Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories


When Chiara Ojeda is the primary instructor, and when I am the supporting teacher in the classroom, I am able to sit back and be inspired; to gauge students’ reactions; and to tweak and develop my own lessons.  I do love preparing new lessons for class!  My most recent deck is on storytelling and how to use story in a presentation.  Check out a few slides here.

One of the students’ favorite videos is “On The Shapes of Stories” by Kurt Vonnegut.  Watch it here:


The students respond well to hearing many different approaches to story.  They read a piece of flash fiction to see how story works.  They read Nancy Duarte’s Resonate and learn how to incorporate stories into their presentations.  I would like to push them to do more story writing in class.  Brainstorming, creating, and workshopping a specific story for a specific speech will help them to understand the hard work that goes into story creation.

Recently, Garr Reynolds has been posting up a storm about story.  I want to read each of his new articles carefully to see if there are any takeaways my students can learn from.  Presentation Zen features “On the power of speech and telling your story,” “To live is to have a story to tell,” and “A beautiful story told without a single word,” and “The storytelling imperative: make them care.”

How do you teach story to your public speaking and presentation class?  What resources do your students enjoy the most?


One thought on “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

  1. Storytelling seems to be exploding in popularity right now – and I hadn’t realized that Garr Reynolds had been so prolific on the topic, so thanks for gathering those links.

    I’ve led “Storytelling for Software Entrepreneur” workshops using the Hero’s Journey to help transform entrepreneurs’ business pitches , and your blog is a handy compendium of the best practices around today. Thanks!

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