What Makes a Good New Narrative Speaker

For each event of the New Narrative we receive over 100 story submissions and speaker suggestions, plus a handful of people we identify ourselves as good potential storytellers. We can only pick 6-8 per event.

Below are a couple points on what we look for in story submissions or suggestions to The New Narrative.

1) Conflict and Stakes

Conflict and stakes are at the core of every good story. In many ways, the whole concept of the New Narrative is about how our lives are in conflict with the status quo. In each story there is typically an external conflict, a direct challenge the speaker faces, and an internal conflict, how the speaker decides to deal with that challenge. The internal conflict is what we ask our speakers to focus on. With regards to stakes, the most interesting stories tend to have the most at stake. The stakes could be a life or death situation, or a tremendous opportunity for learning. These are also the stories that are the most important to tell.

2) Vulnerability

We ask that New Narrative speakers be honest and brave, to share the story they think is important but might have been afraid to tell. It’s from a place of raw emotional honesty that the best stories come from. These are the stories that reflect upon our collective struggles and have the ability to open people’s eyes to other perspectives of the world.

3) Direct Sources

We want all New Narrative speakers to tell a story that reflects on their personal experiences. If the story is about the struggle of a particular population, we want somebody from that population to be the one telling the story.

4) Inclusion

We’re all in this together and if we’re truly going to write a new narrative it’s important to ensure that everybody has a voice. People from different racial, ethnic, gender and economic perspectives will all have different insights to share about our society, many of which will run counter to the common narratives of American culture. We want the New Narrative to be an open space for everybody’s stories.

5) Universal Themes

At the end of the day we’re all still people in this world. Most of us want the same things as everybody else: love, security, meaning, fellowship… Oftentimes the most unique stories will still come back to these very basic universal themes. It’s typically a reflection of the speakers vulnerability that brings them there.

Hopefully this list is helpful. Please do send in your ideas regardless, we would rather hear from you than not.

For a list of all current and future themes of the New Narrative, click here.

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