Return to site


Craig Valentine's Example of a Skeletal Story

· Storytelling,Craig Valentine,Public Speaking,Presentations,Toastmasters

Creating a Skeletal Story

I learned about the 9 Cs of Storytelling and using a Skeletal Story from World Class Speaker Craig Valentine. When deciding on the content of a story, the most pertinent information, start with a 5-sentence version of the story using 5 of the 9 Cs.

A good story should have a Conflict and a resolution to the conflict - known as the Cure.

To introduce your story, you need a situation - a Circumstance - to set up the action.

After the Cure is introduced, how was the situation or character Changed?

What ends up being the message of the story - the Carryout Message? This message is what the audience should remember later about the story.

I am working on telling a story about an incident that happened to me in Africa. I wanted to see a hippopotamus on land. I had seen them in water, seen footprints and even got a quick glimpse as one was getting out of the water. One night, I convinced a hotel guard to take me out exploring a feeding area for hippos to see one on land. My skeletal speech finishes the story:

broken image

1. Circumstance: Out at night with guard and others looking for hippos.
2. Conflict: We realize that instead of tracking the hippo, the hippo is tracking us.
3. Cure: We reverse our plan, move towards cover and gauge who can run the fastest.
4. Change: Realization that a situation can turn around in a heartbeat.
5. Carryout Message: Be willing to change direction and adjust when survival is on the line.

I am still fleshing out this story but real life examples can be seen with restaurants that did or did not adjust when COVID hit. Some restaurants in my area immediately offered take out, delivery and set up outside canopies and food trucks. They significantly changed their whole operation within a few weeks. These restaurants were doing very well.

Other restaurants didn't change at all and closed permanently.

Some restaurants were slow to change and are surviving by a thread.

How Can a Skeletal Story Help Us to Say It in Five Minutes for Less?

As you can see in the example above, the story can be told in the five sentences of the skeleton. I can now expand on the details, add dialogue, elevate the conflict and enhance the message by finding a short phrase (Foundational Phrase) that helps the audience connect.