A story that is too slick is here today gone tomorrow.
A story that shows human flaws, the good and the bad of people and life, and their journey through it sticks. I had a stark reminder of this the other evening. I gave a presentation where I included outlining 5 key elements of a great story. Trouble was I only spoke about 4. One person noticed and came up to me at the end of the presentation. What was the 5th point, she asked.
Mortified, I froze and couldn’t remember. I felt ridiculous, but emailed her the next day with the fifth point. It was: make sure there are twists and turns in a story, some surprise, some suspense. She and I saw the humour in the potential meaning that I had left the fifth point out as a test, surprise or element of suspense.
Great stories have set ups and pay offs, they have great architecture. I wish I had designed my presentation that way. I always work to improve the architecture of my story.
I thought I had ruined the presentation, but the feedback has been great, so the flaws and my ‘being myself’ won out.
The other funny aspect to this is that a story I share is about freezing on stage in front a huge school audience when I was a teenager. In little ways today, I can still freeze. I’ve told lots of friends and family about my messing up the fifth point in my presentation. They laugh and nod knowingly. Owning it and getting over it has become part of the story.
I have to admit fairly and squarely, I am not a numeric person particularly. Following a linear structure is not easy for me. When I speak, I go with the flow and weave together stories. But I will always work at structure, to serve those that need it.