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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.


Chronology Isn't Important

In my courses we work a lot on storytelling. We do this because there’s a greater impact on an audience when they accept a point and frame it into a well-told story. There are many neurological reasons why this happens, but for the purpose of this chapter, suffice it to say that a powerful way to make your point and to have an impact is through your stories.

The most common approach I see in my courses is for a speaker to provide an entire history of the situation, to establish the characters and events before they actually get to the meat of the story.

When you’re planning your talk and you’re including a story (and I recommend that you do), give some thought to where the story actually begins, and bring the audience to that point right away.

Ask yourself, “When did it happen?” This will help you zero in on the best starting point for your story. Then, flesh in the important details from the event as they’re required to round out the story.

Oftentimes, my students will tell me they have information to give that isn’t part of the story, but is important to the story, and they think the audience needs to be given all of this information in chronological order. The important thing to remember is that when telling the story, chronology isn’t always important. Get right to the point and fill in the blanks as needed.

So far, I’ve told you at least ten different stories in this book, and if you re-read them, you’ll notice that each one begins by stating a year or timeline. Each one answers the question “When did it happen?” This isn’t the only correct way to tell a story, but it’s an effective way that works. And it makes the story easier to tell.

So, what’s the lesson? When telling a story in your presentation, get right to the point of the story. Chronology doesn’t matter.

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