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What Is This?

This is a modification of Dia Bondi's StoryCraft, tailored for the Tech Speakers program to enable both group and self-directed programs of technical speaking improvement.

The program...

  • Consists of a worksheet and a series of self-recording sessions
  • Is designed to allow participants to strengthen each other
  • Is designed to be repeated to improve skill, regardless of level of competency


Part I: Content Development

The content development segment uses a worksheet called the ThoughtBox. The ThoughtBox is a tool to help you organize your thoughts while developing your presentation materials, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the content.

The worksheet is here.

For your talk, fill out the worksheet using these instructions:

  • Pick your TOPIC. This will be the title of your presentation.
  • Who is your AUDIENCE? Do they have a decision to make? How will you influence them?
  • Determine the ACTION you want your audience to take.
  • What big-picture QUESTIONS do you think your audience will have? Make sure your presentation answers them.
    • Draw lines from the questions to the modules that answer them.
  • Identify RESISTANCE. What will stop your audience from taking the ACTION?
    • Draw lines to the modules which acknowledge and address the resistance.
    • For example, you might say something like: “You might think you can’t because ____, but that’s not true and here’s why…"
  • What is your audience’s MOTIVATION - what will get them to take the ACTION?
  • Fill the boxes up with the sub topics in your talk
    • Give each box a TITLE and details and data
    • Make sure to answer the QUESTIONS, address the RESISTANCE and stoke their MOTIVATION.
  • Create a BOTTOM LINE message for each box, representing the most important idea.
  • Organize, order and number your boxes for appropriate flow and continuity.
  • Fill out the agenda based on your box order, with the TITLE from each box.
  • Create a summary from the BOTTOM LINE from each of your boxes.

Part II: Speaker Practice

  • Step 1: Record Yourself
    • In this section, record 3-5 minutes of yourself presenting. Perhaps 1 or 2 of your modules from your ThoughtBox. Get feedback from your co-partipants or your peer group on:
      • 1. What's working about what I'm doing?
      • 2. What would you like to see more of?
  • Step 2: Re-record Yourself!
    • In light of feedback, re-record and resubmit to same peers with the following question:
      • 1. Was that better: Yes or No (no comments please)
  • Step 3: Repeat until satisfied with the results :)

Mentoring and Feedback

TODO: Process this into more cohesive advice.


  • Focus on what to do, not what not to do. Find a replacement behavior.
  • Designed alliance -- what are the feedback guidelines?
  • You can only talk about yourself/your own experience
  • Give examples

Video recording

  • Initial recording -- do it in the meeting.
  • Do it now (for the first time) - one take only (always?)
  • Not about performance, just making it a habit
  • Dropbox folder divided by program and week
  • Might need to take turns per week for presenting?

Feedback Themes per Week

  • Make requests of the listeners to focus on one thing - loose suggestion, not req'd.
  • The talks will tell us what's the most important
  • Try to aim attention / "listen for..."
    • Aim audience and presenter both in same direction
    • Example: pay attn to first 25 words.

Ideas of things to listen and watch for

  • Listen for strength of bottom lines
  • Listen for breaks/distinction in the modules
  • Listen for pacing/speech speed
  • Volume: quiet vs loud -- modulation to reflect the intent of the words
  • Facial expression - does subject match tone delivery? Congruence
  • Body language/posture/hand gestures - this comes with recording - capture whole body/or back up the camera
  • Purposefulness of what the presenter is doing - notice it in yourself.
  • How to replace um/uh/-- "Just stop" only works when they are self-aware.

Unlockers - tips for breaking through a tough habit

    • Listen for your ums and uhs, or any other idiosyncratic fillers, build the awareness and people will self-regulate
    • If they don't hear them- a tip: speak so slow, that there's room to hear what's going on
    • Everytime you say an um put your finger in the air. physical acknowledgement happens

Content Gotchas

  • Watch out for use of metaphor - does it help get the point across? Is it cross-culturally understood?

How to Measure Success

  • Participants
    • YOU FEEL IT!
    • Setting individual goals at the 2nd session -- and how did it change over the course of the program
  • Program
    • The course evaluation
    • Attrition rate
  • Eval questions
    • How did the wiki serve you - what would you change?
    • Have attendees eval their own 1st and last recording. Ask for testimonials.

Participation Reinforcement

  • Each week identify homework, and define what to show up with for next meeting
  • Build accountability into deliverables by events like speaker coaching

Handling Resistance

  • Make clear that the program is not dogma. For example, Storycraft is a framework for enabling program goals, tweak it as needed
  • Give participants a job
  • Give participants mentorship roles
  • Create experts

Program Materials

  • See if someone wants to re-record Dia's videos w/ more tech angle
  • Create a facilitator manual - put it in the wiki, to set expectations up front (THIS PAGE!)
  • Clarify which parts are self-guided vs facilitated
  • Tone - The material should have a voice
    • Ideally, the voice of someone who went through the program


  • How do I make a better bottom line?
  • Can I have some tips on starting strong?
  • How should I do Intros and Outros?
  • How can I create Drama!
  • In story telling, how far is too far?
  • What are some good ways to set up a demo?
  • What to do when I get lost half way through?
  • I'm nervous, now what?
  • Where can I find better visuals, and how should I use them?
  • I keep having the same vocal problems and people can't understand me or are distracted. How can I break through?
    • Extreme over-enunciation - Focus on each individual sound coming out of your mouth. Repeat this a bunch of times.
    • Super Slow Down - When practicing, try speaking extremely slowly. No really, slower. Slowwwwwwerrrrrrrr.
    • Say Less - If you say less, more gets through. It forces you to get to the heart of the content.