Think of your speech like Mount Everest.
It starts at the bottom, builds as you go higher, then ends up at the peak. When you present your challenge or conflict to your crowd, it does them a disservice if you just let them off easy by solving the problem too quickly in your speech.
Think about a great movie. The directors ensure that you FEEL the conflicts of the characters involved. They want you to be a part of their pain, so that you feel invested in their solution. They build up to the top of the mountain, and ONLY when you can't take it anymore, they release you by giving you the panacea to the pain.
Do the same in your stories.
Use this 3 step process to ensure that your audience members are invested in your suffering, so that they then crave YOUR solution.
STEP #1: The Introduction
Imagine being in a movie theatre. You sit down, the trailers for upcoming movies play, the title for your movie flashes across the screen, then....BAM! You see a man running desperately. He is running away from something, but what it is, you cannot see. You can't take your eyes off of the screen, because you want to know what he is running away from. When the scene finally ends, you get a temporary moment to breathe as the rest of the opening credits flash across the screen. You are hooked to watch further.
When you speak, you need to create the “Hollywood Hook”: Get your audience invested by introducing your problem as soon as you can during your story.
STEP #2: The Intensification
The 3 Little Pigs is one of my favourite children's stories. The Big Bad Wolf blows down the house of straw, the house of sticks, then is stopped by the house of stones. The reason the story works so well is because of the intensification of the problem. The wolf builds up to the house of stone, and we are left wondering if the last pig will survive. Of course, he does due to his master house worksmanship (and a pot of boiling water at the bottom of the chimney!). However, the reason the story has such an effect, is because the pig vs wolf conflict is built up during the story.
Do the SAME in your stories. Can you make the problem that you experience something that builds in nature? Does time pass without you dealing with your issues? Did your mindset block you from solving it? What can YOU do to intensify your pain?
STEP #3: The Implosion
The top of the mountain has the best view. The “top” of your “Hell Hill” is where you finally said, “Enough is Enough!” and you decided to make a change. The Implosion is important, because you want the audience to understand that you were at your wit's end, and needed a change, DESPERATELY. This desperation, when felt by your audience through YOUR delivery, will make them crave your cure, or answer to the problem.
Speaking IS an Art, and one that can be learned. It is important to speak from the heart, yet there are tools that can make that “heart story” even more engaging.
Don't cheat your audience out of their “Hollywood Moment”. Show them your Pain, make it really hurt through Intensification, then bring it to the top of the mountain with the Implosion. Then, give them the solution.
That is how you Play to the Peak.
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.