5 Reasons why it might NOT be best to lead with a story

not_story

“Always lead with a story”.

I wonder who gave him that advice?

It sounds feasible, even powerful.

Stories ARE powerful.

They engage, build credibility, create an emotional tone, set the scene.

And all of those things are what is needed from a speech opening.

But they are not the only options for a speech opening.

You can do something that really GRABS attention, if that is necessary.  And you will waste anything that is not aimed at getting attention and holding  it … like saying “hello” or testing the microphone.  But between those extremes there are many choices.  You can open with a quote, you can use a different language or colloquialism, you can use humour, you can ask a question.  You can refer to a person or event that has local interest at the moment you speak.

And you can use story.

But certainly not ONLY story.

Does this audience relate to story?  Do they value that emotional connection?  Perhaps they are sleepy after lunch.  A story, unless it is incredibly punchy, may be too slow.

Has something happened immediately before your speech that MUST be addressed?  Avoid that or, indeed, the elephant in the room, and you lose a powerful opportunity to connect and engage.

Is this a regular gig?  Perhaps you periscope your tips every few days.  If you open with the same signature story every single time and, congratulations!, you have regular followers, they certainly don’t want to hear it over and over again.  “For Goodness’ sake,” I mutter, “you promised me 5 tips on this thing, get on with them!!”  “And you don’t have to sell me on who you are, I KNOW you already!”

Please don’t open with a story unless you have it fine-tuned and powerful.  You need to know exactly what you are creating with the story, why you are using it, and have removed anything that does not contribute to that outcome.   This is especially true if you are trying to establish your credibility.  One tiny flaw, one tiny doubt in that story, one weakness and you have me doubting you, wondering about that weakness or doubt and I lose the trust you need me to have and you have to build it up again.  Those tips, that content, had better be good!

Make sure, too, that the story does actually serve some sort of purpose.  I understand that story creates connections, all on its own.  It also creates it own energy, no matter where you use it in the speech.  But we, your audience, are creatures with short attention spans, especially if we discovered you as we were flicking through the internet, or are sitting in your audience reading from devices.  Tell me a pointless story and you insult me and lose my attention.  I return to my browsing.  I gave you my time and attention in hope of receiving something of use, or an experience worth attending.    Reassure me that that is what I am getting by having the purpose of the story absolutely obvious – at some time soon!!

I say “Thank you” to the man who provoked me to write this article.  I like him and I value his content.  I was just sad and irritated to see him devaluing himself by taking advice that wasn’t suitable to his uses.

“Lead with a story”, by all means but not ALWAYS!

 

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You might also be interested in:

All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World

The story of a secret – your secret

Standing out in the deluge

“The Story is Everything”

 

Make sure your audience follows you by giving them signposts

People will hear and understand what they expect from a presentation.

If they do not hear what they were expecting then they will be confused and tune out.
If they do not understand the point of the presentation they will tune out.

It is important from the start of the presentation to cue the audience into who you are, what your credentials are and what you are going to do with them.

This does not have to be spelt out in words. There are all sorts of ways using references, body language and stories, for example, to set the scene and cue into what to expect from the presentation.

And this needs to continue throughout the presentation. Bridging between points should be seamless, but needs to, nevertheless, give those same cues as to what is happening and what to listen for.

One of the most powerful cues is the cue for a conclusion. This can wake people up. They are always ready for the wrap-up, and obviously the final point is one thing that they will remember (if you make it memorable) along with the opening.

So if you want people to give you attention and engage with your material throughout the speech give them the signposts they need so that they know what to listen for.

…………………………….

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. This has been tip number 10 in the 30 speaking tips. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
 
 

Quick public speaking tip – choose your attention-getting introduction

How will you hook your audience – get their attention – make them focus on you and your speech? Anecdote? Dramatic statement? Question? Personal experience? Make your choice on the basis of: the composition of your audience, the theme of your presentation, and its length, and what you hope to achieve with it, and then apply all of your confidence and practice to making it effective.

3 Ways to Use Prezi Big Pictures to Make a Big Impression

Welcome to this guest post from Jim Harvey. Jim helps speakers with his very practical approach, an approach he has developed for himself and his clients through years of research and experience. Enjoy his insights on creating the big picture with Prezi.

A big picture is what makes Prezis immediately stand out from all other presentations, and lets your audience know they’re in for a different type of presentation. Because of its zoom functions, Prezi allows you to put images at the heart of your presentation – even incorporating all of your information into one picture.

No matter how you’re structuring your presentation, there’s probably a way to incorporate a big picture which makes it easier to understand and more interesting to watch. Here are three big picture techniques I use when designing presentations for myself and my clients.

