The natural trajectory of the human species is monotony. Need proof? Just look at any old person’s daily routine. It starts with the daily pill organizer, hits full speed at oatmeal and Metamucil, and usually ends with a dose of Wheel of Fortune and a recliner nap before a 4 pm dinner.
We start life out spontaneous and imaginative and over the course of 70-80 years acquire habits as rigid as concrete walls. There’s a reason for this—daredevils die and those without schedules rarely accomplish much—but we should be aware of the inﬂuence of our inclinations for comfort on our ability to communicate effectively.
Not being boring is a daily pursuit. And really, by boring we don’t mean uninteresting. We just mean tired. Same old, same old. The usual.
An engaging narrative is the cornerstone of a great presentation. Here are 5 steps to bringing vibrance into your upcoming deck:
1. Experience more: Make a conscious effort to expose yourself to more stories and perspectives. Swap the morning radio for an audio book of a great adventure story or bio. Build book time into your daily schedule—and not just self-help and business books! Search for those stories that just reel you in; you’ll gain a knack for how they work that will be invaluable when you sit down to draft an introductory story for your deck.
2. Embrace friction: Commit to reading or listening to one news source that leans opposite your views. The best narratives jar our preconceived notions and expectations, and you just can’t do that if you only understand one side of the proverbial coin.
3. Honor thy bucket list: Active, engaging, open and adventurous minds tend to inspire the same in others. If you don’t have a list of must-dos that you’re constantly striving to experience, you’re just settling into ordinary. People who do lots of new things tend to have more energy, and that will transfer to your audience when you speak.
4. Appeal to authority: There’s no greater authority than the (believable) testimonial. For any idea imaginable, ﬁnding that past example that illustrates the concept achieves two goals: one, you tell the story as an engaging narrative, and two, the testimonial underscores the merit of your idea.
5. Be funny: Piece of cake, right? But really, there’s nothing more pleasant for an audience member than the surprise of laughter. And what makes us laugh more consistently than anything else? Stories we can relate to of things gone wrong— they’re called war stories, and they’re one rhetorical device we never get tired of.
Think of it this way: you don’t have to be a dynamic speaker; you just have to be a dynamic curator. Engaging narratives are all around you. Keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you, and all you have to do is assemble the pieces to ﬁnish the story.
Question: What practical steps do you take daily to expose yourself to new stories and ideas?
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