Presentation Tip: Turn your story into an Indiana Jones movie
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
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By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant
Here’s the formula: Once the action starts, Indiana Jones goes from one heart-thumping, hold-your-breath-because-he’s-about-to-die episode to another. And as soon as he narrowly escapes the danger he’s in and you think you can relax and take a deep breath, you’re pulled into the next he’s-done-for-sure-this-time action. And it keeps your attention right up to the closing credits.
In the Indiana Jones movies, the action revolves around Indiana Jones, his female lead or someone else he cares about being in immediate, seemingly insurmountable danger.
I’m not suggesting you put your audience in jeopardy — real or imagined. But you do want to find ways to re-engage their interest and their emotions at regular intervals.
Here’s how John Medina puts it in his book Brain Rules (with a few side notes from me):
- “Our brains don’t pay attention to boring things.” (And your audience won’t pay attention to you if you’re boring.)
- “The more attention the brain pays to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded — and retained.” (Want us to remember what you’re saying? If all you’re using is your voice and you’re droning on and on and on, our butts may still be in our seats but our minds will be somewhere else.)
- “Novel stimuli — the unusual, unpredictable, or distinctive — are powerful ways to harness attention.” (All that predictable stuff you’re tempted to say? It’s probably boring. For the problem with that, check out the first bullet point.)
- “The brain remembers the emotional components of an experience better than any other aspect.” (A well-constructed, purely logical argument may be difficult to rebut. But it’s also hard to remember.)
- “The most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots. Lots of force-feeding, very little digestion. This does nothing for the nourishment of the listeners.”
- “Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.” (Find a way to re-engage your audience every 10 minutes. Good anecdotes and examples are two ways to do that.)
Think of your story as a roller coaster. It starts with a tension-filled climb to that first big adrenaline rush as you plummet down the first big drop-off. A good opening is like that . Grabs you right from the beginning. That first drop sends your stomach up toward your forehead, grabs your attention and gets your heart rate up. But if that’s all there is, it’ll be a pretty boring ride from there. See bullet one for the problem with that. That great opening you have? Super. But if it’s all you’ve got to grab our attention, you’ll lose us long before you’re done talking. Have fun. And help your audience fun. Because if they’re having fun, they’ll pay attention. And remember.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.
Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 10:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.