-How to tell a story: Ira Glass

"Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap." - Ira Glass

Here's something we found that's really interesting. Ira Glass a veteran radio personality, and host of the beloved radio show This American Life, offers a helpful insight on how to take basic, mundane, boring facts and turn them into compelling content that attracts and holds attention.

In these videos Ira, gives advice to those making short stories such as vloggers. There are good pieces of wisdom in there that we can apply to presentation in the broader sense as well.

Ira Glass Part I (on storytelling basics)

Summary of Part I
(The following is an excerpt from Garr Reynold's blog)
The old way: Have a topic statement then fill out the facts that support your statement. (This is not to say that logic and evidence and support are not important. Of course, they are important, but they're rarely sufficient.)
In storytelling there are two basic building blocks, says Ira Glass:

(1) The anecdote, a sequence of actions, a story in its purest form, one thing following from another (rather than just disjointed "facts").

(1a) Raise questions. Provide the "bait." The anecdote should raise a question right from the beginning. Implied in any question that you raise, however, is that you are going to answer it. Constantly raise questions and answer them. The shape of the story is that you are throwing out questions and answering them along the way.

(2) The moment of reflection. What is the key point? What does this all mean? Why have I asked you to sit and listen for 30 min, etc. It is not just a series of facts/events. Many people get the first part, they tell an interesting sequence of events, but in the end it fails because it doesn't say anything new, it did not have meaning.

And sometimes people have the reflection part and the question is clear in their mind, but they fail to put it in a sequence that compels people to follow and engage.In a good story you need both -- you can flip back and forth between the two. The Anecdote and the Moment of Reflection are interwoven to make a story.

Read the complete article, and watch three more clips from the same interview, that follow at: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2007/03/ira_glasstips_o.html .
And if you want to skip the videos, the article also summarizes Ira's main points.

Following are the links to the rest of Ira Glass' videos from the same interview:
Part II (on finding great stories)
Part III (on good taste, persevering)
Part IV (on finding your own voice)

Enjoy telling stories!