Storytelling Diversified

Tomorrow I’m giving a presentation titled Collagen Biosynthesis Disorders: the Biomedical Impact of Abnormal Protein Coding to a room of masters and doctorate candidate students.

I like to find common threads in things I must do (presentations) with things I love (writing/acting, basically storytelling). In doing so, practicing one becomes like practicing aspects of the other and, if I can equate something dry to something exciting, it changes my attitude, motivation and the end result (and everything is more fun).

The common thread I found that links presenting health topics to writing fiction and acting/theatre? Communication.

“Nothing’s New” Generally Applies to All Three

Fiction: plots have all been used, basic motivations have been done, characters fall into stereotypes, etc.

Drama: example, Shakespeare’s only been done a zillion times.

Science (nonfiction): It’s the same. It’s overrun with old news (polypeptides, enzymes, hydrogen bonds) that some health science students might be glad to never hear about again.

Similar to crafting fiction or being the n-th person to play Iago ever, the skill and challenge lies in presenting the old things in intriguing, unprecedented ways. In the delivery.

That’s how I look at presentations now. Like storytelling practice. Nonfiction performances. Sure, my audience is required to be there but they aren’t required to be intellectually stimulated or to remember anything after I finish (they won’t be tested on the material); that’s on me.

It all matters: the opening, design, subject concentration, word choice, flow, energy (if I’m not excited by my topic, why should anyone else be?), confidence (in body language, expression, gestures), knowledgeability/authority but as a contemporary versus as an instructor (so it’s “us together” instead of “me and them”; relatability), etc.

Have you ever listened to a speech with your full attention not because the topic was any  more riveting than any other topic but because the speaker made it so? How cool would it be to able to communicate like that? In person and on the page?

The audience doesn’t owe me a thing and they won’t simply give me their genuine interest. They shouldn’t. That’s normal. I’m supposed to work for it. In the words of Tom Venables: “Audience is earned.”

3 thoughts on “Storytelling Diversified

  1. missyjean says:

    I so appreciate the perspective here! Storytelling is indeed an art form that can be used connect different disciplines and worldviews, which is so needed in today’s world. Much admiration has gone to master storytellers that have crossed my path in the past.

    And communication as the common thread? Brilliant! I went to a National Geographic conference a few years back (thankfully the environmental ed organisation I was working for got comp tickets), and the round table discussion at lunch was focused around how to communicate new scientific findings relevant to how we together will shape the future world for better or worse. It was fascinating to be in the room for this conversation, and your post here reminded me of it.

    Kudos to you for thought provoking but so on-point content here, and I look forward to more (especially skletches!) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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