the first event in 2013, so happy to be here!
  • Storytelling as a concept
    And how to use storytelling in your presentations to make better and more engaging talks
    Much of this is about public speaking but is also applicable to written work
  • But first, a bit about me so you have some context about where I’m coming from
  • I am many things
    Senior Product Designer at Etsy
    A website that lets people buy unique goods from around the world
    I work on the marketing services team
    We help sellers by building tools that help them market themselves to buyers
    Cofounder at Brooklyn Gamery
    Make endearing and weird video games
    Organize diversity-focused events like the Game Devs of Color Expo
    An event that highlights game developers of color
    And teaches people of color to create their own games
    I also make my own stuff when I’m not working
    Games
    Apps
    Websites
    Informal experiences
    Comics
    And I love to share my ideas through public speaking and writing!
  • I’ve spoken at lots of events like TEDx
  • Beyond Tellerrand
    A cutting-edge technology conference in Germany
  • AIGA Design Conference
    For designers of all kinds
  • And most recently Fusionconf
    A one-day event in North Carolina for designers and front-end engineers!
  • I also have a blog where I’ve written about lots of topics over the past 8 years
    This is a screenshot from my 10-part public speaking series
    It details how I went from a very nervous, awkward, quiet person
    To a very nervous, awkward, loud person with public speaking skills
  • My topics of discussion don’t always have much in common
    They can be about design, technology, life
    Or even public speaking
  • My talks all have one thing in common though...
  • Storytelling.
  • Just to give a brief definition so we’re all on the same page about what storytelling is...
  • I will be referring to storytelling as the social and cultural activity of sharing stories (according to Wikipedia)
  • Stories are made up of three components
    Plot
    Characters
    Point of View
  • The plot refers to the sequence of events in the story
    It can be long or short, involving few or many events
  • Characters are beings that exist within the story
    By beings, I mean any objects that have agency or personality
    They affect or are affected by the plot
    For example, this can be people but also animals and other objects that have been given life
  • The point of view is the perspective of the narrator
  • In terms of why storytelling is important...
  • It is more engaging for your listeners
  • We have been primed from childhood to listen to stories
    Fairy tales communicated societal morals and learnings to us
    Think about anansi the spider and red Riding Hood
    What did that communicate to you?
  • People LOVE the process of a plot moving from start to finish
    We want to know what happens next
    And how it ends
    Even when we know how it ends, we want to know how events unfolded
  • Secondly, people relate more when they hear stories
  • Listeners put themselves in the shoes of the characters in the stories
    They feel a sense of compassion for the narrator and characters in the story
  • Stories make you feel like an interesting and real human being
    I used to be bad at telling stories within my social circles
    The most relatable and social people in those circles were the ones who told stories more
    It was because they were sharing life experiences
    They were vulnerable, funny, and engaging
    Now of course, we all are real human beings
    This just communicates that to people because they can empathize more with you
  • Thirdly, people understand more when you use stories
  • They literally process information better
    I’m not going to read this whole thing, but basically...
    Our brains have what's called a hippocampus
    It compares existing experiences with new stories we hear
    Things that are related to personal experiences can be processed easily
    Stories are more likely to be relatable to existing experiences and/or fears people have
    There are two ways to do this...
  • You can use analogies to explain ideas that might be hard to understand otherwise
    For example, explaining functions
  • Many people understand how animals learn
    They can then relate that process to programming functions
    And then they have a positive way to remember an otherwise scary concept
  • Larger, more personal stories can be used to explain how something worked or didn’t work
    For example, your experience with a process can provide lessons for other people
    In one talk, I describe how I got incredibly distracted by tools and perfection rather than understanding my projects context
    That was a compelling argument for my stance on the talk, which was to concentrate less on being perfect and more on being flexible
  • By talking about a personal failure or frustration, you can transfer your negative experience into their success
    Listeners appreciate the opportunity to learn from mistakes
    From up there on stage, you seem really successful
    It’s important to use that platform to share the learnings that got you there
  • And finally, because of the engagement, relatability, and understanding...
    People remember more of your talk
  • Again, I’m not going to read this whole thing
    But it’s basically easier to process and therefore store something that is packaged in a story format
    Our brains have something called an amygdala and it likes things with beginnings, middles and ends
    That’s probably why many people TV hate shows that never end
    Looking at you, The Simpsons...
