More About the Retreat

  • Does being average bore you?
  • Are you driven by the pursuit of excellence?
  • Do you have what it takes to motivate and inspire people?

Picture yourself giving a presentation. You’re in complete control.
You know exactly what you’re doing. When you want a laugh, you get it.
When you want an emotional response, you get it. Your stories work
every time. And at the end of your presentation people gather around
to shake your hand and tell you how much they loved your stories.


It’s not about talent. It’s about craft.

If you’re tired of falling short of your potential as a speaker, it’s not because you’re not talented. It’s because no one has ever helped you capitalize on your talent. It’s because most presentation skills courses try to squeeze you into a mold that’s supposed to work for everybody. You’re not everybody. You’re unique.

You are a one of a kind masterpiece in the making…

Do you have any idea how many opportunities you’ve blown by trying to fit into that mold? Are you tired of settling for average when you know you can be amazing? Maybe you need a coach who can help you realize your potential – one who has a proven methodology for success.


“Doug, you are a wizard, and the Story Theater Retreat is where you perform alchemy! Frankly, anyone who doesn’t take advantage of your skill in bringing out the best in a story and in them is a fool! And you can tell them I said so!”

– Ric Giardina, Program Manager, City of San Jose, CA


You’ll never achieve your dream by just thinking about it…

I love working out. My biggest challenge however, is getting to the gym. Once I’m there, it’s great. How about you? Do you procrastinate, but once you get into an activity, you’re fine? Do you make excuses about why NOW is not a good time to start? And then you see someone else’s speaking career take off, or see someone else get the promotion you were hoping for, and you think to yourself, “Is it ever going to be the right time?”

Does it drive you crazy?

Does it drive you crazy when you hear a speaker tell a story and they just blow it? They begin fine and then they get lost. They forget critical elements and then make matters worse by trying to go back and insert things out of sequence. And just when the story is getting interesting, it ends, but you have no idea what the point is. Or even worse, they make a point but it has nothing to do with the story! Have you ever done this yourself?

Ever think to yourself, “I’m better than that speaker and they’re getting paid?”

The truth is, you probably are better than that speaker. But they didn’t sit around making excuses, they did something. They took a class, built a website and started marketing and selling themselves until they figured out how to get someone to pay them to speak. Is it time for you to take action?


Actions speak louder than excuses

I can’t tell you how many of my over 1000 coaching clients have said to me, “I should have come to The Story Theater Retreat five years ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief and a lot of money. Now that I know what was getting in my way, I can be amazing.”

Good intentions are not enough

Most speakers have good intentions. They want to use stories well, but they lack the knowledge and skills to do so. They don’t realize how confusing they’re making things for their listeners. They choose stories that they think will work, but they don’t know how to craft them.


“I love that my coaching session was recorded onto a DVD. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why a change needs to be made until you can sit back and watch it. Also, getting feedback from 4 people is priceless! Doug is a firm yet fair coach and has an ear for missing or rogue details. Every word, every movement, and every technique is designed to drive your story forward with the sole purpose of landing on the point you want to make with that story. You walk away really understanding how to apply what you’ve learned. Doug has definitely perfected a method that you can duplicate with every story you have.”

– Cindy Kubica, CSP, professional speaker


Has the following scenario ever happened to you?

It’s a Monday afternoon and you’re about to give an important presentation. You’ve worked on it all weekend. You have to nail it. You’re excited and feeling good. You begin by clicking through your slides and all is well. But by the fourth slide, you can feel the energy in the room draining away.

Quick – tell a story

You make a split second decision to tell the story you were saving for later on in the presentation. As you start telling the story, your energy shifts. You become more animated and so does your audience. They start to smile and nod. You’re having more fun and they’re more attentive. You think to yourself, “It’s working, the story is working.” After your presentation, people congratulate you and comment on how they loved your story.

Encore, encore!!!

Your presentation was such a hit that you’re asked to give it to another group a week later. So, having learned your lesson, you go back to your office and make a few adjustments to your PowerPoint. This time, you’ll tell the story earlier in the presentation.