1. Set the scene

Pictures have the power to make us think and understand things which we’d need hundreds of words to convey. It might be a landscape photograph which reminds us of a place we love, or a diagram which shows us how a manufacturing process works. Sometimes one image can explain exactly what your presentation is about – making it the perfect backdrop to your introduction, or window into the subject you’re explaining.
In Prezi, a big picture has the power to set the mood of your entire presentation. You can begin with it filling the screen, giving exactly the message you want to begin with, and even structure the rest of the presentation in and around that image.

A Prezi with an Informative Big Picture

For this Prezi: http://prezi.com/ow8zo7rbkt7v/raise-the-rate/

2. Show the structure of your presentation

A big picture can act like a map – showing where your presentation is going, and giving context to each point you make. This makes your whole presentation work, because it shows how everything links together and relates to your overall message.

It’s a great approach to delivering both short and long presentations, and particularly useful if you’re building up a series of points, for example to argue “3 reasons why xyz”. At the end of the presentation your audience should be able to look at your big picture, and pick out the three reasons you’ve identified.

Prezi with a Clear Structure

(for this prezi: http://prezi.com/y3f0vwjfiayl/we-day/ )

3. Present in a different way

Prezi allows us to plan presentations in an entirely new way – instead of creating an inflexible path through the information in advance, you can simply decide how to structure your presentation on the day. We’ve used this method before by creating infographic type big pictures, which cover all of the information a client may like to know.

When we come to present, we deliver a short introduction and then ask the client, “what would you like to know?” In present mode, you can click anywhere in a Prezi and be taken to that point – from there you can follow a linear path or carry on moving around organically.

Prezi Made for Exploring Naturally

For prezi: http://prezi.com/xtthuex5lynq/prezi-faq/

Jim Harvey is a presentation skills coach and blogger. His aim is to help people to tell stories – about themselves and their products – better. Take a look at his presentation skills blog, or find out more about using Prezi.

Public speaking tip: Are you pushing out your audience by pushing in the dates, figures and statistics?

Dates, figures and statistics are all very powerful ways to support your points.

Overuse them, though, and they just become boring, and your audience will turn off.

If data is absolutely necessary, use your slides to create a visual rendition of it.

Tell stories about it.

Find some way to relate it to your audience – percentages of people like them, for example, or of their country.

Quick public speaking tip: your introduction

The introduction to your speech should

– Build credibility
– State your objectives
– Overview the elements
– Lead into the main point

and give a short background for the points to follow

Public speaking tip – arouse, focus and keep attention

The very first thing to do in any speech or presentation is to take and hold the audience’s attention – arouse it, focus it and keep it. Don’t waste your breath on the expected or the blah. If you must begin with something like “Good evening”, then make it different, or unusual. Here in Australia, we might say “G’day!” That would be unexpected. Otherwise use your voice and body language to make the greeting unusual, challenging, noticeable. Use pause here. Then use an opening that grabs the attention. You can use a question, a joke, a comment about the people or surroundings or event. You can make a statement, use a quotation, or simply use body language or gesture. But choose that opening to grab attention, to align with the audience and their needs, hopes and aspirations, and to lead into your message.
   

Make sure your audience follows you by giving them Signposts

People will hear and understand what they expect from a presentation.

If they do not hear what they were expecting then they will be confused and tune out.
If they do not understand the point of the presentation they will tune out.

It is important from the start of the presentation to cue the audience into who you are, what your credentials are and what you are going to do with them.

This does not have to be spelt out in words. There are all sorts of ways using references, body language and stories, for example, to set the scene and cue into what to expect from the presentation.

And this needs to continue throughout the presentation. Bridging between points should be seamless, but needs to, nevertheless, give those same cues as to what is happening and what to listen for.

One of the most powerful cues is the cue for a conclusion. This can wake people up. They are always ready for the wrap-up, and obviously the final point is one thing that they will remember (if you make it memorable) along with the opening.

So if you want people to give you attention and engage with your material throughout the speech give them the signposts they need so that they know what to listen for.

…………………………….

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. This has been tip number 10 in the 30 speaking tips. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
 
 

Great Openings. Use a Pertinent Activity

Using a pertinent activity as an opening gets the audience’s attention because it makes them active. It gives them the opportunity to move physically which makes them more alert and comfortable. It lets them learn and participate with one another. Finally, it put you in charge. That’s right, when you cede temporary authority to your audience you get larger in their minds. => http://bit.ly/w3bOZG

Concluding Your Presentation: End With A Bang, Not With A Whimper

Your conclusion should do much more than simply tell your listeners that your presentation is over. Your entire presentation, in fact, can hinge on the final impression you make. It’s that last impression that can linger the longest. So preparing a strong ending to your presentation is every bit as important as preparing a strong opening.

Read on …