|Workshop design and facilitation|
by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, CGP, MT
The craft of storytelling is key to engaging listeners' rapt attention. "Studies shows that when people are presented with facts and figures, smaller areas of the brain are activated which indicates that information is being processed. However, when those same facts and figures are packaged in a story, the entire brain becomes engaged," according to Inc magazine in What Science Can Teach Us About Capturing An Audience's Attention.
- Sensory details;
- Emotional details and energy;
- Story structure;
- Narrative sections mixed with in-the-moment scenes
When a storyteller steps into the character of raging father, reassuring mother, high school crush, or any of the other characters that populate a story, the listener can experience the rush of fear an abused child endures, but from the safety of an observer’s role. When the brain experiences rich imagery and emotionally compelling moments the story has the greatest impact and is more likely to be remembered. (from my article "When Stories Kill: Its The Brain Science That Did It" on medium.com)
According to research published by neuroscientist Paul Zak, stories organized according to the 5-beat story structure are most effective for impacting attitudes and motivating behavior. It is the ideal guide for crafting a story that commands attention, generates empathy and impacts change. The 5 beats are:
Set-Up: What is the main character's situation or perspective with regard to this story. Set a story with important details that place the main character in a time, place and emotional state. Use sensory and emotional details to bring the audience into that emotional and physical space as much as possible.
Inciting Incident: something happens that impacts the main character's situation or perspective, and he/she must respond. A game-changing moment, an upset to the status quo, an unexpected turn of events. Bring immediacy - using imagery and sensory details to this part of the story as much as possible.
Rising Action: as a result of the inciting incident, the main character makes some choices, which have consequences, and impact the main character.
Climax: The rising action leads to a turning point - the emotional tension rises to a heightened intensity, possibly a breakthrough moment, a low point that forces a redirection or a high point that lights the way.
Transformation: Where this emotional journey takes the main character. What is changed as a result of having gone through this process? A shift in perspective, a letting go of an old role or belief, taking up a new approach or behavior.
Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, CGP, MT is a consultant/trainer and writer/performer. She is President of Lifetage, Inc a consulting/training company based in Smithtown NY, and host/creator of (mostly) TRUE THINGS, a game wrapped in a show featuring true stories - with a twist. She blogs about Applied Improvisation storytelling and creativity on medium.com. Follow her by clicking here.