Event ID: 1638073
Event Started: 10/23/2010 3:14:07 PM ET
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Okay everybody, right on schedule it's 3:51. The last speaker of the day will talk with us about our second conference bread which is -- thread which is communication.Dr. Kendall Haven has asking not to read his full bio, but you can find it on the thumb drive in your bag of goodies. Dr. Haven has had years of full-time experience as a storyteller. His researches on story structure and how human minds receive narrative or experiential information. His latest book is story proves,Chesapeake D-F ---Chesapeake D-F the science behind the startling power of story. You will see his books on the table back there. So, I will turn it over. Speak -- [ Indiscernible - multiple speakers ]
Thank you. Many staying for entire day, likely it is raining outside. -- Luckily it is raining outside. A quick word here on the title, one of the themes that I will run through in the next hour is that your mind and the mind of every person that you communicate to letter really is hard wired and preprogram to communicate with itself through story terms of story structures. Understanding those terms and that structure is a useful and handy thing to anyone who wants to usefully communicate. To set this in context, if you take the word storytelling, for you all it has been clear to me sitting in the room for today that you brim over and effervescent with enthusiasm and information. With experience, your job is to effectively communicate that to others which leads us to storytelling. Storytelling has two parts. The telling is the process. It is how you communicate it. We are not going to talk about that, it is another topic and a topic for another day. Today, the topic is the -- I am going to fast here -- I am looking at the story have this afternoon. What is story and how does it work? I will say it this way, it turns out on the same day in New York Catholic priest and a New York cab driver both died. We know they pose tied on the same day because they were on the same bus heading up to the pearly gates. The bus stop, the doors open and the priest rose and sneer down condescendingly at the cabbie. He said excuse me, I believe I will be the one going in first. St. Peter opened up the dates -- the gates and St. -- and the priest proceeded to move on three. St. Peter motioned the cabbie to come on in. An hour later the doors opened and he said it is your turn, step right this way. The priest started to march on through and then he stopped. He said, you know that this is supposed to last for all eternity. I don't want to enter carrying a grudge. I need to know, how come the cabbie got to go in first. I was on the earth for 40 years and was doing the Lord's work. I never committed any of the seven deadly sins are violated the 10 Commandments. You name it, I never did it, how come he got to go in first. St. Peter smiles and says we have been watching and when you preach, people slept -- when you preached, people slept. When he drove, people prayed. [ Laughter ] you see, it is about getting the results. The research is very clear on this. The way we approach this thing called story is counterproductive. It is as counterproductive as possible. We are only as our worst enemies when trying to communicate through story terms. It is worth taking two minutes to look at that structure and exactly how that works. 30 seconds on my background so you understand what I bring to the table. Yes, I have a doctorate in oceanography. I was raised in Southern California and I was a surfer kid. After going to West Point, I did not know that you ended up in the Army after going there. It was kind of a shock. I spent five years in the Army and I had two choices to get a job or going to grad school. You know which one I picked. I have a doctorate in what was going to become coastal zone management, but we call the marine resource management. It took another eight or nine years the -- to be convinced that the term would stick. I got out and got a job at Lawrence Berkeley Lab which is a national research lab. I lead a small group that was just forming to do environmental assessments of advanced energy systems that was mandated. It's a time to do environmental assessments for DOA which was like -- DLE which was like an oxymoron. -- DOE Which was like am oxymoron. I had a little group that looked at oceanic systems. I had free time. I got married and my wife was a quintessential typical hippie girl who wanted to have the experience of childbirth and pregnancy. I think she thought that this thing would arrive as a mantra chanting -- it turned out to be a baby. It was not nearly as exciting as she thought it would be. When I got married to my wife, the kid was heading for five. When I had time in my daily wanderings around or what you would call now, flex time, I would pick up the kid and taken to the park for a couple of hours to get my sister a break. What I found out was that the kid did not know enough yet that he was getting tired and say that he needed to lie down and rest. He would keep running until he ran over the emotional lives and turn didn't -- the emotional cliff and turned into in a screaming banshee. I found out the only way that I could slow him down was to put him into the sandbox and it's all him down. -- And tell them stories. He would plop down there and listen and other kids would materialize. I swear they were hiding under the stand waiting for story time. They asked me to start over like I was supposed to remember what I had said. Then whoever brought up those kids to the park would hunker down wondering what the kids were listening to. They would come over and say I don't have to call the cops, he is telling stories. More often than not, they would stay. There would be days when I would look up from the stories that I was flat making up for my nephew at offering -- a ring of 80 to 100 people that were standing around listening. There was no guarantee that the store was -- the story was going anywhere. They did not seem to care. Then one day, it hit me, if I was sitting in that sandbox reading a report that I was paid reasonably good money that I was paid by the federal government to read. Not one of these people would stay. Somehow they got that it was a story and we listen to stories differently than we listen to any other narrative structure. We treat them differently than we treat any other narrative structure. Stories are frighteningly powerful things. We cannot think about it very much and take it for granted. Literally when we were doing departments for the Department of Energy, we would write 300 page reports. In the budget for every project we did out there in Berkeley, we would have to build in travel costs and about three or four days worth of time for someone to carry copies of the reports back to Washington in March up and down at the Department of Energy, this is when they just moved out to Germantown, baking the people who ordered us to do the report to read it. We had to write for every report that we did a six page summary that went on the front. In front of that was a two-page summary and in front of that was a one-page summary which was called an executive summary. In front of that, was a one paragraph summary and I've forgotten the name of that one. We could not get the people who had ordered us to read -- to write the reports to read that one paragraph. We would beg them in the office to please read it. And they would say just tell me what it says. They wanted the story. So, I dropped out of science and became a four -- a full-time storyteller. I was 36 at the time and my family thought I was having a midlife crisis. Maybe they were right. I was have a question is why stories work. I was motivated to find out because the only reason I got papers to have audiences like I did. So, if I did not tell stories effectively, I did not pay rent.
