Pick-Up Artist Tips: Storytelling in Action on VH1
Posted on October 27th, 2010
Okay guys, this is "Part II" of the storytelling newsletter.
In "Part I" we covered why storytelling is important and how it can improve your game dramatically.
Now that you are all excited to start using storytelling and understand why it is so powerful we are going to work on constructing your very own epics!
In "Part I" there were two things I asked of you
One was to create a list of 7-10 moments in your life worth sharing, and the other was to write down 5 things about your identity that you want people to know about you.
We are going to start out working with these things.
First lets take out the 7-10 story ideas and cut them down to 5 solid ideas, cross off ones that you think may not seem to interesting to other people or ones that were "you kind of had to be there" stories.
Now that you got 5 solid ideas down we are going to just focus on constructing 3 solid stories so you can go out and start using them immediately.
To narrow it down, reflect on these 5 stories, which ones do you have the most emotional connection too, which ones do you feel the most interested in sharing with other people and which ones do you think could captivate and relate to your audience.
For now, your main demographic with these stories is women, so focus on which ones you think a woman is more interested in hearing. (Any women can become interested in any story if delivered properly, but if you have a good story about you watching dirty videos and eating pizza, it may be better left for the guys)
Also feel free to ask your friends about which story subjects they would be more interested in hearing to help narrow it down to 3 solid concepts.
And of course I'm sure there were still some of you out there that were to modest to come up with 10 ideas and only got around three, so I guess that makes your job easier.
I said I would do this exercise along with you, however, critiquing all 3 of my stories will take too long so we are just going to use one of my story concepts and build it from the ground up through the techniques I show you.
Now I am going to try to discard all the information on storytelling that I know and jot this story down from scratch (This actually happened to me the other day, so I figure this is a prime example)
"So the other day I am at club voodoo with my friends and I am going around making some new friends and having a good time. Well this one guy somehow works his way into my group but then ends up not leaving us alone all night, and he was a really annoying person that you just don't want to talk to. He kept making every interaction in the club awkward and would not leave until he actually gets a hint and goes home."
Okay, pretty annoying story...I know, but we can turn this into something awesome.
First we need to understand the 3 components of a good story.
The first component, is "The Hook Question"
The object of the hook question is to make sure everyone in the group you are telling the story gets involved.
You use the hook question to captivate the group and the hook question is the line you deliver to introduce your story.
When using the hook question make sure you have the attention of EVERYONE in the group before you start going into the story, if one person is not paying attention and they tune in halfway through your story, they are going to have no idea what is going and potentially pull the entire group away.
Make eye contact and get a response or at least a nod from every member of the group before beginning your story.
There are two different types of hook questions.
An open ended hook question and a yes or no hook question.
I feel open ended hook question are better because it gets your audience more involved with the story you are about to tell, but a yes or no one is good cause it gets you right into the story.
So a possible open ended hook question for my story would be "How do you deal with people who you just want to leave you alone?"
A possible yes or no hook question would be "Have you ever been to club voodoo?"
So let's add this to the story... (Find a hook question for your example stories as well)
I like open ended hook questions more so to start my story in the interaction I would say
Me: "Hey guys...how do you deal with people when you just can't get them to leave you alone?!"
Group: "blah blah"
Me: "Yeah that's interesting so check this out...the other day I am at club voodoo...(rest of story)
Now that you have the hook question down, we are going to rewrite our stories to demonstrate aspects of identity because the next step is to demonstrate personality.
There are a number of ways of doing this but for now lets go to our list of 5 things that you want to convey in your identity. Try to fit as many into the story as you can.
My 5 things were:
I am a musician
I am a very social person
I have a high and fun energy
I have a good sense of humor
I am interested in video and photography
Now you want to try to at least fit 3 of your 5 things into the story, but if its awkward and seems out of place then just get at least 1 or 2 in. You need one though, but the very manner you deliver the story may convey a lot about yourself.
Other ways to convey personality is to act out your characters. Bring them to life in your stories.
Another important aspect to expressing personality in your stories is by speeding up your voice during moments of excitement and slowing it down during more intense moments to create tension.
You should always have tension build up to excitement or your audience will have a feeling of lack of resolution but that is the last component of a story that I will get into shortly.
Speeding up, pauses, and slowing your voice down is hard for me to sow you through a newsletter, but when you recite your stories out loud you will gain a natural since of where each belongs and will improve through reactions with your audience.
So now I am going to rewrite my story as it stands to convey my personality...
Me: "Hey guys...how do you deal with people when you just caaaaannt (exaggerated can't to show frustration with the situation and convey more personality) get them to leave you alone?!"
