Tell a Story to Begin a Speech
You’ve got to do three things at the start: gain your audience’s attention, build rapport with them, and introduce your topic. I agree with what Susan Trivers says:
Begin your presentation with a message that conveys that you know them and care about them. Tell a well-crafted story that reflects their pain. Pose a question that includes their issue. Let them know immediately and with clarity that you’re in sync with them.
The single best way to connect with an audience that is troubled by their pressing issues is to speak directly to them. No slides or bullet points or formal scripts or introductions. Be real, be caring and be natural.
I tend to begin with a story. A story starts out slowly. (You don’t want to come on at full tilt from the moment you first open your mouth.) And it builds. A story asks for our attention, rather than demanding it. It appeals to the kid in each of us, to our imaginations and emotions, sidestepping our critical minds, without being mindless. And telling a story lets other people know a little bit about us, our experience, character, concerns.
Here’s the catch: make sure that by the end of the story, the spotlight is on your audience, not on you. At the end of your story, as you’re stating its moral or its take-away truth, be sure to use the word “you” or “we,” not “I.”
For more on stories, check out “The Art of Storytelling.”
Do you use stories when you speak? If so, what kind of story do you think works best?