So for the first decade or so that I was a storyteller it was all small experiences -- experiments that I was running every time I gathered an audience. I we get 20 to 30 audiences a week and I would be able to run a whole long series of experiments on any theory or aspect of storytelling that I could get my hands on to see what would work with a live audience and what didn't. It or nine years thereafter, I started to do serious research. I was challenged by some executives at NASA to prove that stories were a more effective way for outreach to communicate. At best, I would get a lot of antidotal information. Given enough anecdotal information, you can bring it into court. 4000 people claim to have seen the Loch Ness monster and that keeps the story alive. It does not matter that there is no ecosystem capable of supporting large fish in that big Lake. It does not matter that there has not been a skeleton found or there is no breeding population. 4000 people is seen and that is antidotal information. It is powerful. Then, I started to look at hard science such as evolutionary biology, clinical psychology, information. And have been overwhelmed by the cornucopia of available research. None of which was done to prove story structure, but it is all there and does in fact prove story structure. Everything that I am going to savor this afternoon is back up by -- backed up by a number of very credible studies. I'm not going to report the research itself, I wrote it in the book so I would not have to do that. If you want to look in the book that is back there, be my guest.
I want to show you what it means for you. Let me start with a question. How long on this planet have human beings been reading? Does anyone know that? That is supposed to be the next one. Why are we not going to the next one? -- The next one?. I can go back. There it is. About 200 years and that is Western Europe and North America. Many places in this world, the answer would be about 70 or 80 years. In many cultures, the mid-20th century involved into reading as a culture. It is a new activity. If you have any children, those logical argumentative forms and structures on which they are tested with standardized writing assessments about every other week for all of their school-aged years, how old are those? They are about 3200 years, the Greeks get credit for having codified those formally. Oldest writing? It depends on when you think pictographs became a formal written language. I talked to a number of research is -- researchers and the only thing they can all agree on them is that the first formal written language was cuneiform. That was about -- years ago. How long on this planet have human beings been telling stories? You can't stay forever because there have not been human beings forever. Most creatures to say that you have to have had a formal language before you can have a story. They're all researchers -- there are researchers that say the story came first and then the language, but I don't think they can prove it yet. Researchers will say the answer is 100,000 years. What does that mean? This was first proposed by evolutionary biologist and it has been tested to dip -- to death by developmental psychologists. One how the -- 100,000 years of relying on story structure and oral telling to archive all essential data, events, history, attitudes, values. It has evolutionary rewired human brain so that it or if you are hardwired to think in story terms. There is a narrow story net that is part of your brain that is hardwired to think in those specific terms and narrative elements that I will show you this afternoon that defined story structure. You were people and -- pre-programmed before birth to understand the meaning of story elements and story structures. That structure that we call effective story literally matches the mandates of the neural net that is hardwired into your brain. Of course, the problem is -- let's go a little further. We use story terms to create or make sense -- where is the pointer? The trouble is there are four buttons on here in my max is three for learning quickly. There is a button I don't really need. It is the make sense part that you will see in a little bit. What you will do with incoming information in order to make sense out of it. That is a pitfall that you need to be aware of if you want to communicate areas -- communicate.. -- Communicate. Master story and you master all forms of communication. The trouble is that you have done it all your life. This cool part is that the story net is located in the subconscious part of your brain and you don't even were -- and you are not even aware that it is operating. It is between your sensory organs and the conscious part of your brain, the frontal lobes. Information going to your frontal lobes filters through the story that -- story net. Literally, you turn all information in the story structures before it gets to your conscious mind. You can't not think in story terms. That explains to me something that I have worried about -- wondered about for many decades. Eight people were standing on the street corner and two-car smash into each other in the middle of the intersection. Big accident, police interview all eight people and get completely different stories on what happened and why. All eight people passed lie detector test. How can that be? Seven of them have to be lying. The answer is no, at the subconscious level they converted the information into story form to have them make it make sense for a went to their conscious minds. That is what is lodged in the conscious mind. That is a tiny example of what we will do to make things make sense. Now, because you always thought in story terms, it is like a fish trying to describe water. The only fish that has a chance of describing water is those who have been caught and thrown back as they are out of water for a while. But, we can throw up some game like experiences to get it and idea of how the story in your brain works. I'm ready give you two lines, I hope. Person number one says where is John? Person number two says well, I did not want to say anything, but I saw a green feed of use part -- parked in front of --. Explain to the person next to you the relationship between person number one, John and Carol? Turn the person next to you in do that. -- And to do that. Yes, some good stories are developing out there, I can see it from here. The most innocent story I ever heard was that Carol is a pie chef and John snuck out to break his diet. They get progressively more -- let's say John goes downhill from there. The point is this, did you say there is no connection between those two lines and there is no information that lets me connect those four people. There wasn't, you created on your own. You do that automatically. Let me go on one step further. By the way, all the slides that I am presenting up here are on the thumb drive. The order will be a little different than what I present, but they are all there. Again, the information is in the book. Do not feel like you have to write everything down. Let's go one step further with another demo. Person number one says hello John. Person number two says she, not here. Person number one says it's okay, Carol is gone home. You understand that, right? You notice that instantly what you did is that you are willing to take these persons lines and you have two choices. One is to say clearly this person is consumed too many California -- shops and is lost all touch with reality. Because, he is there in person number one is seen him. Obviously, he has lost his mind. What he said is that I'm going to change the context so that person number two effectively says pretend I am not here and pretend I am -- and pertained you never saw me. Because then it makes sense. You're willing to change factual content to make it make sense. You do it all the time. It is one of the great problems with science. People who do not have enough context with the science results the way they put up, will rather than say they cannot get it, will change the factual statements in the presentation or the article to have it make sense to them based on their current state of understanding. That is why stories -- story structure becomes important to people who write science.
