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A room full of heroes: Storytelling for Speeches Part I
Campfire – Employer Branding Campus – Storytelling Workshops 26 June 2018

A room full of heroes: Storytelling for Speeches Part I

Like a good book or a thrilling film, a speech should inspire, engage and, above all, be remembered. Speakers are supported in this mission by classic storytelling theory. In our new series about Storytelling for Speeches, we show how every speaker can become a real master storyteller. In Part I, we first look at the role the speaker takes on stage.

Lights off, spotlight on: All eyes are on the speaker. He is the centre of attention and, in the best case, enjoys the limelight. However, if he thinks that this makes him the hero of the event, he is very much mistaken and will most likely not deliver a stirring speech. For a good speech, the audience and its needs and expectations must be the focus.

Redner vor Publikum
© g-stockstudio

The speaker takes the place of the mentor and supports the audience full of heroes on their journey with valuable insights. Of course, mentors can be different, just as Gandalf is not the same as Mary Poppins. For corporate speakers, this means that their own character, despite their supposed secondary role as mentor, becomes all the more visible and recognisable the more they give it an individual profile. At the same time, a previously defined mentor type provides very good orientation as to which stories, content and tonality fit the speaker at all.

Archetypes & Growth Needs: Finding the right mentor personality

A first clue in the search for the right mentor personality is provided by the so-called archetypes, i.e. the classic mentor roles of storytelling theory. Whether one tends to be a rebel who searches for creative solutions or a jester who entertains the audience depends not only on one’s own preferences. The type of mentor is also determined by the growth needs of the hero, i.e. the audience. What do they expect from the talk? What do they need? Are they looking for information, inspiration, motivation or simply entertainment?

15 Brand-Mentor-Archetypen für Brand Storytelling aus dem Buch "Storytelling für Unternehmen"
© Storytelling für Unternehmen

When the needs of the audience are defined, speakers can present them with exactly the right content and in exactly the way that suits them. Harry Potter would certainly not have listened to the donkey from Shrek and Neo from Matrix would probably never have started his journey with a timid Dumbledore. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should slip into a role and completely pretend for your presentation. Sometimes just the break between audience and speaker can give an interesting atmosphere. For example, when the young founders of the condom brand Unicorn step in front of seasoned management consultants in suit and tie or someone from a traditional company speaks in front of start-ups. It’s important to remain credible and yet still adapt to the needs of the audience.

Of course, there are many more than these 15 archetypes available to speakers. The world offers hundreds of mentors, from each of which several very different characters can be formed. Creative combinations and new creations are always welcome to find the perfect speaker personality.

From Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King: Inspiring speaker personalities in the mentor check-up

Malala Yousafzai

“A child, a teacher, a pen and a book can change the world”.

Her fate touches, her words as well. The activist Malala Yousafzai fights for the right to education and becomes the victim of an assassination attempt. On 12 July 2013, on her 16th birthday, she speaks to more than 500 youth ambassadors from all over the world on the so-called “Malala Day” at the UN General Assembly.

Mentor type:

Defender (stands in for people who cannot defend themselves).

Witness (exposes injustice and acts as a conscience for society)

Healer (feels obliged to help others)

Steve Jobs

“I would like to tell you three stories from my life today. Nothing special, just three stories.”

Steve Jobs, creative mind behind Apple until his death in 2011, is revered less as a genius inventor than as a visionary. In his speeches he was like a seer, a designer and charismatic, whose public appearances were staged like holy masses and perceived as such by the audience. He is particularly remembered for his speech to the graduating class of 2005 at the renowned Stanford University.

Mentor type:

Rebel (seeks creative solutions to challenge the status quo).

Magician (believes in the power of imagination, loves to surprise others, even if sometimes he prefers to keep the secret of magic to himself)

Pioneer (loves the unknown and seeks new solutions and routes)

Martin Luther King

“I have a dream.”

Martin Luther King’s speech has been christened the best speech of the 20th century. One passage in particular has become a myth in its own right. Delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in front of hundreds of supporters, the speech is about racial segregation, the full equality of the white and African American populations. Seeing equality as the foundation of the American nation, he offers all of America his vision.

Mentor type:

Captain (gives confidence and trust and has a clear vision).

Witness (exposes injustices and acts as a conscience for society)

Peacekeeper (calming pole against violence and chaos, leads by example)

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