Pixars 22 Rules of Storytelling

June 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted these rules that she learned from her more senior colleagues.

PBJPublishing.com thought they were so good, they chose to share them the best way they know how – through design. Enjoy!


Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling, brought to you by @pbjpublishing

We thought it’d be helpful to get Pixar’s 22 rules in text form too from The Pixar Touch blog:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

7-8 Tips To Great Preso’s

June 28, 2013 § 1 Comment

Note:  Click the Left – Right Arrows In These Embedded Presentations – They work!

And Don’t Be This Guy

Be Yourself:

Note:  Too many slides here but Nancy Duarte is an expert in this field – so flip through quickly –  you’ll find some “pearls” of wisdom in the sea of slides:

I’ve summarized the slides / points that matter the most (to me):  Next time I’m on stage I’m reviewing these notes below….

1) Audience – Readiness – tend to the ecosystem  (Who?, What?, Why?, How?)

  • Who are they? – walk in their shoes – what’s their perspective?
  • Why are they here?  situational analysis
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How can you help solve their problem?
  • What do you want them to do / think about?
  • How can you best reach them?
  • How might they resist?

2)  Engage – Connect – OPEN WITH A PUNCH (You get 60 seconds to grab audience attention – no matter who you are)

  • Personal
  • Unexpected
  • Novel
  • Challenging
  • Humorous

Move with Purpose – Eye Contact – Pause Effectively

3)  Add Playfulness

  • Interact – throw something –
  • Make a Point – Use Audience Member (will I be next?)

4) Body Language:   Our bodies can change our minds, our minds change our behavior, our behavior changes our outcomes.

  • No tech life hack
  • Audit of your body
  • Power = Open Up – Get Wide
  • Powerless = small, wrap up
  • Fake It until you become it:  – when forced to smile – hold pen in teeth – makes you happier
  • Our minds changes our bodies? – do our bodies change our minds?
  • Role changes also shape the mind/body chemistry
  • PRESENCE is most important –  (Passion, confidence, authentic, comfortable, captivating,enthusiastic)
  • 2 Minutes of Powerful Pose – configure your brain – testosterone up, cortisol down

5)  STAR Moments

  • shocking stats
  • evocative visuals
  • emotive storytelling
  • repeatable soundbites

Ethos Pathos Logos – Communicating Aristotle Style

June 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Communicating Aristotle Style:

1)  Ethos  – Establish the Who and How of  You:  Establish your Character and Credibility with the Audience

Ethos  is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence the listener’s emotions, behaviors, and even morals  The word’s use in rhetoric is closely based on the Greek terminology used by Aristotle in his concept of the three artistic proofs.:

2)  Pathos – Make an Emotional Connection to your Audience;  Make your communication matter to them;  Lead them down the path with a compelling story.

Pathos:  Greek for “suffering” or “experience;” representing an appeal to the audience’s emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and logos).

Aristotle focused on whom, toward whom, and why stating that “It is not enough to know one or even two of these points; unless we know all three, we shall be unable to arouse anger in anyone. The same is true of the other emotions.”

Emotional appeal can be accomplished in a multitude of ways:

  • by a metaphor or story telling, common as a hook,
  • by passion in the delivery of the speech or writing, as determined by the audience.
  • Language choices matter. Specific words matter.  Great writers and storytellers are born from tremendous pathos.

3)  Logos – Logic;  Make fact based connections explicit from your analysis to conclusions.  Persuading by use of reasoning.  This was Aristotle’s favorite.

Effectively Communicating was figured out over 2000 years ago……a simple 3 step approach.

How To Give A Killer Presentation

June 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Source: Harvard Business Review

I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing……..the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:

1) Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).

We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.

2) Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it–over and over).

Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.

Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.

3)  Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous)

the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance…..the biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much…..the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage.

Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic

4)   Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides)

Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape.

5)  Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic)

Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance–not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story–the presenter has to have the raw material.

The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk. The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.

The full article here:


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