But there’s a problem

This time, when you get to the only thing that worked well the last time, the story, you stumble. Now you’re the one forgetting critical details and going out of sequence. And to make matters worse, instead of making a clear and concise point, you ramble all over the place. It’s like your mouth has a mind of its own. This time, no one shakes your hand. They just shake their heads and leave the room.

You blew the opportunity

Afterwards, as you’re trying to figure out what went wrong, you’re at a loss. Because you hadn’t really crafted and practiced the story, you didn’t know why it worked the first time. And this time, when it didn’t work, you didn’t know why either. As your coach, I’d tell you that it’s not about talent, it’s about craft. You simply didn’t understand the craft of storytelling. And don’t kid yourself; it is a learnable skill. You can be a great storyteller.


“After delivering an address to over 200 applauding Silicon Valley managers, people thronged around me. They specifically mentioned how much they enjoyed the stories. Doug’s Story Theater Retreat was an investment with hugely positive payoffs.”

– Don Maruska, Author of How Great Decisions Are Made


It happened to me too!

It happened to me in the beginning of my speaking career, as well. I’d tell a story brilliantly one day and the next time, I’d be all over the place. It was annoying and embarrassing to be really good one day, and lousy the next. And then it dawned on me…

Actors have a script – they memorize their lines

The experience I just described never happened to me when I was an actor. When I was in a play, there was a script. I memorized my lines. The same actors would say the same lines and move around the stage in exactly the same way every night, and it always worked.

The script shall set you free

I realized that the thing that was missing from my ability to tell a great story was consistency. And consistency can only happen when you have the right script. It’s not that I didn’t have a great story. Every time I told the story well, the script was inherently there. I just hadn’t written it down and memorized it. I told myself that the reason I didn’t write it down and memorize it was because I wanted it to stay fresh and spontaneous.

Spontaneous is good. Sloppy is bad.

The truth is – I was lazy. As an actor, I didn’t have to write a script. The playwright has already done that. But now I was a speaker and to be honest, I didn’t know how to write a script. Writing is hard. It’s tedious and it takes a lot of time. But if I wanted to be excellent, all the time, I had to learn how to write. Writing is an essential step in crafting a brilliant story.


How I became a storytelling coach

When I joined the Colorado chapter of the National Speakers Association in 1994, there was one story that I’d scripted and memorized; my Streaking Story. One Saturday morning, I performed it at a chapter showcase and got a standing ovation. Afterwards, a guy named Tom asked me if l could teach him how to add the “acting parts” to his stories.

The Story Theater Retreat was born

As an actor for over 20 years, I acted on stage in everything from Snoopy to Shakespeare and in movies, TV and TV commercials. When I started speaking, it was natural for me to “act out” conversations and characters. And without consciously choosing to do it, I’d developed a 3-dimensional approach to telling stories that combined narrative storytelling with acting and comedy. When I was asked to teach what I did, I was compelled to analyze what I did in order to teach it. Eighty retreats and over 1000 students later, I’ve got it down to a science.

The Story Theater Method

The method that I teach frees you to be your very best. It gives you permission to express yourself emotionally, to be funnier than you’ve ever imagined and to tell stories that change people’s lives. This method will set you free. And make you more valuable in the marketplace.


Are you ready to be amazing?

It was clear from the first Story Theater Retreat in 1996, that everybody that came to me had talent. I’m not kidding. Everybody, from salespeople to engineers, from executives to trainers, from beginning speakers to seasoned veterans, was capable of being incredibly powerful and effective – as soon as I showed them what to do and what not to do. They just didn’t know what they didn’t know. They didn’t have a method.

Picture this…

You’re in the beautiful desert of Tucson, Arizona on another perfect, blue-sky day.  You and three other people from various walks of life have come together to learn how to be better storytellers. You feel safe. You’ve been wanting to do this for years and now you’re doing it. And there are only four students! You’re finally going to get the one-on-one individual attention you need to break through to your brilliance. Not someday…today!


“You and Deborah have thought of everything. Excellent video recording, creature comforts, etc.  This relaxed atmosphere is very conducive to learning.”

