Public Speaking Blog: Want to be a better public speaker? Get the tips, tools & tactics you need with Eamonn O’Brien. The Reluctant Speakers Club trains support staff, managers, executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals to become more polished and confident public speakers, so they can present more persuasively, advance their careers, and become more successful in business.
Have you ever wondered why your brain is more predisposed to remember and take lessons from dangerous experiences you encounter during life than other stuff that comes your way?
To learn why, let’s take a look at a recent case in point:
Why Near-Miss Stories Get Remembered And Shared
Des, a friend of mine in Donegal, had quite the experience recently.
When driving home on a windy day with his teenager daughter, who was talking excitedly about how her team had just won a County final, Des was enjoying their chat and driving at a leisurely 65 km/ hour on a road where most folks drive at 100 km/hour.
All of a sudden, his daughter interrupted their conversation and pointing ahead warned: “That tree looks really weird dad.”
Des looked up and realised they were almost upon a tree that was bending over dangerously, far too far over the road. And while he didn’t see or hear the cracks, he instinctively believed 2 things were true: “that tree is about to snap in two”, and “It’ll crush us if I hit it”…
…And in the same moment, when miraculously it seemed everything was happening in slow motion, Des also remembered thinking: “Now what? Are you going to floor the accelerator and try to get past the tree Des or swerve?”
His instinct made the choice. He slammed on his break and swerved right…hard! And it mostly worked. The full force of the tree hit the car right on the apex between the top of his windscreen and the left corner of his car frame. His daughter screamed, the car began to spin, but somehow, someway he managed to come to a halt inches before careering into a deep ditch.
His gut reaction had been the right one. If he had tried to get past the tree, they would have been toast. If they hadn’t been hit by the tree at that exact spot and angle on the car – which turned out the single strongest point to withstand the blow – they would have been toast.
They were lucky they survived. And as a policeman who came to the scene later said, Des’s quick thinking and lack of speed had made all the difference…as had the sheer fortune that no other cars were around at that exact time either. Destiny had intervened and pure carnage was avoided.
So the day was saved but I have a question: What do you think the chances are that Des will forget that experience in a hurry?
That incident has now been etched into his brain, viscerally. And there’s more…
…Humans are also hard-wired to do two things after surviving a near miss experience:
Learn from how you handled that trauma (which you’ll store in your brain so you’ll be better equipped to deal with similar situations in the future – notwithstanding the fact that memories from trauma are commonly far from perfect), and
Share stories about what happened to you with others. And the latter is because, as Dr Sherry Hamby put it in Psychology Today, it’s quite healing for you to have a chance to pass on your new found wisdom to others
Most Lessons in Life Come From Stories You Experience or Hear
And as a grateful recipient of Des’s cautionary tale, I feel better off too.
Even though I didn’t experience what he did directly, I did experience it vicariously. I recreated all the scenes Des described in my brain as he spoke and imagined what I might have done had I been in his shoes. And I also especially wondered how I would have felt if my kids were in the car with me as well.
And, I’ve taken some lessons from Des’s experiences too. I’ll remember his tale every time I take that road and be minded to slow down (or better still, avoid heavily wooded roads when it’s super-windy).
Sometimes I get inspiration for blog posts on better speaking from odd places and this one – which is about boosting your speaker presence – falls into that category.
I admit it. I love spending time in France. Between the people, the language, the wines, irresistible breads and pastries, the cheeses, the markets, the music, the museums, the history, the vibrancy and community feel you’ll find in every city, town and village, AND amazing (non fast food) cuisine. What’s not to love, right?
I’m just back from a fantastic family holiday where we got to stay and hang out with wonderful friends in Rennes. And of all the things we did, one of my favourite was eating in true French Style. And boy, did we ever embrace the French notion of: “Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup” (AKA: “Eat well, laugh often, love – those you’re with – abundantly”)?
Leisurely breakfasts, lengthy lunches and even longer dinners with sumptuous food mingled with engaging, meandering and memorable conversations (with n’er a mobile phone seen at the table) were the order of the day, every day.
A Recipe for Heightened Speaker Presence Revealed
And leaving aside any worries I had about how spending the best part of 5 hours a day having meals might affect my waistline (and I’ll get to a surprising, bonus revelation on this is a moment), I was delighted to be reminded of a fundamental truth that matters when you want to influence any group:
If you choose to take the time to be truly present with others – listening, sharing stories, and enjoying conversations – the engagement, connection, meaning and motivation everyone takes from time spent together is greatly increased.
