A Simple Structure For Storytelling That Anyone Can Use

Storytelling with ABT

Humans are wired for stories and storytelling has been around for ages. Stories have been the primary way to connect and have the power to influence people. Almost all stories that are engaging and easy to understand seem to have an invisible structure. If you don’t know where to look, it may seem hard to find that structure.

Randy Olson, a marine biologist-turned-filmmaker provides a simple 3-step framework that can be used in diverse situations. He devised the ABT narrative framework primarily to help scientists make their presentations engaging so it reaches a wider audience.

What’s ABT framework?

ABT stands for And, But, Therefore. And sets up the story, But presents the conflict, Therefore reveals the solution and the end of the story.

This framework can be seen in many stories and movies. For example, the movie Die Hard can be pitched in one line using this framework. 

Policeman John McClane is visiting his estranged wife on Christmas Eve AND joins her at a party in the high-rise office building where she works, BUT the festivities are interrupted by terrorists who take everyone hostage except McClane, THEREFORE he has to save everyone all by himself.

How Does 'ABT' Work?

The ABT framework organises information in a way that is clear and concise. The main concept of the ABT framework is to connect the pieces of information and build tension, which finally gets resolved. This makes the story compelling to any audience and is much more effective than just stating plain facts and data.

The framework can be simplified further:

AND = Beginning = Setup 

This part lays down information using the connection word ‘AND’ which helps to set up the story.

BUT = Middle = Tension

Conflict keeps all stories moving. Introduce the tension in the story by using ‘BUT’. It also helps enter the middle of the story.

THEREFORE = End = Resolution

This part of the story pulls everything together. It tells about the main point or moral of the story. It can also act as the precursor to the rest of the story.

An easy template to remember the framework is:
statement/data AND statement/data BUT other data/condition that complicates the situation THEREFORE a resolution that was devised to simplify the situation.

How Can You Put This To Practice?

Anyone can use the ABT framework, especially in the business world if you are making elevator pitches, presenting to clients, writing reports, or planning campaigns. 

Here’s the framework if Slack, a business communication platform, used it:

Employees in large and growing organizations use emails to communicate with their teammates 

AND end up with multiple email chains

BUT sifting through these endless email chains is time-consuming 

THEREFORE they switched to Slack, which gives real-time access to conversations.

Using this framework begins by identifying the protagonist of the story and understanding their problems. The ABT framework is a quick way to structure your story and make it concise. Give it a try. 

For more such information on storytelling, take a look at the blog page.