In 2018 I was invited to give a talk to the geology students at my undergraduate institution, Cornell College (that’s the Cornell in Iowa, by the way). I had been working with the Geologic Resources Division of the National Park Service for a few years at that point, and my former professors wanted me to describe my position as well as some of the career opportunities that might be available to students entering the world with a degree in geology.
The talk was scheduled for after class, just before the students went to lunch. There would, of course, not be a quiz. I knew that I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to grab and hold their attention for half an hour!
I had read Randy’s book Houston, We Have a Narrative, and completed the Story Circles training with some colleagues. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to put this ABT thing to the test.
One of the applications of ABT described in “Houston…” is the logline maker template. It is a series of ABTs with gradually rising stakes that you might recognize from 90% of movie trailers. It begins with “In an ordinary world, (AND) there is a flawed individual. (BUT) their world is upended, (THEREFORE) they take stock and decide to take action BUT then…” For best results, read it in a deep, dramatic voice.
I used this template to write my talk, beginning with me as a college freshman who has his world upended by taking a geology course and finally lives happily ever after by securing a geology position with the National Park Service. My hope was that by starting from a point that all of the students could relate to, I could keep them interested as I described the research projects and internship that finally led to my current job.
And guess what, it worked! The students ignored their rumbling stomachs, ignored the clock on the wall, and listened to my entire presentation. They even asked questions afterward! Many of them have remembered me when our paths have crossed at conferences or homecoming events since then.
They weren’t the only ones who learned something that day. Every single talk, presentation, and poster that I have created since then has used the ABT!
Geologic Resources Inventory Report Writer/Editor
Colorado State University/Cooperator to the National Park Service