osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

"He is using an old bardic mind trick"

Today is a splendid illustration of application of bardic skill in my day job.

This was dog-n-pony show day for major funder. Presenting amid 25 other orgs in tightly controlled setting. Time limit, 2 minutes. Thing to present -- lots of statistics that measure accomplishment.

Oh yes, I heard in advance that Chief Mugwug is easily bored. As I was about #20 of 25, Chief Mugwug was snoozing pretty good by the time I got my innings.

Closed at exactly 2 minutes. Woke Chief Mugwug at first 15 seconds. Triggered what I call the "involuntary applause" reflex in the audience. (Our community does not do applause after every presentation. You hold it 'til the end and applaud everyone. But I often hit the "involuntary applause" reflex. When I finish, folks start applauding, then pause as they realize 'hey, I'm applauding, how did THAT happen?' Then they finish applauding anyway.)

The trick is storytelling technique. a) Tell a story (in this case, how we achieved a particular outcome); b) plot your story and use the data as dramatic illustration/plot points; c) "the rule of threes" and alliteration; d) build tension and close with big finish; and e) Your voice has ending chords.

The last is a little trick I notice that even good public speakers don't seem to get. Most audiences are trained from childhood to respond to a particular sequence of tones as "ending chords" for a performance. Usually this is accompanied by a series of trigger words (such as "thank you" or "the end"), but the beauty of conditioned reflex is you don't need to use the trigger words. Just imagine the tones and cadences of "and they lived happily ever after" and use those in your closing statement no matter what it is. If you have them in "story mode" they will respond reflexively by clapping.

Sometimes it's good being Uncle Yaakov in the land of the Policy Wonks.

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