Let me go back one. You do the same thing here, by the way. You read this line and instantly said that person number two could not wait to pass this on. Person number two has been hoping for a chance to spread this one around. You completely invalidated the factual statement and the source material to make it make sense to you the way you understood the peace. We do that all the time. Let's go for one more. One more quick demo. Peter went to the store, Fred died, Sherry went hungry and wept. You what -- you start making assumptions. You don't mind that we are violating grammar rules here. You assume that he prefers to Fred which actually refers to an out of come somewhere before Fred. You start to assumed cause-and-effect relationships between the people and that somehow it is about he, Fred and Cheryl. You think it is about Fred and that he died on the way to the store. Then you think that Sharon must've gone hungry because Fred died in the gutter with his packages. Either she is selfish and wept because she is still hungry or because she wept because her buddy Fred died. Depending on how harsh you want to be to Sharon, you think that she is selfish and only wants food or that she actually Mrs. Fred. You make these assumptions and -- Mrs. Fred -- misses Fred. You make these assumptions and human beings are programmed to do that. You go through a whole list of assumptions that I just went through. The point is, your mind is that all the time. Everyone else's mind does it all the time. To understand the process, gives you a lot more power when it comes to anticipating what you have to do to get your messages into someone else's active conscious mind and memory.
Let's go on. So, we have the central PCs and this is what the research clearly shows. This structure that I am calling story, provides -- information that more actively goes into memory and comes out of memory with less distortion and is more likely to come out of memory accurately and with less distortion than when it goes into memory any other way. It provides understanding, create sympathy, the things you want to do when communicating. -- Creates empathy, the things you want to do when you communicate. How do people's minds do that warp? One is that we are programmed to work on partial information. We do not require complete information to make assumptions. We make assumptions all the time. Then, you base the assumptions that you make on prior knowledge. We will talk about prior knowledge before we go into storage structure. Prior knowledge is knowledge that you have in your head about anything. It is an amazingly powerful force. If new information comes into you through sensory organs, if in your mind you can related to an existing bank prior knowledge, you capture that context and relevance. The information becomes relevant to you in your are likely to remember it. If you have no bank of prior knowledge, you tend to instantly discount it and forget it. It never really makes it into active memory at all, not even short-term. That is the problem with introducing new topics, particularly new science topics. There will be a number of them that have no banks of relevant prior knowledge. When you give them information, there is no context in which they can try to remember it. The story itself relates to a bank of prior knowledge and structural knowledge about that story. If you have those first little bits of information that you want to get across to someone within the context of story, like being in the Marines in World War II on some little Pacific island. Story structure is relevant to them. They can remember the story in the structure and hold with that those few little bits of introductory topical information that and provides the context for the next set of information that you want to share. You build up the ranks of prior knowledge -- banks of prior knowledge. I want to demonstrate how powerful prior knowledge is. I want to show you seven groups of letters. I'm going to give you 10 seconds that I want you to memorize the seven groups. I haven't shown them to you yet, I'm getting my watch ready. Go. Okay, how many remember? Do you remember all seven groups? You recognize all the let her straight in there was no problem with comprehensive -- comprehension? You know all 26 letters very well, why can she remember them? Because, you had no context. If I change the spaces between the letters and only change the spaces and I will invoke prior knowledge and you will remember even a week later what the groups are. There they are. That is prior knowledge. One more demo. Seven's -- -- seven sentences. -- Were there any vocabulary words and their you didn't know? You have no clue as to who did what do you? If I change the banks of prior knowledge I could come in here next year and you would remember who did each of those. Santa Claus walked on the roof, Easter Bunny hid the eggs, George Washington hit the acts -- axe, Franklin flew the kite -- most kids think he was catching lightning bolts. In fact, he did not. And -- a scientist who was trying to duplicate was actually hit by lightning and died. Edison flipped the switch, Shakespeare wrote the flight. It is laughable because you have prior knowledge for these things. From the back of the room this is going to look, and lets you have better eyesight than I do, little like a blur. I want to show you the paragraph. I want to show you how prior knowledge and story structure blend together in the human mind. The leaf fell into the stream -- the leaf fell into the scream and the ant climbed into it and shortly after a bird catcher came and loud -- and laid a trap in the tree. The noise they did fly away. -- Made the dove fly away. First, prior knowledge comes and you know that ants need water to survive. You also know that they cannot swim like a fish, although they can flow for a good while because surface tension will hold them up. Eventually they will drown. You know that the dove flew to the tree and pluck a leaf with his beak and then gravity carried it down to the water. Once a -- once you establish those basic physical characters, the story starts to make sense. Then you say, pluck the leaf on purpose. You describe -- you a scribe goal and motive to the dove and that the dove was trying to help the ant live. Now, the answer does the dove. -- owes The dove. Then the bird catcher comes and you automatically assume that the bird catcher was trying to get the dove. But it does not say that. -- So there is resolution at the end of the stories to you to be satisfied and go on. You do all those things in a blink of an eye and so does everyone who reads your work, listens to talk. The trouble is that they may not wait for you to get all of -- they made a way for you to give all of the information and they will get it wrong when they do. You are going to have to anticipate what they are we to do and plan around it.
