Up to this point I have not reviewed any works about writing or delivering a speech or presentation, because I felt it was too specific a topic that would only interest a handful of readers. However, after reading this week’s edition of the “Scott Drotar Literary Review,” and thanks to a conversation with my father, I have decided that some, if not most, of the skills I use to get ready for a Roll Models talk are applicable to numerous professions and life in general. Whether it be telling a funny anecdote at a party or giving a board room presentation, you will benefit from having a basic understanding of how to tell a captivating story. To help you along, this week I have reviewed one of the best books I have read on how to become a better storyteller. This week I present Doug Stevenson’s, “Story Theater Method.”
In this handbook on improving your presentation skills through storytelling, Doug covers every aspect of crafting, preparing, and delivering a story that will capture the attention of your audience. He walks you through the entire process from picking a message, coming up with the right story for that message, developing that story with humor, dialogue, and such, and then cultivating your presentation skills to best deliver your story. He teaches you all of these skills from the perspective of an actor on a stage, which I found to be very effective and different from most books on this topic. I also really liked that he focuses on short, simple stories with a single message, instead of developing these long, complicated talks with lots of fancy rhetorical components. You will be able to develop and deliver a memorable story with a message that sticks once you learn to apply the techniques in this book. He also tries to give a diverse set of examples of different professions that have used his method with success.
I found the author’s writing style to be very accessible and effective in conveying his point. The examples he uses are very informative, and he doesn’t reuse them throughout the book, so you end up with lots of good examples to refer to. The only thing that would have improved it, and I read the ebook version, would have been supplemental links to audio or video of him presenting his stories. It’s one thing to read about it, but quite another to see or hear it. At that point it is not just a book any more though, so I can hardly hold that against the quality of this work.
I learned a great deal from Stevenson’s “Story Theater Method.” If you have a job where getting in front of a group of people and speaking is a large or important component, then you need to read this book. When surveyed, Fortune 500 CEOs rated communication and presentation skills as hands down the most important thing they look for in promoting and hiring employees. Growing your abilities as a presenter is fast becoming a necessary part of climbing the corporate ladder. Don’t wait until you have to give a big presentation to the board to learn these critical skills, when you could learn them now and get a leg up on your competition by reading this book. The results you will receive are what gets this work a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.