ABT Framework Student Resource Page
Rounds 17


Working Circles

Sign up to host your Working Circle here (separate page)

Sign up to participate in Working Circles (separate page)

Before the first class

Download previous chat logs (separate page)

Session 1 Resources –  Intro

Session 2 Resources – Outer Circle / Singular Narrative

Session 3 Resources – Hero’s Journey

Session 4 Resources – Archplot

Social Media – Keep up with us on the web

Additional Resources

Working Circles 

Synopsis on Working Circles – If you’re new to Working Circles, start by reading this.

Working Circle Half Hour Schedule – Use this to guide you through how to host your half hour Working Circle.

To complete the class, you must sign up to host 1 Working Circle and sign up to participate in 2 Working Circles.

Sign up to host a Working Circle

  • Find an available half hour time slot here.
  • Add your first and last name under Host.
  • Add a short title for your Working Circle under Title.

Host responsibilities

  • Email your participants your ABT before the Working Circle so they have time to review it – we’ll send you the list of your participants’ email addresses 3-5 days ahead of time. 
  • You can send your participants a revised ABT of what you originally submitted to class or use a brand new ABT all together.
  • During the Working Circle, use the ABT Blue Card and follow the half hour schedule.
  • You’re the moderator of the discussion, so do your best to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and provide input.  
  • We’ll send you and your participants a Webex link for your Working Circle 3-5 days before you’re scheduled to host, so no need to worry about that.

Participant responsibilities

  • Sign up to participate in a minimum of 2 Working Circles.  Sign up here.
  • Review the ABT that the host sent you ahead of time.  See if you can think of the 5 Word Problem for the ABT and have it ready for the Working Circle.
  • Be prepared to use the ABT Blue Card and all the tools you’ve learned in class to help the host clarify their narrative.

Before the first class 

Sign up to host a Working Circle (see above)

Download the ABT Blue Card – Have it open or printed out and ready for each class.

Watch the AAAS video:

Session 1 Resources – Intro

Dr. Weknowdis:

Medical Obfuscation: Structure and Function – Michael Crichton’s paper on how medical communication does NOT have to be as hard to understand as it is.

Risk Communication on Climate: Mental Models and Mass BalanceThe IPCC Report:  Summary for Policymakers is targeted as “easy to understand” climate science for policymakers, but it’s so complicated that even MIT grads with STEM backgrounds can’t understand it.  

Three Forms of the ABT – It’s recommended you read this article and get an understanding of the cABT (Conversational ABT).  This will be coming up a lot in class.

If you had an ABT Build session and want to get your notes from the chat, then you can download previous chat logs here.

Optional Exercise #1: The 5 Word Problem

“What’s the problem?” is the most common question Randy asks during the ABT Builds, so it’d be a good idea to prepare it ahead of time. For this exercise, try to finish this sentence “The problem is _____” and use only 5 additional words.

Examples: The problem is bad resource management.

The problem is the old method doesn’t work.

The problem is we have bad data.

Stripping down your problem to just 5 words can help you clarify what your core narrative is really all about by shedding off all the information and leaving us with just the main story point.


Session 2 Resources – Outer Circle & Singular Narrative

Week 1 Working Circles are available.  Sign up to participate here.

The One Thing:

Nicholas Kristof’s Advice for Saving the World  –  The importance of the singular narrative.

Optional Exercise #2: Using the Dobzhansky Template to find your “One Thing.”

Restructure your ABT in the form of a Dobzhansky Template to help you find your singular narrative.

Dobzhansky Template: Nothing in _______ makes sense, except in the light of ________.

Examples: Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.

Nothing in geology makes sense, except in the light of plate tectonics.

Nothing in the management of mule deer makes sense except in the light of correctly estimating abundance.

Nothing in the challenge of teaching human anatomy makes sense except in the light of time management.

Session 3 Resources – Hero’s Journey 

Posted after Session 3

Session 4 Resources – Archplot

Posted after Session 4

Social Media

Science Needs Story – Randy Olson’s Blog.

@ABTAgenda – Follow Randy on Twitter.

ABT Time Podcast – All things ABT, start to finish.  In this weekly hour long post Randy will discuss observations, applications and implications of this powerful tool that is at the core of his narrative training program and effective communication of all forms.  Livestreamed every Wednesday at 3:00 pm Pacific time on Youtube.  Available the next day for audio download.

ABT Framework Course & Story Circles Grads – A private Facebook group just for graduates of the course where you can post about any ABT related topic you find around the ‘net.  Once you request access, we’ll let you in.

Story Circles & ABT Training – An open-to-all Facebook Fan page.

The ABT Agenda Newsletter – We send out a newsletter a few times a year with new ABT related events, news, and course updates.  If you sign up, we promise not to spam you with tons of junk!


Additional Resources

“They Say / I Say” – A book on arguing in an ABT-like style.

Uri Hasson’s Paper on Neurocinematics – For a look at how narrative and non-narrative affects the brain. This paper was referenced in the AAAS video.