So, we now going to family stories. When you were stood -- have you ever noticed that your family stories are more exciting than other families. Other family stories are pretty boring. When you were telling stories to an audience that you know, you automatically eliminate all information that you are sure that the audience hold in common. In family stories, that his character information, everybody knows the characters and you only get the plot. For you all, science communities are a family and you leave out an amazing amount of information when you tell stories to each other because you know that everyone you are talking to knows them. In fact, you do it so much, that you forget that people not part of this family don't know all of the information that you assume that the audience knows. So, we come to the curse of knowledge. This has been well researched. Once you remember what it is like to not know. If you are a teacher and you go on a shipping you are there for six weeks, you will not at the end of that voyage have a clue as to what you really thought it felt like at the beginning. Even if you wrote it down, you will not interpret it right. It takes a lot of work to be able to go back and retro think what someone needs to know in order to very quickly come up to speed where you already are. It is the great problem of science. The longer you are in the world of science, the more you deal with other people who are in the world of science and the deeper you go into telling family stories and the more you push out the public and make them think that you are speaking some alien speak. Of course, they always knew that scientists were boring and incomprehensible. It is because you are using -- you are talking to the family. What you have to do is get used to thinking of your audience. It is all about your audience. What do they know and what don't they know. What do they need and what don't they need? Not what you have to say and what you have to offer, it is what they need. Use their banks of prior knowledge and not yours. I have been using this term a lot in the last half-hour and you have heard it before over the course of the day. I want to make sure that before we go on that we are all comfortable with the term. It sounds like a silly question, but is there anyone who is unclear on what exactly a story is? Is everybody comfortable with that term? Good. What is the story?
By the way, that was not a rhetorical question. What is the story? Every one of you has a brain that is hardwired to think in terms of story, yet we are not very comfortable articulating what it is that we are talking about. Which, if course -- which of course, is one of the problems. -- Are they all stories, are some of the stories, or none of them stories? Which makes one of them a story or not a story? Isn't it interesting? You don't want to answer, do you? It always fascinates me that the way you are sitting in your seat right now in making sense of the world right now is through story structure. Yet, we are not quite sure exactly what it is that we do. The goal of becoming an effective communicator is the story process. We give it nomenclature so we can deal with it. The thing is that story does not refer to the contents. When people think story, they think of content. No, it is this structure and framework and the way you organize. Any material can be placed into story form. Any material can be taken out of story form. If you use story form because that structure exactly matches the demand of the hardwired neural story net, if you use the structure, it becomes an incredibly effective delivery vehicle that will guide the interpretation, the creation of meaning and the process of remembering information that you want to get across. So, what is the story? people will say that I wrote it and it is on page 3 why doesn't anybody get it? They think they've done their part because they put it on paper. If you want to put on paper, do it at home, don't give it to anyone and read it yourself. Your job is to get your information out of your fingers and out of your mouth, it is to logic into the minds of your intended audience. That is a harder process than just getting it out of your mouth. But, it is really what you are after. That is why story and story structure are so valuable to you. An analogy from the world of optic lasers.
