Thursday, November 20, 2008

Advice to storytellers - avoid penguins

The best presenters are often good storytellers. There's nothing that people like better than a good yarn well told, provided it has some relevance to them. Think carefully about how you can use stories to illustrate a point, or demonstrate a technique. If possible, find an image that goes with the story to provide some visual interest.

When you are deciding what stories to tell, you might try following my storytelling rules.

1. Tell your own stories
2. Don't tell other people's stories
3. See rule 1

OK, it may be just about acceptable to tell one second-hand yarn in your speech. If you do, make sure that you make it clear whose story it is, where you heard it, and who told you. And then think if you have a better story. I bet you do, if you think hard enough.

And don't overdo the images to illustrate your story. I once attended a presentation by a well-known adventurer. He illustrated his talk with pictures of his latest trek though the snowy wastes around the South Pole. As about the thirtieth slide hit the screen, there was a groan from the back of the room, and a voice called out "Not another bloody penguin".

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