When you first begin your presentation, telling a story about yourself and your connection to the topic is a good way to inject warmth and personality into your presentation. What you tell your audience about yourself and your topic does not have to be important or deep. You are the star of this show, and even unimportant information if it is specific becomes interesting. Even a professional presentation will be enriched with an opening story that relates to the topic of your talk.
Before we plunge into creating a story that will kick off a professional presentation, let’s practice by writing a short entertaining personal anecdote (approximately 200 words) about yourself or someone you know.
- Be as specific as possible. If you are naming a college, or a restaurant, or a dish, or an animal, or a person, identify whoever or whatever you are talking about with a name, like my school Columbia, my car BMW, my wife Joan. Never present a general title or phrase.
- Leave your story for a few hours or until the next day and then return for some editing. Do this as many times as you need to until you are happy with your creation. Now you are ready for a performance.
- In preparing to read your story out loud, be sure that you have privacy. No TV, no phone, no texting so that you can really concentrate. Sit in a chair and do 20 slow ‘belly-breaths’ described in Lesson 1, then stand up and walk to the front of the room, turn around, face your chair, squeeze your toes three times and read what you have written out loud.
- Walk back to your chair, sit down and rest for 5 minutes.
- Then stand up and read the same way again.
- Walk back to your seat and rest for 5 minutes.
- Finally, stand up, walk to the front of the room, turn around and face your imaginary audience and try to tell your anecdote without reading from the page.
Practice this rehearsal, beginning with diaphragmatic breathing then reading from your script in your chair twice and then speaking without a script on your feet two times a day for five days before the presentation. If you have a very understanding, non-critical friend, wife, husband or person who is supportive and will not criticize you, try to present it to them.