I am not someone who has dealt with luck -- with optic lasers, but this came to me in a discussion with people who were. Let's say you want to send a laser dirty 5 miles downwind. You wanted to arrive at a receiving station accurately and with all information intact. Sharp, clear, good signal. You know that between here and the receiving station, the atmosphere will distort the signal. So, to adjust for that, you put corrective filters and lenses in front of the beam at the source to compensate for the atmospheric distortion that will happen between the source and the receiver. If you can anticipate the nature of those distortions, you can correct for it at the beginning so that arrives accurately, clear and sharp after 35 miles to the receiving station. This story structure want to show you is the set of filters that you use to get your information to the conscious mind of people. That is its job and purpose in the communication process. We go back to what is the story? If you want to define it, where do you go? Dictionary. I looked it up in a different dictionary systems and every one of them gave this is the primary definition. It is this exact wording or words that mean exactly the same thing with changing a word or two. A narrative account of a real or imagined event. How many will accept that definition so we can go on. The show then please -- a show of hands please. That -- how many will not accept it and think it is a trick question? There are some. This is science, right, we don't accept things without testing. So, let's test it. Picture this, you have a child that comes out from school and if you are older like my age, it would be your grandchild who says they have to write a story tonight. They wail and weep and say it is impossible. You hear the pencil sharpener going for 20 or 30 of minutes -- 20 or 30 minutes and you know it's a waste of time because they are going to do it on the keyboard anyway. Then they spent a couple of hours texting to their friends about how horrible it is. Eventually, they get around to writing the story and you can hear the wailing and weeping. Finally, exhausted and disheveled they come down with a piece of paper and they slam it on to the table and slide it across. Then they say, there is my story. You look at the piece of paper and on the paper did he or did he not write a story? Yes or no? Is that what you mean, is that what you are after? No, it isn't. It is not a narrative account of -- and yet it is a narrative -- and yet it is a narrative account of a real or imagined event. The dictionary is wrong, I don't buy it. We have an incredible dearth of words in this language, there are over 1 million words in the English language in the next largest language is Russian. Chinese is just a little behind that. Yet, English has an incredible dearth of vocabulary words to cook -- to describe narrative structures. We have one word, story and the dictionary stretched it. It is very much akin to the situation that you would have if we only had one were to define percipitation. If someone walks in from outside and shakes off and you should see what is going on out there today and they say percipitation. That is laughable, right? We have 30 to 40 different words to describe densities and purse -- and temperatures of percipitation. We have one word for narrative structures which is story. Now we can modify we good story, bad story, lame story. Really, a short story long story anything. The word story does not carry any real information and that is part of the problem.
I want to show you what are the elements. It seems to me if you are going to define a story, the only way to make sense is to use the elements in the neural story human net. The terms that it needs to pass information into the conscious mind, that is effective story structure. So, let's go it does. To do what I want to go back to -- I want to turn it into a good story. What you want to know?
Why you go to the store? Let's start with why you went to the store because it is a good place to start and of course it is of the next slide -- it is the next slide. What you are looking for is a goal for the main character. The main Kerry needs to have a goal of what they -- the main character needs to have a goal of what they need or want and what they are trying to do. This is huge. So often, it is completely ignored in reporting science. They say what they accomplished and what they did, but in order to make sense of the story, the receiver needs to know what they were trying to do. What they were after. Let me give you the example -- give you an example of the power of a goal. Barry wanted some ice cream. That is the goal. So we know that it is a girl namedMary who wanted since -- who wanted some ice cream. As soon as I gave you a goal for some -- a goal for the main character, you could take it to the bank. The teller or creator of the story makes with the listener. I'm going to tell you a story about a girl who wanted some ice cream. You sign on to find out if she gets her ice cream. Once I get there, I'm done. Until I get there, you are not finished and so I better not be finished. I could go on with the story for an hour. I could have or be shipwrecked in the North Pacific and the whole crew sunk in and drown. She could be hanging onto a spar that is still floating on the surface and then a raging surf -- a raging store comes out of Alaska and the wind is howling and sleet is blowing horizontally and sharks are beginning to circle and all of the time you are thinking to yourself, this is not can help her get the ice cream. It's good to make her harder for her to get the ice cream. Every action is interpreted taste on the -- based on the main character's ability to achieve the goal. This is huge. This is the cold guide -- the core guide for creating meaning in any narrative. I want to show you again one more demo. This is a long paragraph that I will read to you. The question is, does that make sense? The plan backfired when a dog chased them away. She threw a party and the guests came with motorcycles. Her stereo system was not loud enough and she spent the next day looking for keeping taunt -- a peeping Tom, but she was unable to find one in the phonebook. -- Do you understand what is going on here? Do you know what you have here? This is a plot. The plot is always boring to readers. The plot does not make a six sided an action does not make us excited -- the plot does not make us excited and action does not make us excited. It is cheap stuff and should be the last thing you think of when you plan out a narrative that you want to share with the rest of the world. The sequence of events is the last things you go through. If I want you to make sense of this, all I have to do is give you a goal for the main character. Sally, the main character, if I give her a goal, you may disagree with her tactics, but it will make perfect sense to you. Sally, hates the woman who moved in next door and wants to drive her out. Reread the paragraph that will make perfect sense. Every one of those events is interpreted to you by the main character's ability to achieve the goal. We tend to overlook holes -- goals. This demo is worth it to hammer on. We tend to overlook holes -- goals because writers have learned to imply rather than overtly state the goal. You can do that if you are really good and can't -- I can't be sure that the reader will interpret the correct all. -- The correct goal. They can go wrong and they won't misunderstand the whole thing. A good one to play with his Goldilocks and the three Bears.
