AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH LEGENDARY
SCREENWRITING LECTURER ROBERT MCKEE
establishing your world and showing life
in balance. Then, throw it radically out
of balance with an event that rouses the
characters to restore balance. The story
from that point on shows various forces
of conflict and antagonism in their lives,
as the characters constantly try to put
life back into balance. The ending of the
story restores balance and gives the audience an insight into how and why that
balance was restored. To reiterate: The
beginning of the story throws life out of
balance. The middle struggle strives to
restore the balance. The ending restores
balance, for better or worse.
McKee’s magic isn’t limited to
Hollywood and the silver screen.
Effective leaders in any field know that
accurate information and sound logic
are critical in running a profitable business, but that the power of story will
take the organization to the next level. In
fact, McKee has helped organizations as
diverse as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard,
Young & Rubicam and BOLDT develop
their evolving narrative game plans.
Just how does story relate to speakers
who want to grow their speaking businesses? You need stories to win hearts
and minds, while delivering an immer-sive experience around your products,
services and brand assets. You need to
master the art of storytelling to persuade,
influence and motivate your audience to
take a desired action.
McKee sat down with NSA member
Dick Bruso and Speaker magazine editor
Barbara Parus to explain how the principles of story have a direct impact on a
speaker’s success and how speakers can
apply them to their own presentations.
What is the best way for speakers to position a signature story in their speech?
The trouble with signature stories is that
it’s your signature story. It’s not necessarily the audience’s signature story. You
should have lots of signature stories,
with each one designed for a particular audience. I have a New York joke for
New York audiences, but I don’t use the
New York joke in London. I make jokes
about the royal family in London.
Speaker Magazine: Why do audiences
want more stories, regardless of the topic,
in the presentations they attend?
Robert McKee: They want story because
story fits the mind. It is how the mind
absorbs, sorts and structures reality.
Do you recommend that speakers
tailor their signature stories based on
Yes, that’s one aspect of the signature
story. You must be careful that your signature story isn’t about you. Speakers
want to impress people about how
How can professional speakers shape
their stories so that they have the same
great power and meaning that we see in
highly acclaimed films?