Of course, I realise that in this era where being pressed for time is a constant, it can seem easier and more expedient for leaders to engage in rapid-fire, abbreviated, hit and run ‘here’s what I’d like you to know, consider or act upon…Now, go, go, go’ broadcast communications.
Snag is, faster doesn’t mean better when it comes to sharing meaning or influencing others. Rather, audiences who feel speakers take the time to have a conversation with them ahead of just speaking at or to them get far more from these communications (because they feel more involved and immersed).
And the upshot?
Slow down and choose to be more present every time you speak. It’s a win-win proposition for you and your audiences (being more enjoyable, meaningful and memorable) AND – here’s some further good news – it won’t take you much more time to achieve far superior results.
A Bonus Impact-Boosting Realisation for Speakers
So, I mentioned I was a bit worried about just how much weight I managed to add after a week of fine dining in France. And I readily admit I closed my eyes for a moment when I stepped onto a weighing scale yesterday – since I was afraid of what I’d learn.
BUT. Shocker. I was amazed to see I hadn’t gained any weight at all! Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Say what now? You’ve got to be kidding me! I mean, how does that work – especially since I had totally enjoyed and embraced every morsel of every dish and meal? And, somehow, not an extra pound?
Then something dawned on me. We spent so much time eating and enjoying the company of others that we had ZERO time to snack.
Ha. We just focused on enjoying each dining experience and didn’t get distracted by stuff we didn’t need any other times in the day.
Proof positive of the old adage ‘few and well beats many any day of the week’! And that goes for your talks too.
Let’s say you’d like to give a story-centric speech, because you know stories are far and away the most powerful means for a speaker to connect with audiences at an emotional level (true that!) — But you’re only expected to speak for just a few moment and don’t believe you’ll have time to squeeze in a story or to do it justice.
What should you do?
And as you think about this, bear in mind the legendary screenwriter Robert McKee’s opinion:
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.”
Amen. He’s right.
And while there are many other ways to help an audience to see, experience and get excited by your ideas, the truth is: none of these other options is as powerful as a well-told story when it comes to sharing a core message you need to land and to be remembered.
Well, not quite. I bear good news. You don’t have to compromise (much).
There’s a hybrid option you could consider and that’s exactly what I speak about in today’s video.
An Awesome Alternative to Stories Every Speaker Should Know About
Lean in to learn more…
9 July 2018 - YouTube
Want to Take Your Business Storytelling Skills to the Next Level?
If you’d like help to master the art of high impact corporate storytelling, contact me at email@example.com – I’ll be delighted to hear from you.
Inspiration for public speaking tips I share can sometimes come from peculiar places! Here’s a for instance:
You’d have had to be living under a rock not to know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s fairy-tale wedding last weekend. And while I wasn’t one of the reported one billion folks who tuned in to watch the pageantry, pomp and glamour of their big day, my missus Mindy saw the whole thing and loved it.
So what did you think were the best things from the day? I asked her (hours after the fact).
Oh, that’s easy. Said Mindy
Meghan’s frock was fabulous — so simple and elegant.
And, even though it should have been shorter, I loved Bishop Michael Curry of Chicago’s homily — it was refreshingly human
Judging by the highlights I saw later in the day, that was a perfect summary of the event and I was especially struck by two of the phrases Mindy used: ‘simple and elegant’ and ‘refreshingly human’…
…Hmm. Now those are things you should want said of any talk you give. Here’s why:
Why Embracing Simplicity and Being Human is a Winning Formula for Speakers
#1 – Simplicity is powerful and attractive
If you go into most any successful, high end clothing store there’s something you won’t find: clutter!
In fact, their store designers go to great trouble to make sure they highlight wares in ways that you can instantly see and value them in their best light (without having to root through a bazillion rails to find something that might, just might, catch your eye or being distracted by competing garments).
And it’s not just purveyors of haut couture who have long understood the power of simplifiation…
…The late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, had only one sign in his office with the following words penned by Leonardo di Vinci: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
As far as Steve was concerned, these were words he wanted to true of be of every product Apple sold. He succeeded and, to this day, that mentality is still a demonstrably good plan.
And as a speaker, here’s why having a relentless focus on simplicity pays:
It helps you to only focus on what your audience will care about most and find attractive
You and your audience will experience less distraction when you share your powerful message
Plus, you’ll make your audience’s job and your job, as a communicator, easier if only have to remember one message and concentrate all your efforts on helping the power of that message to shine through.
