Here’s a great tip for anybody presenting anything to an audience:
Skip the boring preamble. Many times we feel like we have to do a lot of prefacing, but four minutes goes by quickly. If you spend two minutes on background, you’ve lost an opportunity to grab attention. Far better to leave the identifying bits until the second paragraph, or to the overhead PowerPoint image, or to the person charged with giving the introductions.
Start in the middle. Start at the most interesting point. Choose powerful first words, with immediate interest. Grab your audience quickly. The worst ways to start a presentation (or any story) is “My name is ___ and I’d like to talk to you about…”
That’s from JD Schramm, Stanford business school communications lecturer, in How to Tell Your Story for Impact. The session is also posted on YouTube, Make sure you get to about 27 minutes in, where he starts talking about 7 habits of concise storytelling. That portion, the 7 habits, takes less than 20 minutes.
Yes, there are seven. I put one into this post but I recommend you go through all seven.
I do a lot of writing for the National Speakers Association, and for all the diversity in style and content, the one common thread among the people I’ve interviewed is an emphasis on the power of storytelling. It has a resonance with the audience that you can’t get through slides, facts or figures.
And for my money, the single worst thing to start out a presentation is talking about being nervous or not a good speaker! I highly recommend Toastmasters for anyone who wants to hone their speaking skills and become a better storyteller.
[…] business plan competition). I will share this with my undergraduate entrepreneurship students. From Berry: Start in the middle. Start at the most interesting point. Choose powerful first words, with […]
Great post and thanks for the video. Will be sharing it with my undergraduate entrepreneurship students. They just performed their first practice pitches on Monday evening. Not too bad for first try, big diversity in group at this early stage.