The Dinner Test: Why Every Good Story Must Pass This Test (and How to Do It)

Matthew Dicks is a legendary storyteller.

He’s the author of Storyworthy and the winningest storyteller in Moth history (look up The Moth, you won’t be disappointed). He’s won 48 StorySLAMs and 6 GrandSLAM championships.

Matt believes every good story must pass something he calls “The Dinner Test”.

What is The Dinner Test?

The Dinner Test is basically this: your story, the one that you tell at a sales conference, at the bar, or even on stage, should be very similar to the story you would tell a friend at dinner.

They should be kissing cousins. Different, for sure, but not terribly different.”

That’s your goal.

How to Pass the Dinner Test?

Storytelling is simply that — telling a story. It’s not theater or poetry. It’s a slightly more crafted version of the story you’d tell your buddies over beers.

  1. Don’t start your story with dialogue. You would never do this at the dinner table. Imagine someone asking you to tell a story and you pause, then go:
  2. “Wham! The car slammed into the guard rail after we spun out of control.”
  3. Don’t do weird hand gestures. Applicable if verbally telling a story to someone. The example Matt uses is the fluttering of a butterfly. You wouldn’t add those theatrics while telling your story over dinner.
  4. Talk or write normally. Don’t use “purple pansies were particularly pleasant on their plus pillow of purple petunias.” No one talks like that, and no one would have dinner with someone who talked like that, either.
  5. It should sound authentic, not crafted. Write like you speak. It should be prepared, yet it should sound like you’re speaking completely off the cuff. “People want to feel that they are being told a story.”

And that’s it! The Dinner Test is a guarantee that you don’t sound theatrical or inauthentic. Use this in all of your writing and storytelling.

This post was created with Typeshare




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Jason Gutierrez

Jason Gutierrez

7x Top Writer on Medium | 2M+ Views and Counting | Stories on writing, life, and entrepreneurship |

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