#2 Sharing your humanity will earn you greater trust
The day after the royal wedding, I made it my business to go back and watch a video of Bishop Curry’s homily – as I was especially interested in why my missus found his words so appealing.
And while I’m not going to critique the speech (which was indeed too long) – there are a number of things he did that made his speech feel so relatable.
In addition to: a) speaking to a single, core theme (ie ‘why you should seek to discover the redemptive power of love’), and b) finding ways to challenge his audience…
…he also achieved connection with his audience by exuding presence, passion and plain language.
In doing the latter he shared his essence and vulnerability – which was wonderfully human.
And the reason this matters?
The more human an audience finds you, the more trust they’ll place in you and your messages.
With that said, and in case you’re curious about what the good Bishop had to say, here’s his homily:
Love is the way | Bishop Michael Curry's captivating sermon - The Royal Wedding - BBC - YouTube
Over to You
What lessons would you draw from speakers who have most inspired you over time?
Having fears about business networking isn’t just normal, it’s more wide-spread that you might imagine!
Research shows 1 in 4 people feel so uncomfortable about these situations that they avoid them like the plague. And another estimated 50%, called ambiverts (people who osculate between being introvert and extrovert), admit to experiencing varying degrees of networking butterflies depending on the seniority of people likely to attend an event or how high stakes they think an occasion is.
Yuk, especially since it’s hard to get on in any business or career if you can’t embrace networking. In fact, as the CEO of Campbell Soup Denise Morrison puts it: “Networking is working”
She’s right and here’s just a small selection of why that’s true:
95% of leaders argue that in person meetings are essential to stronger and more meaningful business relationships (Forbes)
The majority (80%) of marketers believe live events are critical to their success (Bizzabo)
70% to 80% of all jobs are found through networking (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
“Say what? Hold the canapes and where’s the exit?” I hear you say! What’s he talking about?
Avoid Wasting Anyone’s Time (Yours Included) at Business Networking Events
Essentially this. If you just share platitudes or information people could have gotten elsewhere at events and/or engage in drive by ‘networking conversations’ and foisting business cards on all and sundry, nothing of substance happens and the whole thing will be a bust for all!
However, here’s what leaders do want and will love: They are hungry for real conversations and real relationships.
And achieving the latter is the topic addressed in my expert interview with keynote speaker, author of The Unnatural Networker and National Director of BNI in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Charlie Lawson – when we delve into how storytelling can help you to boost your networking confidence and results.
How Using Stories Can Transform Your Business Networking Impact
Lean in as we discuss:
What networking is really about and why getting past comfort zone issues and fears is worth it
What you can learn from a travel agent who went the extra mile to look after a honeymooner
Why you don’t want to be a hit and run merchant at events
How finding personal impact from seemingly dull topics can ignite your networking results
One thing you should do to boost your first impression and long term effect on those you meet
Business Storytelling Tips - Use Stories to Boost Your Networking Impact - YouTube
Like Help to Ignite Your Business Storytelling Impact?
If you’d like help to master the art of high impact corporate storytelling, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll be delighted to hear from you.
There’s a good reason why speakers who focus on influence ahead of directing audiences have greater appeal and impact.
That’s because, as author and management expert Ken Balchard puts it so well:
The key to succesful leadership today is influence, not authority.
And the same is true when it comes to being perceived as a thought leader.
Of course, that can seem easier said than done.
And while most everyone, likely including you, would say “Yes please, I’d love to feel I could score more highly on influence when speaking”…
…Wouldn’t it be nice to get some advice from someone who can help you make this happen at speed?
If you said yes, you’re in luck as I recently discussed this exact topic with international expert on how to become a key person of influence plus successful entrepreneur, speaker, event organiser and founder of Dent, Daniel Priestley.
5 Ideas to Help You Become a More In-Demand and Inspiring Speaker
Lean in as we discuss:
The single most important audience you need to delight to boost your speaker impact
Why it pays to make it easy for others to more fully leverage your non speaking content
Reasons you want speaker bookers to know precisely why they should choose you ahead of others
Four things the world’s most inspiring speakers are known for…and you should want said of you
One thing you need to do to influence speaker bookers thinking of hiring you for their events
In the Market for a Speaker Impact and Influence Upgrade?
