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This is a rebroadcast. The episode originally ran in July 2019.
Matthew Dicks is an author, columnist, teacher, storyteller, podcaster, blogger, playwright, and more. He is the co-founder and artistic director of Speak Up, a storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England as well as a weekly podcast, and the author of Storyworthy. He’s also the CEO of StoryworthyMD, where he teaches storytelling online. He consults with Fortune 500 companies, universities, attorneys, entrepreneurs, the clergy, and many more on storytelling and communication. Matthew is a 58-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 9-time GrandSLAM champion and has told stories for a wide range of events, radio shows, and performance venues. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Elysha, and their two children.
07:26 With his wife runs an organization called “Speak Up” which puts on storytelling events
08:13 The science of telling a good story, i.e., public speaking in an engaging way
10:15 Basic storytelling principles:
- Know what a story is: a moment in your life that is transformational and reflects change over time, as opposed to a simple retelling of chronological events.
- Ask yourself: Am I speaking about a moment in my life that changed me in some way? You can’t really change your audience with a story unless that story changed you.
- Share something of yourself, that makes you authentic and vulnerable. Being vulnerable to others also makes you safe to others, and they will be more willing to be vulnerable with you.
- Set out to have your listeners feel like they connected with you in the end.
- Showing emotion is acceptable so long as you can speak your truth in a clear way.
21:10 Teaching from scripture versus sharing of yourself
- It is hard for people to care about the scriptural content or lesson unless they can see a relatable example of application from a person they trust.
24:26 Using our own stories versus using “borrowed” stories, e.g., using a story given in General Conference in a sacrament meeting talk
- Telling your own story is the best way to be authentic.
26:50 Improving our storytelling:
- “Homework for life”: Before going to bed, ask yourself “what’s the most story-worthy moment of today?” Write it down. Explore why and how the experience changed you.
- Matt has noticed that he has changed every day of his life, as documented in his “Homework for life” spreadsheet.
- Frame of the story is most important: what is the end, and what is the beginning?
- Must have some entertainment value.
- Jump right into the story. Stay within the story.
- Remember the story without memorizing–rehearse! Tell the story in “scenes”.
- How to tell a story “on the spot”: what does something mean to me? Listeners should know how you are different at the end of the story from the beginning.
- Asking “why?” five times about your storyworthy moments. I.e.: Today I was changed by X experience. Why did X experience change me? Why A? Because B. But, why B? Because C. Why C? Because D. Etc.
65:49 Reviewing and deconstructing the story
72:25 How storytelling has helped him become a better person
Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling
TED Talk: Homework for Life
Speak Up Storytelling
Art of Manliness podcast episode
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I first became interested in learning how to tell stories effectively as a teenager by listening to great storytellers at General Conference. I wanted to be able to teach in a way that would lead people to rethink. When one of those storytellers confessed to embellishing his stories, I committed to being very accurate as well.
I love to hear stories in any teaching setting. I love to tell stories when I teach because I can see the engagement of the listeners and the enlightenment in their eyes.
Wilford Woodruff taught, “I would rather hear men tell their own experience…than hear any other kind of preaching that ever saluted my ears.” (The Contributor, Vol. X, February 1889, No.4)