Robert Wilson

#364: How to Make Your Complex Story Simple and Compelling

#364: How to Make Your Complex Story Simple and Compelling

Albert Einstein reportedly once said, “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.”

The same can be said for communications.

How do you share a complex idea as simply as possible while still communicating the depth of your knowledge or offering? As a business communicator, you no doubt tackle this complex-to-simple challenge every day.

So in this episode, we will explore how academia uses storytelling to engage students studying complex subjects, in this case, geography.

Robert Wilson is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He teaches courses on environmental history, animals and society, and climate history and politics. 

Learn about the popular storytelling course Bob created called Writing Geography, a creative non-fiction writing seminar for MA and Ph.D. students. Not only does his course serve geographers but also attracts students from the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and business.

We explore how to use stories to convey abstract information and how scientists, academics, engineers and other professionals dealing with complex subject matter can use narrative to captivate their audiences and move them to action.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The pushbacks Bob received for introducing storytelling in his course from other faculty and leadership academia 
  • How Bob uses the ABT in his work and why he believes it is the cornerstone of teaching a class
  • Why the ABT is the perfect tool for writing your Abstracts and we dissect Bob’s ABT in his Abstract on his paper, Writing geography: Teaching research writing and storytelling in the discipline 
  • What is creative non-fiction and how this form of writing can bring layers of meaning and connection to your writing
  • Why you to need focus on the one singular narrative when communicating your big, complicated idea before diving into the theoretical, abstract work
  • How Bob incorporates storytelling tools in his syllabus to give his students a sense of story structure
  • Bob gives us his quick golden rules of storytelling


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