When you break it down to the molecular level, diamond is just carbon. Who would think that such a common substance could take its form in a beautiful and strong stone? With the right temperature and pressure, even an element as mediocre as carbon can be transformed into something highly valued.
Words, words, words. Information. Data. It’s everywhere. Replicating. In an era of the infinite generation of words, what becomes important is the ability to shape words into a narrative of high value. Don’t be fooled – this is no easy task. Just like the diamond undergoing specific temperature and pressure, for words to carry timeless value, they need to be treated and woven into a meaningful narrative.
As a leader in your industry, you may be overloaded with information. You are able to articulate yourself well (otherwise you wouldn’t have been in the position you’re in). But a story – a narrative – is an ongoing organic process which is constantly developing and needs attention. In preparation for upcoming speeches, let the five elements of a narrative be your guiding star.
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Setting: Your audience needs context. This orientates your narrative to make sense in a particular space and time. The setting or context grounds the narrative, creating a place from which the message of a story can emerge.
Plot: Sequence a series of events in a way which builds momentum, creating a sense of adventure. Let the fundamental principles of cause and effect build the plot up to a climax and then let it resolve.
Characters: You are a character. What is your character? The audience may not know this. Indirectly demonstrating your character helps to build an authentic bond with your audience. Position yourself in the narrative in a way that shows the people who you are.
Conflict: Narratives are centered around problems which need to be solved. Display your topic’s use by illustrating how it moves to solve a problem. Conflict builds tension which is the driving force of a narrative.
Theme: Conveying your theme may be the most difficult to weave into your speech. Nuances in language and your performance send subconscious messages to your audience. Ask yourself what you want your audience to feel and remember. When they think of your speech, how should they feel?
As you prepare your next speech, remember that it has the power to transform lives. Give your speech thought, attention and practice. Nurture your words into a narrative that makes sense, connects with your audience, and gives your character the justice it deserves.
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