Group: "blah blah"
Me: "Yeah that's interesting so check this out...the other day I am at club voodoo and I walk in with a group of my friends and random people we met on the way (social) and there is a decent amount of people in the club, we are all having a great time (fun) and meeting lots of cool new people (social).
Well this one guy somehow works his into my "group" (putting finger quotes around it) and he just has this vibe. Like he is so out of place, he was walking around with a Harley Davison Motorcycle hat on and like this tainted banana colored polo (Painting this scene gets them laughing and displays humor and some understand of social norms and fashion.)
So my friends and I keep trying to away from him but he just won't back down, he would just follow us everywhere we went, buzzing around like a mosquito..(pause)..with a really bad taste in clothing (humor)...you would think he could get the hint when we were practically jogging away (act out slight jogging motion).
Eventually he finally goes away and we start to have a fun night again.
As you can see, the story starts to build up but it has no resolution, it just kind of ends.
The last component of story is the punch line. A punch line is often used for humor and ties up the story. Its biggest importance is to let the audience know it's over. It can be one line or much more...
To successfully deliver the punch line to your story, you need to create a dramatic build up by slowing down your words and then once the comic relief or resolution comes, you speed the conversation back up.
The punch line can be a small extension of the story to bring further resolution to the issue. This is where you can get creative and give some lamer stories a much cooler ending.
The actual ending to my story involves the creepy guy going into the bathroom, some guy that was annoyed by him jokingly bumping into him while the creepy was using the urinal, and the creepy guy pissed on the front of his pants, got embarrassed and left.
Now, first off, it was kind of rude on that one guy's part and I don't want to associate myself with friends like that. Also...a guy pissing on himself is an odd thing to share during the initial interaction.
So I am going to do a little story morphing by combining a similar, less gross incident that happened that night.
Nothing wrong with changing up some incidents if it makes things more entertaining...after all...it's a "STORY"
So the updated story with the new punch line now goes:
Me: "Hey guys...how do you deal with people when you just caaaaannt get them to leave you alone?!"
Group: "blah blah"
Me: "Yeah that's interesting so check this out...the other day I am at Club Voodoo and I walk in with a group of my friends and random people we met on the way and there is a decent amount of people in the club, we are all having a great time and meeting lots of cool new people. Well this one guy somehow works his into my "group" and he just has this vibe. Like he is so out of place, he was walking around with a Harley Davison Motorcycle hat on and like this tainted banana colored polo. So my friends and I keep trying to avoid him but he just won't back down, he would just follow us everywhere we went, buzzing around like a mosquito...with a really bad taste in clothing...you would think he could get the hint when we were practically jogging away. Anyway...my friends and I get away from him and are on the top floor and we make a super tall pyramid out of energy drink cans. (Illustrate structure with arms). Then all of a sudden, the creepy guy weasels his way onto the floor and sits down at our table...and like a jackass he tries to add a can to the structure. (Start slowing things down for the punch line) Little did he know...that although the Red Bull on the top of the structure was opened...it was full...so this guy tries to add his can to the top then BAM!...................the whole structure falls right into his lap and the filled soda can pours all over his crotch! It looked like he wet his pants! His face turns beat red and he just runs downstairs and we assume he left the club cause we didn't see him again...I don't know what the big deal is...I thought it was hilarious! (Final punch line, they know the story is over)
Now if you have done these three steps to your stories, you got some great stuff on your hands.
HOWEVER....there is still a few more sprinkles you are going to want to add to your story sunday.
These things are the secret little tips of successful storytelling.
The first and most important is creating check in points.
Check in points are mini questions you throw into your story throughout to make sure you have the audiences full attention. It gets them more involved.
Examples are "That ever happen to you?" "Don't you hate when that happens?" "You know what I mean?"
Just make sure they are not obvious and sounding like you are taking time out for them to go into detail about your check in point question.
Another good way to check in is to compare aspects of your story to the current situation you are in. ex. "Kind of like that over there" "Reminds me of her (point to person)."
You should at least have two check in points near the start and in the middle. If you are doing everything right, your audience will be captivated and waiting for the build up of the punch line so you won't need one near the end.
If you start to see someone looking away, throw one out to regain focus.
An example in a passage of my story would be:
"Like he is so out of place, he was walking around with a Harley Davison Motorcycle hat on and like this tainted banana colored polo. You know when someone is clearly just lost and not sure what he or she is doing....kind of like that guy over there (point to someone similar)."
You don't always need a full response with your check in points. A nod is perfectly okay when regaining focus of the audience.