How do you begin a presentation? See if this sounds familiar: “Hi. I’m so-and-so. On behalf of my organization, such-and-such, I want to thank so-and-so for asking me here today to talk to you about this-and-that.” (Are you still reading this or did you doze off?
The most captivating presentations have something in common at the beginning of their talks. Dan Pallotta (shown here at Cause Camp 2017) gave a compelling TED Talk in 2013, The Dream We Haven’t Dared to Dream.
Palotta engages the audience from the get-go:
"I was 8 when I watched Neil Armstrong step off the lunar module and onto the surface of the moon. I’d never seen anything like it before. And I’ve never seen anything like it since."
So what’s the secret ingredient?
Author and speech coach Akash Karia pored over 200 of the most popular TED Talks to find what makes them so irresistible and compelling. In his bestselling book, TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks, Karia reveals that the common thread among the most powerful TED Talks is that the speakers are masterful storytellers.
(As of this writing, Karia’s TED Talks Storytelling e-book is available for FREE download on his website. The audiobook is available on Amazon for under $2. You can listen to the whole book in less than an hour!)
Stories are the key to an audience warming up and relating to you. What’s more is stories help to persuade an audience to agree with you, and more importantly, take action. Starting a presentation with a moving or funny story (that’s personal and relates to your topic!), is a winning approach.
Karia suggests that you dive right into a story in your presentation because of 3 reasons.
3 Reasons to Dive Right into a Story in Your Presentation
Starting with a story is different from the way most speakers begin their presentations.
People have come to expect boring opening remarks. The person introducing you should tell the audience who you are and why you are there, so there is no need to say it again. In fact, you don’t even need to thank your audience until the end. The best way to thank your audience is to keep them engaged from the very beginning.
Stories take the audience along on a journey.
Well-told stories are irresistible. They have the power to evoke an instant reaction. Stories grab the hearts of the audience and take them on an adventure that leaves them feeling inspired and motivated to take action. Starting a presentation with a story allows you to begin facilitating the journey immediately.
People are hard-wired to listen to stories.
Since the dawn of man, people have been storytelling. First, stories were told visually, such as cave drawings. Then stories were told orally and passed down from generation to generation. And finally, stories were conveyed through the written word. Studies show that our brains sync up when consuming stories. Through stories, our brains process information most effectively. So, starting off your presentation with a story will not only grab your audience’s attention, it will help keep their brains activated and engaged!