If you’d like to learn how to speak more clarity, confidence and persuasion, contact me at email@example.com. I’ll be delighted to help you.
How are your ‘Spidey senses’ when it comes to sniffing out if a story you hear and then think “Fabulous. That would be perfect for my talk” is true or not? And does the word ‘real’ matter ?
As an executive speaking coach who specialises in corporate storytelling, I always encourage speakers to favour finding, crafting and honing your own ‘real’ stories ahead of relying on stories you’ve heard elsewhere for 3 reasons:
a) It’s your – which means audiences can’t have heard it before or compare your telling of that story to anyone else
b) Having experienced something, you can more easily relive that story with passion and aplomb
c) Real stories come over as being more authentic. And you do too, as a consequence
But, that doesn’t mean I’m against telling other peoples’ stories. Far from it.
Why Speakers Need to Think About Whether Stories Are Real or Not
However, if you’re going to share stories you’ve heard from others, do yourself and your audience a favour and consider giving every third party tale a smell test before you present it as being real.
Truth is, unlike stories where you know you’re dealing with fiction immediately (like Harry Potter – and here’s me outside the cafe in Edinburgh where J K Rowling, the most successful writer of fiction of our generation crafted her words of pure creativity)…
…Not everything you hear that purports to be fact is what it seems.
Here are two cases in point from when I was traveling from Dublin to Edinburgh this week.
Story Exhibit A:
I got into a chat with a Dublin taxi driver about stories and he told me about a recent experience he had in his cab that he first set up with a prejudiced opinion that many tourists are a bit dim! Here’s the rest of what he had to say:
“You want to know why?
You know how some traffic lights make beeping noises before they turn from Red – like for blind people so they don’t walk into traffic?
Yeah, well I had this American in my car and he hears the beeping at a traffic light and asks me, “What’s that all about”?
So, I say: that’s to warn blind people that the lights are going to change so they don’t get into accidents
“That’s amazing”, says the American, “Where I come from we don’t blind people drive!””
His story made me laugh and I felt instantly tempted to find a chance to share it at a future speaking event…
…But, something stopped me.
His story seemed too neat and, in the back of my head, it even sounded a little familiar. And so, not wanting to appear stupid and get caught out by an audience if this was a tall tale, I Googled it.
Guess what I found?
Hmm. I came across many versions of this exact same story over many years and in different locations.
And here’s the thing. If my inner sense hadn’t told me to double check what he said, I’d have looked like an idiot at the podium for anyone who recognised that the story was a yarn masquerading as truth. And what do you think this would do to my credibility?
Best case, the audience would place less trust in me. Worst case, they’d discount everything else I said.
Ooops. Not worth it, right?
Story Exhibit B:
A few hour later and on my same trip to Edinburgh I got into a conversation with another passenger when my Ryanair flight got grounded due to technical snags and we were asked to deplane and get on a back up plane instead.
While commiserating with each other about how irritating travel delays can be, I admitted to being pleasantly surprised that everyone managed to get off our plane (with all our stuff) and get into the next plane and get seated so quickly.
My new pal Eoin agreed and with a kind of ‘I’ll see your Dublin and raise you a Frankfurt’ recollection said:
Yeah, that was really good alright, but I heard an even better story.
A colleague of mine had a similar issue as us when flying out of Frankfurt on a Ryanair flight – where once again tech issues meant they’d need a new aircraft or they were going nowhere.
But this time there was a snag…
...By the time a new plane was in place at 10:55PM, a Ryanair crew member made this announcement:
Please be aware, because we’re in Frankfurt, where planes are not permitted to take off after 11PM, you have 2 choices:
Option A, You can deplane now and we’ll try to get you where you need to be tomorrow – at times and via flights we don’t know yer – and you’ll have to find hotels to stay at this evening
Or B, and I don’t know if you can manage this, if you can somehow manage to get off this plane and on to the other with all of your bags, you could get out tonight.
That was it. No further instructions were given.
Remarkably, an entire collection of people – who didn’t know each other – managed to self organise and cooperate, with zero fuss, to get from one plane to the next in five minutes flat.
And the result? They made their flight with seconds to spare.
This story is still touted years later as an example of what can happen when people choose to self organise for everyone’s benefit.
Now, the difference between the cab driver’s story and this one was immediately obvious. It didn’t seem too neat and I had no Spidey sense worries about whether this really happened.
