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Better Stories
capture your attention.

From powerful headlines to captivating ‘cold opens’, Better Stories spike levels of dopamine and oxytocin, causing the audience to constantly wonder.. “and then what happened?



Science of Storytelling.

Swedish presentation coach David "JP" Phillips is a rockstar. I've studied a LOT of neuroscience to understand why hormones and storytelling (not data) drive decision-making and I always come back to this TEDx. [18 mins]


Attention Spans.

Humans have 6-second attention spans? Elevator pitches should be 30-seconds? 75 seconds when consuming B2B videos? Or 3-hours for a good podcast? This book by Gloria Mark will not just help you understand your audience's attention span, but your own as well. [301 pages]



AI-Powered Storytelling.

What happens if you train Chat GPT-4 to write speeches like JFK’s speechwriter? Just for fun, I trained a LLM (Large Language Model) using the transcript of a seminar from a presidential speechwriter, and a speech from an actual president, to see if it could help me to craft a business speech for an important meeting. (Post). [5 mins]


47 Seconds.

This pioneering 2016 research paper co-athored by MIT, Microsoft Research & University of California explains why our attention spans at work at 47 seconds.


The research was conducted using screen-tracking software that studied 20 men and 20 women, for 12 weeks, in support, management and execs roles. [6 page PDF]


186 Words.

This research paper reveals new insights on how fast the average human reads non-fiction. It turns out to be around 238 words per minute. If that is true, and our screen-based attention spans at work based are 47 seconds, then we could make the case that a successful business story rests on the impact of its first 186 words. [94 page PDF]


Michael Lewis.

"Unless you have a STORY you don't have a way to persuade people." Launched in April 2024, this is one of my favourite Masterclasses on storytelling. Michael Lewis is the author of 20 books, 3 of which have been turned into Oscar nominated films (The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball).

What makes his stories so special is that they are all about someone (special) who was ignored. This class is 2.5 hours of teaching on the art of storytelling, relevant for business presentations, job interviews, writing and public speaking. [Trailer. $189 annual subscription needed to access class]


Something to Say.

Most of us speak around 20,000 words a day, but 74% of us suffer from speech anxiety. In this brilliant book, New Yorker writer John Bowe explores the origins of speech training, and the psychological benefits of words serving as medicine. It's a book that brings to life the idea that you really can change the world just by sharing your story.  [215 pages]


One Sentence.

People will often describe your speech or your story in ONE SENTENCE. This excellent book from Mimi Goss shows you how to craft that one sentence. And since she's faculty at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the president of a communications consulting firm, she knows what she's talking about. [250 pages]


How to Write a Headline.

David Ogilvy was one of the original Mad Men and he was never shy when it came to sharing advice about writing good copy. Search his name for his rules. They're all brilliant. Not all of them have stood the test of time, but most of them as as relevant for speeches and stories, as they are for ads and thumbnails. It's always good to know the rules before you break them. [2 mins]


9 Killer Opening Lines.

This cheat sheet from Oliver Aust is excellent. (Follow him on Linkedin). Oliver teaches business leaders to communicate like the top 1% of CEO's. If you'd like a deep dive behind these 9 killer opening lines, listen to "The Secrets Behind Effective Storytelling" where Oliver and I discuss them on his podcast. [48 mins]



Nathan Baugh's Newsletter.

Signing up to Nathan Baugh's newsletter will make you a better storyteller. It's usually packed full of tips and techniques about the art and science of storytelling. If you get the chance, you should try to catch one of his workshops or webinars too. [Weekly Newsletter]


Dying Laughing.

Nobody understands how to capture and hold an audience's attention span better than a standup comedian. The Dying Laughing documentary will help you to see your audience in a different way, so that you can turn your next presentation into a performance. [87 mins]


The Art of the Cold Open.

In 2015 security engineer Mohammed Qahtani won the title of Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking. He beat 33,000 other speakers over 7 rounds in 6 months. His 2-minute "Cold Open" from his winning presentation "The Power of Words" is a masterclass in capturing the audience's attention. [2 mins]


Ten Words Podcast.

Inspired by my favourite epsiode of The West Wing, I created a podcast called Ten Words in 2018. It ran for 36 episodes and each show was dedicated to a ten word quote from a very eclectic mix of celebrities. During each episode I looked behind the scenes to discover where their "Headline" quote originated.

[Apple Podcasts - 36 episodes]

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One Pagers.

My ONE PAGERS all begin with "What if...?" - the headline based ice-breaker that creative teams at studios like Pixar use to kickstart the storyboarding process. I uploaded some of my favourite one pagers here. Each one is packed full of storytelling quotes and advice.


11 FREE Storytelling Courses.

edX currently has 11 open courses related to Business Storytelling, Communicating with Impact and Storytelling for Social Change. Featuring lectures and assignments from some top universities and technology institutes, edX is a great resource for anyone on a budget or who wants to get started quickly. [Click image for course info]

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