Picked this great article up from Douglas Kruger. There’s some good stuff here.
Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker, presentation-skills trainer, and 5 x winner of the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking. He is the author of three books, including 50 Ways to Become a Better Speaker. See him in action, or review his books and articles, at: www.douglaskruger.co.za, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on facebook or Twitter: @DouglasKruger.
The 5 Rapid-Fire Facts Technique for Speakers
Stories are the stuff of persuasion. Experienced communicators hoard good ones like gems. Carefully crafted, they can engage interest, illustrate ideas and elevate important points. They are the nutrition that makes a presentation worth absorbing.
If you already use the unique power of stories in your speeches, here is a simple device that you can add to your storytelling technique, to make those once-upon-a-time moments even more engaging.
5 Rapid-Fire Facts:
During your preparation phase, research and memorise 5 quick facts for the opening of your story. Then, when you stand before your audience, begin the story by delivering those facts in an off-hand, rapid-fire way; as though you are simply tossing out a few, arbitrary nuggets of gold. Then proceed into the body of your story.
This technique achieves a number of things:
• It creates the illusion that you are an expert on that particular topic; a passionately gesticulating encyclopaedia; thus enhancing your perceived credibility
• It changes the rhythm of your delivery, speeding you up for a moment, in order to add contrast to your pace
• It helps from a structural perspective. Because you deliver your 5 facts in a rapid-fire fashion, you set the scene for your story incredibly quickly and avoid rambling.
In one of my motivational presentations, How to Position Yourself as an Industry Expert, I use the story of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster to illustrate a point about communication errors. The story had always worked well in delivery, but when I introduced the 5 Rapid-Fire Facts technique in the introduction, it raised the bar dramatically. …And all it took was two minutes of online research.
The facts that I used were:
• The shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight
• It disintegrated over the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of Florida
• The disaster was blamed on a faulty O-ring
• 7 people lost their lives; 5 men and two women
• While analyzing the wreckage, they discovered that certain switches had been moved from their launch position. The switches were protected with locks and had to have been unlocked by the crew. This proves they were fighting to restore power to their section of the craft, even after the break-up; struggling to save their own lives.
These quick facts (the last one highly emotive), set the scene very swiftly. They create the impression of a great depth of knowledge. Memorising them was easy and delivering all 5 of them requires less than a minute; 60 seconds invested in enhancing the perception of my expertise. Then I progressed to my central point.
It works for characters too
I use this technique when introducing characters as well. To illustrate a point about personal discipline, I refer to the average writing day of bestselling author Stephen King. To introduce him, I throw out these 5 rapid-fire facts:
• Stephen King is 65 years old
• He has written and published over 50 novels
• He lives in Bangor, Maine
• Every one of his novels has topped the New York Times bestseller list
• If you enjoyed the original movie version of It, starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, you’ll be happy to learn that there are plans underway to re-make it!
…Then I proceed to make my point, describing Stephen King’s working week, in order to illustrate my idea about personal discipline. The effect is that I appear to be an expert on this particular personality.
The next time you use a story to illustrate a point, or allude to a key person, try opening that segment with the 5 Rapid-Fire Facts technique. Learn your 5 facts so well that you can rattle them off verbatim. Then, don’t be surprised when they accuse you of having an amazing body of general knowledge!
Jacques de Villiers is a lapsed motivational speaker who tries to learn something new every day. This article was my one new thing today.