- Start with something you know your audience understands. For speeches, that means starting your story with a reference that will mean something to the group you're addressing. Enviros will know about the Endangered Species Act; patient advocates might not, for example.
- Set up a conflict quickly. Stories with conflict draw in kids and audiences, too.
- Stock the story with obvious heroes and villains. In a speech, setting up heroes and villains not only entertains, it also helps to win the audience over to your point of view.
- Don't forget the sticking point. If you're using the speech to make an argument, you need one telling fact or detail that will resonate with the audience, and stick with them. "This research will help 100 million Americans struggling with incurable medical conditions...."Invasive species are destroying a million acres of our national wildlife refuges every year".... Etc.
- A happy ending: You always have one for your kids, of course. It's a little trickier in a call-to-action speech. You want the audience to believe there CAN be a happy ending, but only if they do what you want them to do: lobby for more money for national parks, support a certain kind of cancer research, or even vote for a candidate.
Monday, October 22, 2007
How do you tell a story? That's especially important for speakers -- whether you're at a cocktail party, in a meeting, or in front of an auditorium full of listeners. If you're a parent, says speechwriter Jeff Porro, you've already got the technique down. We've asked Jeff to contribute to our "speechwriter secrets" feature, a periodic look at how to improve your public speaking with tips from those who write speeches for the best speakers. Here's his take on storytelling: