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The only thing you should learn from Mel Gibson

It’s summer, and I’m at my friend Bruno’s house with a whole bunch of our university friends. 

Everyone is in the swimming pool, horsing around, and things are getting out of hand. 

It starts calmly enough, with a few fancy dives. 

Then someone gets a camera out, and the dives get a little crazier. 

At one point, two of the guys start using pool noodles to stage a sword fight - in the air. 

I get tired, so I sit next to the pool and watch. 

The sword fight keeps going, one jump at a time. 

The camera is still clicking. 

That’s when it happens: 

Bruno gets a metal bucket, puts it over his head, and launches off the side of the pool. 

One of the pool noodle guys jumps at the same time.

While everyone is shouting and laughing, I hear Bruno’s older brother quietly say, 

“This is going to hurt.”

As he shakes his head, Bruno and the other guy collide in the air. 

There's a metal noise as the bucket hits… something. 

Bruno goes underwater. The bucket floats away. 

As he comes back up and climbs out of the pool, he looks alright. 

That’s when his upper lip starts bleeding. 

That was 20 years ago, and he still has the scar. 

And I still hear his brother’s voice, every time I’m doing something stupid, saying 

“This is going to hurt.” 

It happens more often that I’d like to admit 😅

Hold. Hold. Hooooooold!

Some stories are born ready to be told: you walk in somewhere, have a weird interaction with someone, and it’s done. That story is just a short conversation with maybe a line to introduce it and another one to finish it. 

Sometimes, the events happen over many days, weeks or even longer, and you somehow need to cram all that in a few minutes (or lines). 

And then there’s what happened in the story I told here: after the scene is set, it all happens within seconds. If this was a movie, you could use slow motion. Because it’s not, what you need to do is use way more description than most stories call for:

  • Tell us what you see 

  • Tell us what you hear 

  • Tell us what you feel or think 

  • Tell us what’s happening, but break down the action in lots of small steps 

In most stories, that would be terrible. Too many details are rarely a good thing. But in a very short story, when you want to build tension, all that description becomes just like Mel Gibson on Braveheart, holding that charge, then holding it some more, until the very last moment until everyone is just dying to… die, I guess 🤭

Build your scene little by little. Stretch out the suspense. Make the audience really feel this is going to hurt. 

And then make sure it does 🤘


Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Getting clarity through your story to stand out from all the other coaches, speakers and entrepreneurs out there 

  2. If you dream of speaking on the Red Dot, take this Scorecard and instantly discover how likely your idea is to be accepted by a TED-style organizing committee

  3. If you (or your team) got any storytelling challenges, I’m sure there’s something we can do together ;-)

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