What is a challenging story and why you need one to start your presentation?

I was talking to a client recently who said she couldn’t think of any stories at all. When I pushed her a bit, she came up with a great story about a client who thought he had to do something one way because of his space. That would mean his staff would spend all their time cleaning up, not doing their work. My client started her video with that story.

I first learned about starting presentations with a challenging story from the work of Stephen Denning. His books The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling and The Secret Language of Leadership are both excellent.

A challenging story is a relevant story that has a pain point and is negative in tone.

When you start a presentation, as Steven Denning says, the first thing you need to do is get the audience’s attention. I think the best way to do that is with a challenging story.

The goal of your challenging story is to have the audience lose themselves in your story: feel what you felt, experience what you experience. They may also feel what they felt when they were in a similar situation. This is memorable because it engages the whole brain of your audience members, not just the visual or auditory parts but the emotional parts as well.

To be effective, the story you choose must be relevant to your presentation. Having a gripping story that is completely unrelated will have your audience remembering just the story and not the important information that you are sharing.

I tend to start my presentations with my story of my first presentation, almost 30 years ago, when I was completely terrified and was terrible. That ties into the purpose of my presentation to show that, if I can do it, anyone can share information in a memorable and engaging way. It takes the right tools and practice, practice, practice.

Remember to always start your presentation with a challenging story.  If you want to check out other tips to engage your audience from the start, check out this blog post.

For more help with including stories in your informative or technical presentations, sign up for my free 45-minute AMP Up Session here https://calendly.com/brenda-memorablepresenter/45min-amp_up.