Of course, ‘cause I’m a pro, I did still Google the incident to make sure it wasn’t a myth…And, no surprise, I found no evidence that it was.
Why Speakers Should Trust Sources But Test a Little Too
And the moral of today’s post is this – trust your gut when figuring out what’s true but do a little sleuthing too. It pays to be right.
How do you get your head into the right place to pen inspiring speeches or presentations?
I found myself thinking about this question last weekend while on a romantic weekend away with my missus in the gorgeous county of Kerry and taking in the breathtaking coastal views on the road from Sneem to Waterville.
Now I know what you’re thinking:
Seriously Eamonn, that’s sad. So, you’re on a break with your wonderful wife in ‘the Kingdom’, driving along the famed Ring of Kerry, and, since you could see just how fabulous and jaw-droppingly gorgeous everything is, it clearly wasn’t raining…
…And, with all that in view, you start thinking about making speeches! Sheesh!
To be fair, I wasn’t thinking about talks until my wife spotted one of the many little brown signs in Ireland that indicate there’s something nearby that may be of historical or touristic interest.
‘Derrynane Estate’, Mused my missus. “Of course, you know who lived there as a kid, inherited it from his rich uncle, and spent most all his summers here?
I shook my head. I didn’t have a clue.
“Ha”, says my missus, grinning from ear to ear. “I thought you were Mr History. Looks like I know some stuff you don’t. That was Daniel O’Connell’s family estate.”
I was delighted:
That my wife knew this about one of Ireland’s most lauded of Irish political leaders and patriots during the first half of the 1800s – a man who, in my view, was one the very best orators Ireland ever produced.
As a quick aside for those who don’t know much about Daniel O’Connell. He was an accomplished barrister who become known as ‘the Liberator’ in Irish history books. Using powerful arguments well delivered he won Catholic Emancipation and many other rights for the people of Ireland in the British parliament over roughly 4 decades. And, like Gahndi a century later, he decried violence as a means of progressing political progress and illustrated instead how much can be done through persuasive words and persistance.
And even better, having happened upon this place by chance, we had oodles of time to check it out
And while I loved having the opportunity to revisit many things I knew about his life and times plus learn many new things about his childhood, his marriage, and how his anti-violence stance had been influenced by what he saw and experienced in the lead up to and then during the bloody French revolution, that wasn’t the most interesting thing I discovered that morning.
How Your Setting Can Influence Your Ability to Pen Inspired and Inspiring Words
Rather, I was thrilled to learn where he wrote many of his great speeches – because there was a lesson in this.
Check out this little hut above, which was the equivalent of a garden office (or as we call it, after a popular brand name, a ‘Seomra’ in Ireland) that’s right beside his fine mansion and posh house extensions.
In common with Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw and many other famous coiners of words, he escaped from his house and other regular places of work to find a great spot for thinking and writing.
And honestly, that wasn’t just a great idea for him…It’s likely a great notion for you too. Here’s why.
As I mentioneded in an article some time ago on on how to beat writer’s block: Finding somewhere where you have less distractions and feel comfortable is the one the best things you can do to craft more inspiring words. And that’s because it’s easier to free up your mind and thoughts if you “create an environment where you have the opportunity to be both focused and more relaxed”
For me, when writing an outline for a speech or blog post, I like the JK Rowling approach of being in a cafe in a comfy chair, with a cup of coffee at hand and my phone switched to ‘off’, and the knowledge that no one can find or interupt me until my writing is done and I choose to surface again.
What About You?
Where’s the spot where you do your most inspired writing?
Riddle me this: Do you think you need to be funny or entertaining to be a better or more popular speaker?
The hackneyed, ‘ba-dum-ch’ refrain to this question at professional speaker conferences around the world is always a resounding:
“Only if you want to get paid!”
And there’s myriad anecdotal evidence that these words ring true. Speakers who combine being entertaining with an ability to deliver demonstrably valuable and actionable ideas are in short supply and regularly get paid more for their services.
Of course, that’s hardly surprising. They make event organisers look good by pleasing both event attendees and the clients who pay to run events. In short, they make everyone feel like a winner.
Groovy. But, there’s an elephant in the room. What happens if you’d like to be a more in-demand speaker but you’re not very funny (and I’ll let you into a secret, most people fall into this category)? Does that mean that you’re out of luck and destined to play second fiddle to those who can amuse?
