Any article should begin with a story — interesting, funny, or surprising if possible. Not this article, though!
And yet, there is nothing better to start a presentation on the right foot than a story. However, it is not always easy to find the right introduction.
Is there a system allowing us to always find a story to start any presentation?
The idea, the method, and the connector
Sometimes, when you almost finished writing and you are reading your article, you find that the introduction doesn’t inspire curiosity. You want the reader to take-off with you in the direction of your choice and instead, your article sounds like a waiting room.
Here is a system allowing you to always find a story to start your presentation on the right foot:
– find a summary word
– select a story for this word
– connect the introduction to the article
The word summarizing the presentation
To find a summary word for the article, we need to distillate its content and reduce our research successively until a single word (or one expression).
Another easy and quick way to find a word candidate is to decompose the title of the article or presentation.
Take the current article as an example, we have some candidates:
We can choose as a summary word “find”. But any of the other words could have been chosen.
Now we have the essential element and can pass to the next step, selecting a story illustrating this word.
Selecting a story expressing the same idea
Let’s continue using the previously selected word, “find”. The research can include synonyms, tools, or alternative words on the same idea:
find — GPS — search — scanner — research — goal — target
To drive the research the following three story-types can be used:
– historical events and facts
– personal stories
The historical events are incidents, facts, or examples which can be found on the Internet or in Wikipedia. They are usually clear and easy to understand by your audience.
Personal stories are more elaborate but they can add stress for the author. Except if you use a trick: after writing the whole story, change the person from me/us to you. Like this:
I always find it difficult to start my articles. You always find it difficult to start your articles.
This way, you remove the stress you feel when writing down your memories or personal stories. At the same time, this is more effective for the reader, as they can project in the same situation.
Finally, analogies are elegant, as stories coming from a completely different field are surprising by nature. Unfortunately, this can add another difficulty:
Am I doing too much?
Who am I to talk about this topic?
The key consists of our chosen attitude in front of our audience. There is a big difference between feeling like an imposter and having an advanced beginner attitude sharing your understanding of the topic. (The imposter’s syndrome is in itself an analogy expressing the anxiety of starting a new experience).
To give you some examples, let’s take one of the words selected to summarize this article: “target”.
Here are some examples, beginning with a factual story illustrating this word:
Parents wish their children grow big and healthy. However, adult height depends on many factors and some not under the parents’ control. How can we calculate a child’s target height based on their origins and their parental heights?
Week after week, your blog accumulates article after article. Your efforts to explain, to help and to give examples create some interest, but not enough. You try to connect with your target audience but you are not sure to reach it yet.
Obtaining the first Michelin Guide star can have a huge impact on a restaurant. The only female chef granted this reward in 2017, Fanny Rey compared it with a tsunami making her restaurant finally take off. The same way, we need a good introduction to start a presentation and reach our target audience.
Apart from the interest of the story in itself, the critical point is to connect it to the rest of the article to keep the reader’s attention.
Using a connector to link the introduction to the article
Once you find and write the story and the article, you need to work on the last phrase of the story. The key is to change this final part to link it to the article.
A single word can be enough to make this connection. To do this, the easiest is to employ the summary word facile (in the examples above it was the word “target”). A synonym will also do.
Disadvantages of using a story to start your speech
Can you present in front of a sleepy room? Yes, you can! But you may not convince a lot of people. Except if you wake them up at the beginning of your presentation and keep them interested until the end.
this is too sales-y this looks flashy I'm not a marketer
You don’t have to use a story to begin your presentation. But you will have to make much more efforts to keep your audience interested. Instead, you can learn how to find a good story.
Find a story for any topic
Even though that’s not obvious, having doubts is not a bad sign. You can have doubts about your topic, about your angle of presentation, and of course about your introduction story.
On the other hand, once you have a clear leading point of view, you can always find a story to start presenting it. Because the outline helps you find an idea, a summary word for the whole presentation. And this word is your key in searching and finding a story to start your presentation.
Historical facts, personal stories, and analogies are the easiest methods to express this summary word and attract the attention of your audience.
Finally, the key is to properly link the story to the rest of your speech by using a connector at the end of your introduction. This can be the summary word itself, a synonym, or an alternative expression.
Find a story every time, guaranteed
If you wish to be invited to the first session of the “Shoo-in story” program, please fill in this form (6 web conferences starting in December, offer limited to 3 participants per session).