Goldy commits felony breaking and entering into the bear's house. She is risking hard time. Why did she do it? She was hungry, tired and curious. Did she do one curious thing inside that house? No she does not. Be honest, you are in someone's house and you are alone and they are gone. You are curious. What are you going to do? Are you going to open the medicine cabinet to see what pills they take an open the drawers bedside table to see what they really read at night. She is not even curious enough to look in the pantry does find -- to find something better than oatmeal. How many kids do you know would break into a house at risk and danger and eat oatmeal. If she was so hungry, why did she the smallest bowl. -- Smallest bowl? Don't give me the temperature story. All of you are scientist and which everyone knows that -- and everyone knows that if you pour oatmeal into three bowls at the same time, the one that will cool the first is the smallest. Mama made oatmeal and dad came downstairs and said 00 bail again. He started to leave and she said don't let the door hit you in the prayer. -- In the rear. -- She has self-esteem issues to work out. We are stuck with Goldilocks. Put your self in Goldilocks's place. She's been in the bear's Place long enough for anyone to call 911 and record -- and reported break-in. She is going to spend life in prison as a present mama and her life is down the toilet. She has eaten their food and smashed up most of the living room or nature. Is there a person in this room that can honestly say that at this moment you would honestly consider wandering upstairs to take a nap? Go figure. I will never tell the story because I cannot make it make sense no matter what. Here is my point, if you do, you can figure out why she is going in there for a goal that is real important to her and relevant to your audience. They will hang on every word that you say. Even if you go back to the old Disney version of the story. Why, because it defines the story structure. There is a girl doing a workshop who says she knows why Goldilocks broke in the bear's house. She went into the house because she was trying to commit suicide.. I am not advocating the suicidal version of Goldilocks. For the first time in my life that made sense. I could see her standing around in liver or wonder where the bears are. I'm a to go down and lay down -- a medical upstairs and lay down until they come home and do the deed. If you want to tell goal he locks in the three Bears -- if you want to tell Goldilocks and the three Bears to middle school students you need to give Goldilocks the goal. She is given away everything she owns. You need to figure out why she's going in there. Because you have made the goal relevant to the audience, they will hang on every word that you say. This is huge and is the heart and soul of all infected narratives. It is not what someone accomplishes, it is their goal.
Why did he go to the store? He went to the store for some milk. It's not a story if they already get to the goal. It's only a story of a character has not gotten to the old. -- To the goal. There are only two things that can keep them from reaching the goal is problems. If the problem puts them in direct opposition to another entity in the story, we call it a conflict. If you want definitions, there they are. We need to create -- and general we need to share the problems. Companies almost refuse to do it because they think if they talked about the problems that they had and the struggles that came up that they are admitting flaws in themselves. It is somehow lessening the results. In fact, in the mind of the receiver, they are doing the opposite. If there are no problems, you were just bragging. It is the problems that make your story worth listening to. So, we need to create some problems or conflicts before he went to the store. He went to the store for some milk and a three-year-old told that he cannot go in. So, he stepped over the kid and got the milk and went home. Not very satisfying is it? Every textbook in this country stops there and says that it is conflicts and problems that create excitement in the story and involve us. That is flat wrong. It is not the conflict itself, it is the risk and a danger that they create for the main character. We are risk and danger donkeys -- junkies. A quick demo. If I took a 30 foot 4x4 in late here on the carpet, is there anyone here in this room that would dare to walk the entire length of the 30 foot 4x4? You're right, it's no big deal. Anybody willing to be paid to sit there in your seat and watch someone walk in the 4x4. Risk is the probability of farewell -- a failure and the likelihood something will go wrong. The risk is minimal, it is 4 inches wide and it is on the carpet. Maybe there is a fire alarm that goes off halfway through. Maybe you've fallen twisted ankle above your head on a chair and get laughed at by everyone else for the rest of the conference. You lose your self-esteem and think of yourself as a klutz. You do this assessment all the time for every moment of your life. You assess but they are both small and assert that you are willing to do it for $50. But, you are not willing to pay to watch. It is not action that we care about. We care about risk and danger. Now, suspend the 4x4 thousand feet up in the air over shark infested water with a hurricane in the air. Then, if I could find some fool who would walk across that 1000 feet, you know darn good and well I can fill a stadium who would pay $50 for the cheap seats to fit -- to sit below would watch. They would not care whether the full made it across or not. If he makes it, we are satisfied we take a picture with him and cheer. If he falls off in the middle -- the only way we would be angry is if he did not go up and face the risk and danger. Yet, we try to write this right out and we do not talk about what could go wrong and what is on the table if the study does not succeed. That is what locks in the audience.
