Top 10 Tips for Speakers #6 – Using a story to start

open book of family story

In our Top 10 Tip #5, we looked at the use of the Tell Them, Tell Them, Tell Them – where you begin by outlining what your message will be, then delivering that message, and then reminding them of what you said.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to do it as some sort of shopping list.

One of my favourite techniques to start a presentation is to tell a story which makes the point that I am going to make.

For example, a speech on why pop music is so important to me began

It was 1968 – I was 10 years old, and a song came on the car radio as we drove across the city to my Grandmother’s home.

It was a boppy, up tempo country crossover song with driving drums and an insistent rhythm guitar … and then OC Smith began singing.

‘Well, the path was deep and wide from footsteps

leading to our cabin
Above the door there burned a scarlet lamp.
And late at night, a hand would knock,
and there would stand a stranger …
Yes I’m the son of Hickory Hollow’s tramp.’

So why did that song have such an impact on a 10 year old boy that I can still picture that scene 50 years later?

Because I was so ANGRY at the unfairness of it all.

I then gave some more examples, and made the point that pop music isn’t just something that drifts past us – that it has a strong influence on us – and on our society.

And I recently read another example that reverberated with me.

Bob Adams, in a post at suggested that a speaker opposed to a plan to borrow money to fund an expansion project might begin with something like

My mother was fond of clichés and she used them liberally. `A stitch in time saves nine.’ `Moss never grows on a rolling stone.’ `A watched pot never boils.’ She always had a cliché ready to help her family deal with life’s situations. One of Mom’s favorites was `Never a borrower nor a lender be.’ Our organization needs to heed my mother’s advice, ladies and gentlemen. I’m here this morning to tell you that under no circumstances are we in a position to borrow funds to support our campaign.

That’s a great example of “tell them what you are going to say”. It sets the audience up to receive the message, with a homily that they will remember.

You might like to try it sometime. Tell a memorable story that sets the foundation for your argument – and then when the audience remembers that story, they will also remember what you want them to.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at using your nervousness to your advantage, as a speaker

One thought on “Top 10 Tips for Speakers #6 – Using a story to start

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Speakers #10 – Putting it all together | Cairns Communications

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