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How to Give a [TED Worthy] Power of Storytelling Talk

DISCLAIMER: This is likely in bad taste and not nearly as funny (or at all) as I thought. I have and continue to commit a few of the sins I lampoon (the campfire photo is usually on slide 1). The real point is to wonder why so few people talk about storytelling in a presentation format that fails to use the elements of story they describe?

You can download this and easily refine it to talk about the Power of Storytelling in Hot Dog Sales or the Power of Storytelling in Whittling Wood or the Power of Storytelling in Street Cleaning.

I watched a video of a guy giving a talk on Improv — and HE WAS USING A SLIDE DECK! Maybe it’s me, but if you talk about the web, use the web to talk about it; if you talk about improv, do it improv style.

I await the scathing comments.

And if you hate it, consider it as a outlier form of storytelling– I created a fictitious character in my head that is giving this talk. In the end? He sells tons of books. You might need to watch it a few times backwards in Portuguese to understand it. That’s art, baby.

If you prefer something more academic and serious, try this talk.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I take your chicken, your self promoting storyteller and give you the biggest rock:

    Where oh where do you find these things? I teach people about the difference between language content and structure – this video is such a great example. I get them to do the number game – where they have a conversation just using numbers. This video will be a much more fun way to introduce the topic.

    You are funny!

  2. This is really funny Alan – both of them. I’ve passed along the chicken video to 3M. Even those scientists and engineers who consider themselves humor-challenged are going to get a chuckle out of this one. And did you open the pdf of the paper? It’s a complete package. LOL

    Your storytelling slide presentation was a hoot! No need to watch it backward in Portuguese, and no scathing comments from me. 🙂 This is like the way John Stewart delivers the news. (Which is how I perfer to receive it.) In 22 slides I learned about Freytag’s Triangle, the heroic journey cylce, and the importance of and how to properly cite your images. Not only was I introduced to the storytelling concepts, but I went onto the net to learn more about them. You both taught and engaged your student to delve in deeper. BRILLIANT!

    And one more gem…. I was going to ask you if I could get a copy of your ppt file. I saw that you were using Slideshare, and you allowed downloading of your slides, which I did. Two more possible learnings: You can post slide presentations to a site called Slide Share. You can download presentations in PPT format from others.

    I’d like to share this with the 3M-DS106 Salon when we do the storytelling unit. I may adjust your Freytag and heroic journey slides to relate more directly to 3Mers. (But really it’s so I can learn more about the concepts as I play with them.)

    This is BRILLIANT!

  3. Jeez, Alan is in rare form today!

    I am one of thise people who presents a lot on digital storytelling, and thank God I never learned to use PointPoint!

    Recently, I presented at TYCA at Cornish in Seattle. It seems reasonable to SHOW some digital stories to the assembled masses, but for that, the host school might even need to provide a VGA cord.

    That didn’t happen , so I simply refused to fuss with the tech. I did the presentation Old Skool, on my feet, with body, brain, and voice.

    No one walked out, and they were still standing around asking questions when it was over because as Alan points out, nothing tells a story like improv.

    I loved all your crazy examples. I start teaching a new digital storytelling class to faculty this afternoon, and I take your point to heart.

  4. Heh! Nicely done.

    The appeal to Hollywood fascinates me. Story presenters keep returning to it – and mainstream Hollywood, to boot. That Future of Storytelling MOOC did this. What about audio, or text, or gaming?

    1. One might argue that audiences return for it too;who is the chicken who is the egg? The principles of what is effective play out in audio and text but so much is done on what is not shown, what the audience fills in. Modern commercial film relies on the full showing (sfx, stunts, action) and more rarely tells by not showing. Games are of course an interesting outlier and you have more than once made the case for the narrative set up. I wonder how often the story gets sidelined to the pursuit if the game play

      1. True. Audiences are well trained to tv and Hollywood by now.

        There’s a similar issue w/tv news, which is staggeringly stupid, but clearly suits some audience tastes.

        Games represent a hybrid form, in their full diversity. Some elements are classic tv/Hollywood, such as action cliches and the reduction of context. Other elements are more powerful, such as better interactivity and deeper context. That’s where I have most of my hopes these days.

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