The ABT method is just about the simplest storytelling structure, but we can make it more effective. ABT, developed by Randy Olson, stands for “And, But, Therefore.” Each of those words corresponds to an act of a story. The first act is set up so you present, with the “And,” two pieces of information that describe the situation. The second word, “But,” is for the conflict act of a story. “Therefore,” the third act of a story, is the resolution.
Putting that together, we get something like this: “Stories are an incredibly powerful way for us to get our messages across, AND there’s a lot of information out there about how to do it. BUT we don’t always have a lot of time. THEREFORE we need to find simpler ways to apply story structure to our messages.”
But there’s one more thing we can do to make our stories even more powerful. Because in the second act of a good story, there’s a Moment of Truth that causes the third act to happen. It’s that one extra piece of information that helps the character and your audience decide whether to agree with the resolution. What we’re missing is a “Yet,” as in, “Yet we know that it’s true that…”
What we come away with as the simplest storytelling structure is ABYT. So when you want to quickly apply storytelling structure to your message, think And, But, Yet, and Therefore.
- Randy Olson – “The And, But, Therefore of Storytelling”
- Randy Olson Productions
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– There are lots of ways to make storytelling even simpler. And one of the simplest is a storytelling structure called ABT. It stands for And, But, Therefore. But by adding one letter, and one word, to that storytelling structure, you can make your stories even more powerful. That’s what we’re talking about this week on Find The Red Thread, I’m Tamsen Webster, of tamsenwebster.com. If you’re a fan, please do me a favor, like and subscribe.
Stories are an incredibly powerful way for us to get our messages across. And, there’s a lot of information out there about how to do it. But, we don’t always have a lot of time. Therefore, we need to find simpler ways to apply a storytelling structure to our messages.
And that’s exactly what I just did, using Randy Olson’s ABT method of story structure. The ABT stands for And, But, Therefore, and each of those words matches one of the acts of a story.
So the first act is setup. So you present, with the And, two pieces of information that describe the situation. “We all know that stories are powerful, and there’s a lot of information out there.”
The second word, But, is for the conflict act of a story. But there’s a problem. “But, we don’t always have a lot of time to apply that information to our messages.”
The third act of a story is the resolution, and that’s the Therefore that Randy introduces. “Therefore we need to find simpler ways of introducing structure to our stories.” Of applying story structure to our messages.
Now, that’s an effective way, it absolutely works. And, there’s one other thing we can do to make them even more powerful. Because a story doesn’t just have three acts, it has an important thing that happens within the second act, and that is a moment of truth. It’s the thing that causes the third act to happen. It’s the introduction of one more piece of information. This really helps the character, in this case, your audience, decide whether they agree with the resolution you’re going to present. Whether or not they agree with the thing that comes after the therefore.
Now, if you’re familiar with The Red Thread, then you’ll see how all of this matches up, because the Goal is what we’re talking about with the and. We want this, and we know that there’s things standing in the way.
But, there’s a problem, a deeper problem. The real problem. The Problem of Perspective. So we’ve got the And, and the But taken care of, but how do we cover that Moment of Truth? How do we make sure that piece happens?
I suggest we add one more letter, and one more word, and that’s Y for Yet. “Yet we know that it’s true, in this case, that the easier something is, the more likely it is we are to apply it. Therefore,” we’re back into Randy’s structure, “therefore, the change we need to find the easiest way to apply story structure to our messages.”
So when you’re putting your messages together, when you’re trying to figure out, on the fly, when you don’t have a lot of time, how can I structure this simply? Think And, But, Yet, Therefore. What’s the situation, what’s the problem, what’s the additional piece that makes the case for the change that you’re about to introduce, therefore, the change needs to happen.
So, from ABT to ABYT, it’s a simple change, but a powerful one. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. If you’re interested in learning more about applying story structure to your messages, or having me come in to train your team on how to do it for themselves, find out more at tamsenwebster.com/consulting.