Use cliffhangers

It’s like showing the murder at start of film: the rest of the film is about HOW did it happen?

Of course, your “cliffhanger” needn’t be as sensational as the ones in the movies. Whatever you foreshadow, and promise to come back to, will stick in the mind of your audience.

Speakers can have such a lot of fun with what playwrights call the ‘Choreography of knowledge’.

Think what questions your audience will be asking at every moment.

It’s the basic soap opera sequence. And the same neuroscience applies to the short-term memory of waiters, apparently.

Success is boring

Not boring to you, obviously. But it’s probably not very interesting to other people.

Without a struggle, there’s no story: “There was a girl called Cinderella who married a prince”.

So what?

Show the struggle. Only then will we be pleased to hear that you succeeded.

Enjoy creating empathy. People pay a lot to enjoy movies, and get sweaty palms as Tom Cruise risks his life.

Torture the hero. Even Jane Austen does this. A victim is a man in a hole. A hero is a man in a hole, trying to get out.

The hero can be you, a colleague/friend, or even a competitor/enemy.

Keep torturing the hero till you get to the very end.

Fight the monster. It feels risky to show vulnerable moments. But if it’s not scary, the hero isn’t being brave.

Something bigger than you

A man stopped some builders at work on a cathedral, and asked what they were doing.

  1. I’m moving bits of stone because my boss told me to
  2. I’m moving bits of stone to get paid so I can feed my family
  3. I’m building a great cathedral that won’t be finished until long after I die

People devoted to something big tend to avoid getting wrapped up in themselves.

Don’t get wrapped up in yourself. It will show.

Think about the bigger purpose of the story you have to tell.

How to get attention?

Magazine writer
Watching readers turn the page. They don’t even read the first paragraph. This can be very demoralising. It taught me to write stories that grab the reader from the start. And don’t let them go!

Lose the audience
People are easily bored. And those people – they’re us. Trained improvisers lost our audience in 15 seconds (average). Some were gone in five! William kept people watching by showing a relationship, a) to his teddy bear, and b) to the TV

Storytelling problem: how to catch people’s interest? Nobody wants to think about pensions. We interviewed young people about their dreams. And asked what they were doing to make them come true – incl making and saving money they plan to spend