Storytelling Tips Part 1: Brene Brown

There is so much that we can learn from watching other speakers.

In this 3 part series I’m going to focus specifically on ‘story’; how different speakers use it, and to what effect.

At the time of writing this, Brene Brown’s ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ talk is the fourth most watched on TED. There are multiple reasons why it has connected with so many people. Her ability as a ‘storyteller’ is one of them, so it is really worth watching the talk through the lens of ‘story’ to analyse and learn from what she is doing.

1) She starts the talk with a story, and does so in a simple and conversational way…
“So, I’ll start with this…a couple of years ago….”

She includes dialogue – replaying parts of the conversation in the scenario. While it is light and humorous, it still has a clear point; it is a key moment that introduces her as a ‘researcher-storyteller’.

2) Having introduced herself and her role to us, she then goes back in time professionally and chooses another relevant story to set context, in a human and fun way. Again, she does so simply and effectively with:
“This is where my story starts…”

3) She continues to share the trajectory of her career and research through stories – selected for relevance, and shared in a conversational way. For example, the first meeting with her therapist, Dianna, is brought to life through the dialogue and accompanying facial expressions and reactions. We are engaged in human terms, and with humour. And even drawn in directly by Brene when she pauses and acknowledges…
“…as you know…it’s not going to turn out well…”

Overall, this is an excellent talk to watch for how naturally stories can be woven throughout; stories as key moments, that all add up and connect to the over-arching theme.