Why The Vast Majority of Speakers Shouldn’t Try to Be Funny
Nope. And while I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t try to learn from the world of professional comedy, there are a few home truths/realities you should know about entertaining others as a comedian:
Creating and delivering funny comedic routines is unbelievably hard work (As a personal case in point — the picture I included of me above is taken from an experiment I did to see what would happen if I strayed from being a storytelling centric speaker to try my hand at stand up comedy. And, shock and horror, I can confirm it took me comfortably north of 20 hours of preparation to come up with a routine that lasted just 5 minutes. Yikes!), and
The number of folks who get paid serious bucks to be funny in any country you care to mention is ridiculously low (with the vast majority of people who try to do stand up comedy failing to make any money from their passion)
As a quick aside and instant demonstration of the latter, try this little exercise for me: Close your eyes and think of every stand up comedian or comedy duo you’ve liked for as far back as you can remember. Open your eyes and tell me this: Is there any chance you struggled to think of more than a handful or two of comedians who’ve tickled your funny bones? The answer is likely yes and here’s why: most people, including you, are remarkably selective regarding who they find funny. And even amongst your family or friends, there’s likely huge differences between who y’all find funny.
But folks, worry not. I bring you good news: You don’t have to try to be funny or a comedian to be entertaining!
Realise that telling stories is a far easier way for you to engage with audiences and to entertain them as you share your ideas. And interestingly,when told well, audiences don’t just enjoy and even laugh at stories you share…
…They’re also far more likely to remember them weeks, months or even years later.
And here are a few quick tips to help you up the impact of any stories you share
3 Surefire Tactics to Boost The Impact of Your Stories
Hook your audience quickly – Get stuck into where something is happening as quickly as you can. The faster you can get an audience to start wondering ‘what next?’, the more likely they’ll be agog for the rest of your story
Think relatable – Favour stories your audiences can identify with ahead of dramatic event stories. While not ignoring the latter (especially if they’re really good and true), realise that many people get less personal meaning from more dramatic stories because they can’t imagine themselves having to face the situatuations characters in these stories encounter.
Delight with surprises – Unexpected twists in stories are a source of pleasure for most audiences, causing them to experience heightened emotional reactions and, interestingly, to remember more (because the outcome isn’t what they expect or obvious)
Want to learn more about what it takes to hone your corporate storytelling skills for greater impact, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be delighted to hear from you.
What’s the one thing bestselling writers like Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, JRR Tolkien, George Orwell, John Grisham, Stephen King, Lee Child, etc. have in common that greatly increased the odds their books might be hits?
And while true (since they’re the 2 biggest determinents of books people choose in book stores), you’re not allowed to say: a) They picked great book titles, and/or b) they did an awesome job with their book covers! Treat those as givens.
Of course, the clue is in today’s post title: They started their stories with a bang. They found ways to hook their audience from their first lines, paragraphs and pages and built their page turning fares from there.
And what did they not do?
They didn’t start with humdrum banalities nor expect you to wade through a plethora of pages before their stories broke out!
And that’s because they wanted you to be excited, curious and wondering “What happens next?” at once.
What Speakers Can Learn From Bestselling Storytellers
As a speaker, you should aim to do the same thing when sharing your stories – realising that you don’t have the luxury of people waiting many minutes before your story kicks into gear.
If you don’t get audience attention in a matter of seconds, you may not get it at all!
And to help you with some ideas on how to do that, here’s a small selection of methods commonly used by great writers to put your audience into a state of anticipation in a hurry:
3 Great Ways to Kickstart Stories in Your Presentations
Paint a situation where something is happening to somebody
Suggest foreboding or uncertainty
Pique interest in a central character (giving some insights)
Like some examples of these in action?
Here’s an array of opening lines from 3 great writers to help you to see how each of these ideas might work:
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
J.R.R. Tolken, The Fellowship of The Ring
News item from the Westover (Me) Weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966:
RAIN OF STONES REPORTED
It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlin on 17th August. The stones feel principally on the home of Mrs Margaret White, damaging the roof extensively and ruining two gutters and a downspout valued at $25. Mrs White, a widow, lives with her three year old daughter, Carrieta.
Mrs. White could not be reached for comment.
Stephen King, Carrie
Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Have you noticed that none of these beginnings waste the audience’s time with a ton of backstory?
That’s for good reason. Give your audience just enough to know what’s being talked about and then start your story already.
If you’d like help to master the art of high impact corporate storytelling, contact me at email@example.com – I’ll be delighted to hear from you.