Debate and the Real World: Storytelling

SVUDL strives to help build diversity in the field of law, preparing young debaters with the tools and passion to pursue a legal career. While law is an excellent application of debate skills, debate isn't just for future attorneys! This week we start a series of posts prepared by SVUDL Volunteer of the Year Carolyn Straub, a former debater Carolyn knows firsthand how debate skills transfer to and benefit you across many professional disciplines. This week, she's focusing on storytelling:

If you have ever worked on an opening speech for debate, then you know that crafting a storyline is very important. You need to have a clear idea of the main arguments you want to cover, but having a solid opener and strong closing are equally critical. Together, these pieces create a storyline that weaves an entire debate round together, connecting key examples, ideas, and research across speeches. While creating a storyline is essential it’s also extremely translatable in many other settings.

In most corporate roles, you will be required to present your proposals (for new projects, a product design, operational process, etc) to leadership to gather buy-in and the thumbs up to pursue. The presentation outline for meetings like this basically models that of a debate speech. Your objective remains the same: convince your audience to agree with you. For roles like construction foreman, plumber, or other client facing positions, having a well laid out storyline is critical for explaining the job you plan to employ (should the client agree with your plan, they also agree with your finances), or even in explaining when something goes wrong (the storyline here can allay a client’s concerns and retain trust in the professional’s abilities).

Nearly everyday we are in positions where we must explain our position clearly and articulately; the art of storytelling you build in debate is so useful that will help you no matter what career you ultimately choose- and it may even help get you out of chores today!