So, we need to change the conflict to one that will create some risk and danger. Now, these things are always there. They are always there. We tend to underplay, under report or plainly ignore them. They are the big key for locking in an audience and making them excited about the research that you did and to get them to fully endorse and support and adopt as their own the research and the science that your reporting. I will say one more thing and that is physical damage or is the cheapest of all kinds of danger. I say that because I am going to use cheap physical danger on the next slide. I don't want you to think that it is the best way to do it, that is the cheap way that movies usually do it. In fact, it is emotional, social, professional risks and dangers. There are articles that talk about those kind of things in the world of science. They abound in what is going on in your world. The biggest one is that you just do not know what is going to happen. You do not know what is going to happen. That is an incredible risk to face and stake your career and your professional reputation on a project when you do not know what is going to happen. There are not many professions who would be willing to do that, the scientist do it all the time. It is part of the game. We need to change the conflict to one that will create at least some cheap physical danger. He went to the store for some milk and three gun toting bullies threatened his life. He was no dummy and went around to the background -- to the back door, got his milk and went home. You are still not satisfied because if there is going to be this rate -- this risk and danger, you wanted to face it. What you want is the struggle. You are looking for that. So many scientists when they write they want to make it sound as if it was easy for them. No, it is better if they struggle. The more they struggle, the more we support them and their efforts. The more that we will in turn allies what they have done and root for them as if it were our own. We need them to struggle. Again, the definition of struggle is to contend and engage. Let's make it a struggle. If they do not struggle, the audience literally does not care. There is no reason for them to read, absorb, internalize and remember. The ways you can struggle are unlimited. Here are some examples. Anything will do. So, he lets me can start -- let's make him stronger, he went to store for milk and there were three bad guys who would let them through. He faced them and got through and went and got the milk. We are still missing elements. We are missing details. You don't know how many bad guys there were and you don't know if this was 2005 Baghdad are 1880 in the old West. You do not know because there'll were no details to create -- there were no details to create a picture. Details of the most amazing thing. You little it -- you literally get to control peoples minds with details. They are like spotlights. Picture a story like your backyard garden. Better Homes & Gardens wants to come and take pictures of your garden, unfortunately, the only time we can get a photographer there is at night. You tell them no problem and that in some places all the flowers have died and are weed choked. You decide this is your 15 minutes of fame and you wonder what to do. You get narrow Beam spotlights instead of general floods and you aim the spotlights at each spot where the plants are still thriving and healthy. The places where they are weed choked and dad, you leave -- and dad, you leave in the dark. -- And dead, you leave in the dark. They will only notice the places that are clicked. You guide them to your pastor your garden. You go to a stage play -- you lead them through your garden. You go to a stage play and it isn't the actors or the set, it is the light. If there is a Beam of light on an empty chair in the corner of the stage, but you look at the chair. You hear a voice and you start to look, but realizing that there is no light, you turn back to the chair. Then there is a light unto people on the love -- on two people on the -- on a love seat on the corner of the stage and you turn your attention there. It is number eight on the list because it is the last thing you do. Create the story and then say what do I need people to see but I beat -- bit by bit, paragraph by paragraph and scene by scene. If there are things that you do not want them to think about, pull out the details and they won't. It is so easy to control the mind of the reader with your details. Yet, most people do not take time to consciously do it.
Another one that is missing is motive. Aren't you wondering why he is willing to risk his life for a quart of milk? Couldn't he put orange juice on his Cheerios just one morning if it would save his life? What you are missing is motive. Motives is even more important than goal that gets underutilized as a powerful attractive force. The motive explains why we are after the goal. Take the example that there was once a girl namedMary who wanted some ice cream . Why did she want the ice cream? She was bored with cookies. She did not like ice cream, but she -- but all they had in the house with cookies and she did not want cookies anymore. She said I will have ice cream is someone will bring it to me. I'm sure not going to go into the kitchen to get it. She has no motive see do not care about the goal. How do you get her -- how do you care about the goal, that is to get you -- to beat the motive. Why did she want ice cream, her grandmother on her deathbed is choking. She saysMary come here, we have been so porous that you came here to live , so poor that we could not afford ice cream. I have always let you have the ice cream, but just once before I die, if you love me, give me some ice cream. There is motive. She better get that ice cream batter bat -- ice cream `ready or she's going to dirty years of their be, right? For every project you do and report and are involved with, there are inter--- there are tremendous motives, powerful goals and amazingly powerful motives that go unreported. The reader just think it is a -- just thinks it's a bunch of scientists out there doing their thing again. They are wasting money and trying to justify their existence doing more studies. You need to include the goals and the motives and as soon as you do they will realize that this is important stuff and get excited. So, we need to create some motives.
Let me go back one. The other thing that motives do is control the way that an audience views the main character. If your main character is a scientist, it is his or her goal -- they are all selfish and we will tend to hope that the scientist fails. Motives do that. Here is a character, Sharkey the shark who wanted a puppy. Look at the way the sport -- these four different motives effect your view. One is he was tired of doing chores. Second was he was tired of eating tuna and wanted a puppy for a change. That changes the way you did the character, doesn't it. Third is he was lonely and wanted a friend. All of his friends ran away because he was -- because he tended to meet his friends. For this he wanted to prove that land and sea animals could live in peace. Don't you kind of want to throw up there? But, it is a motives. We need to create of motive for him going to the store to fight the bad guys to get the milk.
