The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Students Develop Personal Narratives with Kate Hilton '99

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The topic for the October 12th Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) session was finding and using your personal narrative. Kate Hilton, a lawyer and consultant at Harvard University, and a Dartmouth ’99 introduced the topic to the group by sharing her own personal narrative and asking the students to be open to developing their own. Each student in the room had the opportunity to think of their own personal narrative and to dictate this narrative to three other students within the program. They each then received feedback to learn how to improve their narrative, and were given the opportunity to say their newly polished narrative.

A major point that Ms. Hilton addressed to students was the emphasis to use emotions based on your values to get an action out of your audience. She explained to the group that, “It isn’t until we feel really moved to do something, that we act.” She wanted the group to realize that the purpose of a personal narrative is not to simply stir conversation, it is meant to get people to do something for the better good of the community. One student in a reflection said, “I learned that there is an intentional structure to the personal narrative to motivate people.”

Ms. Hilton also helped to illustrate what prohibits people from acting and techniques in the personal narrative to get past such inhibitors. She described how there are certain emotions we should try to convey, such as hope or urgency to get people to respond to our narratives. She explained that this emotion comes from our ability to allow the audience to imagine what we are saying, “It’s in the images [of a speech] that you feel something, because you could picture it.” This ability to evoke images along with linking your narrative to an action or purpose were the main takeaways student’s came away with from this week’s session.
--Troy Dildene '13

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