  • So now that you know what storytelling is within the realm of this talk
    And why it’s awesome
    Here’s how to use storytelling to put that extra awesome sparkle into your future talks
    And your written work
    I’ll be going through my entire process from start to finished product
  • But first... I want to point out something
    Like books, presentations also have two layers of stories
    The overarching story
    The sub-stories that hone in on the lessons shared in each section of the talk
    I’m going to talk about how to create an overarching story
    Then identify opportunities for sub-stories
    Now let’s talk about how to make this happen in your talk
    All of this is also applicable to written work
  • Once you’ve identified a talk idea, you need to flesh it out
    I do this by writing an abstract
    a summary of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech
    I answer questions like...
    What’s the talk about?
    What am I trying to solve?
    What will people watching the talk learn?
    This last one is most important
    This helps hone in the talk idea more and identify the talk’s audience
  • Next, I take the core talk idea and start mind mapping
    Mind mapping is the process of writing down related ideas that come into your head
    I usually do this by writing on paper
    Or in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs
    So for example, this idea...
  • Once all the ideas are out of my head...
    I take the brain dump and organize it into a structure that makes sense
    This becomes a high-level outline that provides the direction for the finished talk
    For example, once I have all the ideas out of my head for this talk, I might rearrange them so that they make sense
  • Then I transfer the high-level outline into a writing program
    (if I wasn’t already in one)
    I add time budgets to each section
    For example, the intro gets 5 minutes and the other sections get 10
    This helps me figure out how much to talk about each part of my presentation
    How many slides I will probably make
    And helps me remember how much time I have to talk in total
    For writing, I might budget a number of words or paragraphs
    I then brain dump more into each section until I have found a place for everything I’d like to cover in the talk
    For example, adding (MENTION ONSCREEN THINGS)
  • I locate spaces in which the talk would benefit from sharing an experience of mine
    Or others, it doesn’t have to be something that happened to you directly
    For example, a time when something didn’t work out – or did
    Looking at this idea, I might talk about how Facebook and Twitter negatively impacted the election
    And then I might talk about what I did to make my project successful
  • Then I add the stories into my outline
    After this, I usually move to creating the actual presentation
    This is the process I used to make this talk (and many others) as well as write blog posts
  • Now that you know how I work, here are some lessons I’ve learned about storytelling and telling stories within talks
    Some of these apply to the process of telling a cohesive story with your talk
    Some just apply to the technique of adding stories to your talk
  • Stories need to be simple
  • They need to be easy to follow and concise
    People will lose interest quickly
    They can not process a lot of information at once
    Avoid presenting too many concepts within a talk or a sub-story
    Keep it simple
  • Secondly, stories within your talk must be low in quantity
  • Sub-stories are one of many techniques
    Don’t overuse them or they will lose their impact
    If you tell too many stories, people may feel like you're rambling to fill space
    Your goal is to help people learn
    Avoid making people recognize the technique by using it scarcely and intentionally
    If they do recognize it, they will be distracted and it will no longer be beneficial to you
  • Thirdly, if your talk is not relevant to the time period it is being presented in...
    Ensure that you figure out ways to make it more relevant
    For example, talking about UX Design now is different than talking about it in 2012
    How have things changed, and how can you adapt your presentation to the time?
  • In terms of sub-stories, they should be related to the concept
    Present your idea and then attach a story to it
    This is how people remember your idea and therefore the concept
    One way to keep it relevant to people in the audience...
    Ask yourself: would someone who doesn’t know me get why this is related?
  • Stories should also be down to earth
  • Again, you want people to remember that you are a real human being
  • Climb down from your fancy castle
    Get comfortable with laughing at yourself
    Share times when you’ve succeded and failed
    Lessons about success and failure are equally useful
    One person at a talk described a time in which he thought he had a heart attack
    I still remember his lesson to live your life with full intention because it was so impactful
  • Finally, they should be easy to remember
  • The whole point of storytelling is to convey ideas more efficiently
    If your listeners don’t remember the idea you shared, you must improve your technique
  • To wrap up...
  • Storytelling is a useful way to make your talk more engaging
    Listeners remember stories more because they have a beginning, middle, and end
    They relate to them because stories feel more down-to-earth and familiar
  • I always suggest outlining your talk before jumping into presentation design or trying to write about a topic
    Think about your audience – they are the end users of your talk
    Make sure that sub-stories in your talk are relatable, simple, and on-topic
  • Thank you so much!
    If you have questions, send me a tweet or email
  • ×