This past week in Ultraspeaking has been about storytelling. I struggled with this, but I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of reliving moments (see also: video example) with help and examples from the coaches (thanks Aman, Santosh!). Some notes from my perspective:
- Find the joy of irrelevance. Try telling a story that doesn't seem directly relevant to the game's prompt. Find something you want to talk about and who cares if you can tie it back if it's a good story. Forget about that for now.
- Feelings first, not facts. Don't tell anything dubious, but don't agonize too much about whether you remember the exact details correctly. Nobody's counting. The feelings can do the heavy lifting; the facts are there as the skeleton for the rest.
- Watch out for commentary or narration. Anything retrospective, like "I didn't know this at the time, but..." Or: "Now I think that..." This is inherently taking me out of the moment because I'm talking about the moment from after the fact.
- Watch out for tangents. Specifically: While I'm telling one story and speaking I need to watch out that I don't autocomplete myself into another story. I need to go deep on my stories rather than wide — so it is better that I stick with one instead of wandering off.
- Watch out for statements. This often comes up for me when I'm talking about something that I read or watched — a moment in a book or a TV show or a movie. I can tell a story about the way I experienced that moment, but not if I'm too busy describing the moment to talk about my experience of it.
- On a similar note, watch out for abstracts. I found this happens a lot with emotions. Sad, happy, etc. The trouble is that these are so abstract they don't have any texture to them. I want to pull more texture from my memories. It helps find the energy, keep me on track, and makes the story more interesting.
For a lot of these I say watch out, because I'm not saying "don't do 'em." On that I have no strong opinion. But I found it useful to be aware of them. Noticing these things in the moment gives me the choice of if I want to go that direction. As mentioned in this list, I need to learn to go deep on stories, and so the things I'm watching out for reflect that.