TED Conversations

Arjun Adamson

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What is great storytelling?

What great TED talks demonstrate are a refined art in storytelling. But what does that really mean? How you define storytelling? What are the components of it, what are the principles, and what are the implications?

My perspective, (that I'm hoping you will build on, or contest)
Great storytelling is ultimately about capturing elegant context to the complexity and nuances of life.


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    Oct 11 2011: Great storytelling attempts to draw the listener in by connecting to their inner self and appealing to one's commonality.
    It is so easy to be drawn in when the topic affirms what one already believes and it is this connection that binds the story teller to the audience.
    It is much more difficult to connect when the subject matter is foreign or opposes the listeners view point, the good communicator must play the periphery of the topic and slowly bring the listener in with intelligent discourse for sure, but mostly with appeals to the emotion.
    New information is always difficult to assimilate and so the great communicator must weave a story that educates the listener in increments that is sufficient to communicate, a specific point of view or set of facts, but not overwhelm.
    The great storyteller leaves the listener believing that he/she had been affirmed even when the information presented may have never been exposed to that listener before.
    "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still" We've all heard this.
    Great storytellers, communicators do not attempt to change opinions, they attempt to change minds and so their appeal becomes much more personal and sincere.
    They bring an honesty to the topic that people may relate to rather than react to. It's all about relationships and not revelation, connection rather than cementing.
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      Oct 11 2011: Well said Brian. I also agree that it's connecting with the audience, and steering them into a perspective by first relating with where they are. Storytelling is kind of like 'user experience design' with thoughts.
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        Oct 11 2011: Agreed Arjun.
        I have listened to some talks here on TED that have been truly inspiring, in each case the speaker connected with me in a way that made it impossible to for me to tune out. The essence of what they wished to communicate came after they established the personal connection that, like you've said was a "user (friendly) experience".
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        Oct 13 2011: i like that definition!
        i share the ideas of Brian. maybe it will be useful to think about some designs for that.
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      Oct 11 2011: I could not agree you more.

      Irironically, according to you, then, in order to be effective, a great story teller must be a great listener to people's reason, people's emotions, and the relevance of their lives :-).

      I love it.
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        Oct 11 2011: Absolutely Jeong-Lan, great communicators, storytellers are great listeners and students of the human condition.

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