The milk would keep his deathly ill son alive until the doctor arrived from who knows where. He was Luke does dependent -- he was lactose dependent. Of course he thought through the bad guys to keep his son alive. Two things are still missing. Characters and character traits. Character traits are information that makes the character interesting. Interesting here means memorable. So, that someone reading for patient page will remember who the character is. That is what you want to do. You don't need to make them fascinating, you just need to make people remember who the characters are. It is the characters that we care about. Scientists always want people to care about the research, and yet research -- receivers of narrative research do not care about the content until they care about the character. They have got to have information about the character or the information never seems to be relevant. So, what kind of information makes a character interesting? Any thoughts? I won't spend more than 30 seconds on this because I want to say four minutes at the end. What kind of information makes a character interesting question somebody you can relate to with two arms, two hands, two eyes. Something you despise? Does every character have to have some trait that you despise? That could work. If you say an emotional reaction to the character, then I do not know if I have written a good storyteller give it to you to see if you have had an emotional reaction. I need to be able to do it when you are not there. It's actually incredibly easy. Is there anything that makes him different? Two arms could be interesting, but on our planet in this culture, if someone has one arm, don't you take a second glance. It's because it's unusual and interesting and it makes them different. If someone has three arms, you would probably look twice because it is unusual. It is less common than one arm. And so, you would note it and it would be interesting and you would remember until you got home and told your family that you saw three armed man. Anything that makes a character different from those around them. It could be a quirk, habit or anything will do. As long as it differentiates them from the characters around them and lets the reader isolate this character into a hierarchal Caremark -- framework and carried a character from page to page. So, we need to create unique character traits for him who is going to the store for the milk. Bob, the one arm blind crippled father who suffer from Alzheimer's disease hobbled to the store for Sunoco we keep his son alive. However, gun toting bullies blocked his way. Argue rooting from him now? I give you a couple of character traits and you are with him. These of course are done for comic purposes, but the concepts work for any kind of narrative. These elements are incredibly powerful. So, we are happy eight elements. I want to show you a picture first and I want you to look at the Dragon. It only took me a week to draw the Dragon. Here are the elements, the character has some interesting trades -- traits who is blocked by some sense of risk and danger and the character has to fight through, over over -- over, around or under to get to the goal. This structure is hardwired into your head and as the elements that you need to make sense of something. Here is the list if you want them. It is the main character, character traits, what they are after, old, motives, great risk and danger and then and only then is when we get the plot. We want them to struggle to reach the goal and they we enter the details to make it seem real. Those are the elements and they are very simple things. They are not complex than they are always available. We tend not to pay attention to them.
A quick demo. The Lone Ranger wanted to go to some store for some more silver bullets. He was attacked by bad guys. That was written by a fourth grader. He wants to know if that was better than going to the store. How many of the eight elements that I just gave you are here? We have a character and character traits to make them interesting. Yes, it is a family store and you know about the Lone Ranger. I don't have to put it in here because it is a family story. But it doesn't work if I am not sure who the Lone Ranger is. I tested this when I was in Taiwan working with English teacher -- English teachers. They did not know the Lone Ranger, so I went right over their heads and they did not care. I have to assume that you already know the character traits. The goal is to go to the store. The motive is to get more silver bullets. The conflict is from a fourth grader so we know that there is a risk and danger with the bad guys. We have struggle, and implied resolution that we know he made it to the store. What is missing, details. We can't see it. This is the bare-bones version. I will go to a quick rap. This is as short as I can make it. Sort of a six line thing. A blank, needed like -- blank because blank or motive, because blank and now we get to the struggle. That is the essence of the neural struggle -- of the neural story net.
A recap. Stories are the vehicle that makes getting information across. To use the vehicle and its power, you need to be willing to pay the piper. Here is the mandate for the story structure. We do need obstacles and struggles even though you want to talk about accomplishments. We get to accomplishments Iway of struggle. You may want to present concepts, but we need to have characters if you want the concepts to be relevant. We need conflict and problems. We do not have conflict, we do not have story. If we do not see the struggle, we do not care about the story. Finally, we need interesting characters that give us a way to hang on to the characters. If we do that, research shows that these are some of the attributes that stories provide for us. If you look at it, it is pretty much the definition of effective communication. For you all, the role of storage in research, data sets -- let's say it this way, no one ever stormed Washington because of a pie chart. They store Washington because of his story. It provides context and relevance and sells a program. What that means is, if you one example all I have to say is blue rubber gloves. You flash back on the most memorable part of last night. Why, because it was couched in story form. It was a metaphoric image that gave you imagery and detail and was easy to remember. It linked to elements of the story. The story that comes out every science research project is an essential part of the project. That is to say that story data are as essential to collect along the way during the project as our science data. You would never do in atmospheric study and say not to bother writing down the CO2 concentrations, we will probably remember them. Yet, people do that all the time with the key story data. In the process of designing a proposing programs, if you build in the story expertise and story element as part of the basic data collection process and part of the research process, you will find in the into you have everything you need to make a truly powerful and effective story about that work. It is the stories that carry the real power and the selling tools that you need in order to sustain and develop the work. I will back that up with you have a copy of my e-mail address. If you try to build stories in and have trouble, you have by e-mail address. Call or write and we will work it out. The research is very clear that I have demoed it and tested it houses of times. It works. That is the way the human mind is built to work. You have to believe in it and build it into the context of what you are trying to do. That is what I was trying to share with you this afternoon. Thank you all in the context of the rain and thank you for the stories.
[ Okay, I know that we have come to the witching hour, but do we have time for a question or two?
I will be here for a while in the morning.
There is a question right here.
They may be -- this may be irrelevant, but how does storytelling blend into the cirque product method of teaching -- into the socrai\ socratic method of teaching. How can you do that without telling the story? --
How can you do that without telling a question?
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