More on how to soar in 60 seconds
woman soaringThanks to your response to July’s post, we are happy to bring you Part 2 of “How to Soar in Sixty Seconds” with more tips for making your presentations come alive in the very first minute.

Last month, we introduced you to the Wrapper. The Wrapper literally wraps around your presentation, giving it a softer, smoother, more accessible opening and closing. It eases your audience into the theme of your presentation before you get to the hard content and, as we told you last month, it often relaxes the speaker and gets shaky speakers through that first minute of nervousness.

What makes a good Wrapper? Whether you choose to start with a story, a quote from a famous person, something from the day’s headlines or an interesting fact, the Wrapper must (1) relate to your main topic; (2) be specific and memorable; and (3) be well-delivered.

Let’s focus on the opening anecdote. An anecdote is simply a story. While we may not be used to applying storytelling techniques at work, we all remember our childhood excitement when we heard: “Once upon a time…” When you use storytelling well at work, you can generate that same level of interest and excitement.

Here are some tips:
laughing audience1. Tell it like a story! Good stories have a beginning, middle and end. (For some sample opening lines, click here.) Somewhere in the middle there’s usually a heroic struggle. In business, your “fire-breathing dragon” might be a market upset, lost customer, strong competitor, or other challenge. How did your workplace knights overcome the challenge? How did your story turn out? People will stay engaged because they’ll want to hear the ending.

2. Include the details, especially sensory details. Describe the room or building, including colors or scents. Recall details of the weather, or food, or air turbulence. Share how people felt, or what they said. Specifics engage our imaginations.

3. Connect the anecdote to you and to your message. Test yourself by pretending someone asks you “Why did you tell us that story?” I’ve seen really good stories fall flat because the speaker assumes the listener can make the connection on their own. Nope! That’s the speaker’s responsibility. Practice your story out loud including the transition to your main message.

The purpose of the Wrapper is to to engage in the first minute. How will you know it’s working? Be sure to watch your audience as you tell your story. Look at their faces. Listen to their laughs or murmurs…or their silently rapt attention. You’ll know.