What is it about public speaking that you’d be most likely to search for on the internet? You might be surprised which of my posts gets the most search traffic…
The most popular post on this blog – by far – is the one on awesome opening lines. And almost 60 people have commented on it, too. So it’s definitely a hot topic for public speakers.
But if you go looking for an opening line for your talk, I think you’re taking the wrong approach.
Why do I say that? Well, the combination of your audience and your topic are unique. So, if you search the internet for an opening line, you’re very unlikely to find a good fit for your specific talk.
What should you do, then? You’ll find one great answer in this 3-minute video by Kindra Hall.
“…the 1 simple secret to nailing a presentation in
the first 30 seconds, every time – start with a story”
And she gives you 3 concrete reasons:
- A story makes you human.
- A story calms your nerves.
- A story is “easy”.
Kendra says seeming human is especially handy when you’re in a pitch or sales presentation. That’s because the audience for those types of talks tends to be highly sceptical. So anything you can say or do to lower their defences a bit is a good thing.
What about calming your nerves? Kendra explains that the primitive, danger-dodging part of your brain sees people engage with your story, so it relaxes. The effect is that your conscious brain relaxes too, and your whole talk goes much better as a result.
Thirdly, telling a story’s easy in that it doesn’t involve coming up with new content or ideas – unlike the rest of your talk. So again, that helps you relax, and takes the pressure off you when you’re preparing.
Over to you
Have you ever started a presentation by telling a story? Or have you seen a speaker do that to great effect? Share your experiences in the comments.
- Should you tell a deeply personal story? 3 ways to help you decide, from @KindraMHall [Video]
- Awesome opening lines: 20+ more examples for your speeches, from Patricia Fripp (Certified Speaking Professional)
- Don’t speak on a topic. Speak for an outcome – Secret #12 of star presenters [Video]
- Abandon your agenda! (3 options that beat “Tell them what you’re going to tell them…” when you present)