Imagine you are in the audience when I open my presentation with this story:
How many of you have spent a week with a Zulu warrior? I have and it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life. In October 2014 I went on safari in South Africa. Our guide was a young man named Amon. Now Amon came from a long line of Zulu warriors. We got a glimpse of his lineage at 5:30 each morning when he woke us up shouting, “Everybody get in the jeep! Everybody get in the jeep!” He was only 23 but he was fierce!
One morning, on our way to see some lions at a watering hole, Amon told us this story:
“I grew up in a tiny township. The nearest school was 10 miles from my home. But I went everyday.”
I asked, “Did you ride a school bus?”
“No, there was no bus,” he answered.
“Well, you didn’t walk all that way, did you?” I asked.
“No, we didn’t walk,” he said.
“Thank goodness, Amon! That’s 20 miles round trip!”
Then, in a very matter of fact tone he added, “No, we didn’t walk. We ran. It was faster.”
Now what does this story have to do with you? Do you run 20 miles a day? Probably not. This story is about you because you have a distance to go in developing stories that will make people remember you and your message.
Now you don’t have as far to go as Amon. He ran thousands of miles to get an education. In fact, he kept running until he became the first person in his township to attend college. Whatever the distance is between where you are now as a storyteller and where you want to be, there are essential tools you need to learn. In the next hour, I will share sure-fire writing and speaking techniques that will take your stories to the next
This is an example of an opening story for a presentation. Notice how I simply started with a question, “How many of you have spent a week with a Zulu warrior?” It’s such an unexpected question it’s almost guaranteed to get your attention. Once I have it, I tell Amon’s story, which is humorous and inspirational. Then, just as you are starting to question what a distance runner in South Africa has to do with you, I tie the story to my topic and off we go!
Are you Using Stories to Open your Presentations?
If you start your presentation with a story, the audience will make a nearly audible sigh that says, “Good, this isn’t going to be boring.” They will sit forward and give you their full attention. True, you must now deliver a great story and have a few others to follow it. But by telling a great story first, you ace the opening because you immediately capture the minds and emotions of your listeners. No other form of communication does this faster or better than a well-told story. So, if you are starting your speech with social niceties or ramping up to your first point, consider using a story instead to quickly bring the audience aboard and prepare them for your message.