– Rosemary Ward, CEO of Training Direct


Not your typical workshop

Everything about this experience feels different. Deborah and I are taking care of your every need. You’re doing acting, brain gym, and improvisation exercises. It’s a safe place to take risks. In this environment, you can let down your guard. You can experience yourself as you’ve always dreamed…brilliant, funny, dramatic and powerful.

So much bad advice

As I’m coaching you, you keep thinking to yourself, “Everything Doug is saying to me goes against what I’ve been taught; but what I’ve been taught has been holding me back!” And you’re right. Much of what you’ve been taught has inhibited your natural expression, your unique talent, your awesome emotional power. I’m going to help you get out of your own way.

What is it costing you to wait?

Knowledge is power. When you have it and apply it, you move up the ladder of success. Whether you want to be a professional speaker or a better trainer or leader, learning how to tell a spellbinding story, gives you that power. As a speaker, storytelling is the most powerful communication tool you have. It teaches a lesson. It engages attention. It changes hearts and minds.


“This retreat has the ability to impact your life and certainly will impact the way you look at training and presenting material. If you think you are good at presenting and teaching, this retreat will make you great. I have attended many hours of training in 23 years plus of training/teaching all over the U.S. and NOTHING compares to this retreat.”

– Jeff Robinette, Training Manager


4 people – 2 ½ days

The retreat (in the US) is limited to four people. The only requirement is that you are ready to breakthrough to your brilliance. People from all walks of life and professions attend. Some want to be professional speakers. Others have been speaking professionally for decades and want to take their storytelling to the next level. From Toastmasters to trainers, from managers to salespeople, and from entrepreneurs to executives, all are welcome. I’ve coached a member of the House of Lords in England and helped a speaker win second place at the Toastmasters world championship of speaking.

The retreat (in the US) takes place over an evening and two full days. You’ll learn on your feet during two hour-long coaching sessions with me, as well as from watching me coach the other students. Both of your coaching sessions are video-recorded on a DVD. Comedy, drama and improvisation exercises will expand your dramatic range. And because everyone is in the same boat, going in the same direction, you’ll feel safe enough to take the kind of risks necessary to step into your true authentic power.


“In a nutshell, there was no judgment in the room, either from Doug or from the other students. There was really no space for judgment to enter the process, which made it safe. Working with Doug is amazing. He got me. He figured out exactly what I needed to do to improve my skills. He wasn’t too easy, and he wasn’t too hard. It was just the right push to move me on my way. And I watched him do this time and again with the other participants.”

Dana Lightman, Ph.D, professional speaker


Find your funny

Most of my students don’t think of themselves as funny. They get laughs on occasion, but not consistently. By the end of the retreat however, they are proud to proclaim, “I am funny.” For many, this is a revelation and worth the cost of admission alone. Trust me, I will show you how to be funny. And if your goal is to be a better speaker, you’d better learn how to be funny.

It’s your move

We schedule retreats based on your schedule. We call it “collaborative scheduling.” Rather than setting random dates on a calendar, we ask that you call us and give us the date options that work for you. Give us three or four date combinations spanning three consecutive days. When we find four people who can attend on the same dates, (and I’m also available!), we make it happen. It’s up to you.


You deserve this…

“THANK YOU for changing my speaking career forever! You brought out the best in me. Since applying your techniques, I have quadrupled my fees! I will recommend you to every speaker who is serious about exploring and polishing their craft.”

– LeAnn Theiman, CSP, CPAE, Co-Author, 5 Chicken Soup books, including, Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul


“I never took a retreat that was so intimate before. Although I have been on retreats,
this time, I felt much more part of the event. I always learn and always grow, but this
time was just for ME. The care and patience you took with the coaching felt custom
made – just for ME. The retreat was absolutely worth it.”

– Allan Gorman, Advertising and Branding Expert


Payment Options

Call now and Deborah will work with you to develop a payment schedule that allows you to get the coaching you need now, and pay for it over time.

Contact Deborah at 719-310-8586,
or email her at
deborah@DougStevenson.com. Thank you!

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