Compelling story telling

5 02 2014

4hrbodyI think a science presentation without a story to tell is a wasted opportunity. Every science presentation, however formal or informal, for whatever audience should have a story.

Once you’ve decided on a story how do you know if your story is any good? One thing to try is imagine you are pitching it to a TV company.

Would the TV company be interested in your show or would they just walk away? A really compelling story should have multiple companies fighting to sign your show.

Tim Ferriss is an author who has just blagged himself a TV show. His TV show was sold like this:

Name: The Tim Ferriss Experiment (TFX)
The premise: Shows viewers how to become superhuman though better tools and tricks, not better genetics.
Easily thought as: ‘Antony Bourdain meets Jason Bourne’ or ‘Jackass meets A Beautiful Mind‘.
Production company: Zero Point Zero the team behind Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
Spirit animal: Ocelot

Personally I don’t see the point in assigning an animal to each of my shows but the rest of the headings are useful. When I tried to fill out these headings for the shows that I offer it was very obvious that the shows I’m happiest with are the ones I would be happiest to sell to a TV company. The shows I am happiest with are the ones with the most compelling stories. Here’s one as an example:

Name: Bending it like Beckham
The premise: Some people think David Beckham isn’t very intelligent, this show will prove he is a scientific genius.
Easily thought as:Think of a Number meets Match of the Day‘ or ‘Mythbusters meets Gary Neville’s Sky Sports analysis’ .
Production company: Science Shows for Schools the company behind The REAL Science of the Circus and Galileo’s Greatest Mistake.
Spirit animal: rather not say

I’ve got a long tour coming up and I’ve added revisiting the TV company pitch to my list of things to do whilst I’m stuck in lonely hotels. I’m looking forward to tightening up the stories in my shows so I could pitch to a TV company. I’m sure that thinking of my shows like this will give me a good idea of which shows need work and which shows I am really happy with. Let me know in the comments if you think this is a useful tool for your shows.







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