Do NOT Forget to Step Out to Bring Your Audience In (a Lesson in Dialogue)

Stepping out to bring them in

Stepping out to bring them in

If you follow me at all, you know I believe that dialogue is the heart of your story and therefore the heart of your speech. It breathes life into your speech because…

  1. It automatically brings the audience into the present moment of your scene
  2. It lets your audience members hear what you heard and see what you saw
  3. It essentially allows your characters to speak directly to your audience members and give them a valuable message

Can there be too much dialogue?

Can there be too much dialogue? Yes, especially if it all happens at one time. For example, when two characters go back and forth in conversation too many times, that can be boring for your audience.

Therefore, if your characters have a lot to say to each other, I recommend the following two ideas in order to keep your audience engaged.

  • Condense to connect. In other words, cut down on all of what was said and only leave in the most important lines. I believe if you go back and forth between characters more than 3-4 times, you’ll likely start to lose your audience.
  • Step out. For example, let’s say your characters are going to go back and forth 4 times in their conversation with each other. Well, after the first couple of back and forth lines of dialogue, step out of your scene and talk to the audience for a bit. This breaks up the dialogue, brings the audience in, and intrigues the audience because they want to know what is going to happen in the rest of the story.

Take a look at the following 2-minute story I told in South Africa. Instead of going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth in my conversation with my seatmate, I go back and forth a couple of times and then step out and talk to the audience before stepping back into the scene to finish the story.


Welcome back. Did you see how stepping out of the scene to break up the back and forth dialogue kept my audience engaged? We even uncovered a few laughs. The key is the make sure you remember to step back into your scene to finish it.

The Process

The process is quite simple. If you find yourself going back forth more than 2-3 times with lines of dialogue, try stepping out before you continue the rest of the story. Think about what question you might ask your audience that’s relevant to the story or to their own experiences. Then step back in and finish the dialogue and the story.

Your Turn

Have you used a step-out moment? Where in your story can you use one?

Craig Valentine

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