Your Story’s Great Beginning and Great End
It may sound obvious, but having a great beginning and a great ending to a story is really essential. Leave them wanting more, is how the saying goes.
When you are crafting a story, the middle bit can be a bit of a mixed bag, but if you capture your audience with a smart or witty comment or thought-provoking beginning, then they will be prepared to listen to you. That doesn’t mean ignore crafting the middle part. Not at all, the focus here is to find your story’s great beginning and great end.
You could use the following:
- Music to create a mood, make an entrance, or a statement (think 2001 A Space Odyssey).
- A famous or not so famous quote that inspires or touches the heart or opens the mind to the core meaning of the topic you are presenting.
- A statistic or 2, but don’t reel off statistics. We will start nodding our heads, and might even end up snoring. There’s a way to develop a story around statistics that will make your audience sit up and take notice. Promise.
- Or it could be a personal or a business story.
It’s good to spend time on finding the right beginning, and there might be several beginnings you need to play with to find the right tempo. Then test them out on a few willing listeners. If they love them or one in particular, you are good to go.
What about the landing?
Do you want to leave your audience thinking? Would you like to leave them on a high? How you end is equally crucial. This time it’s about how and where you are going to leave them that will count. You need to ask yourself this question:
What do I want my audience to feel at the end of the Story?
For example, if it’s a sad tale, is there a moral or a ray of hope that will lift people up? In a presentation, it’s highly unlikely you want to leave your audience on a down note. You may want to take them there, so they can experience it. Just make sure you bring them back.
If it’s poignant, can you inject some humour into it, to balance it out? A note of warning though, don’t use humour unless it comes naturally, as it will feel false to you, and to your listeners.
What if it’s a tale that makes people laugh? Is it about entertaining them, or leaving them with a thought to digest? As you can see, there are lots of possibilities to play with. It will depend upon your audience and the context in which the story is being told.
The content of the Story
If you think about the arc of the Story you want to tell, this will guide you into uncovering what kind of beginning and ending it will need. The middle part is the journey. From meeting the challenges, or obstacles, to finding help whether it’s autobiographical, or fantastical, or the repetition of a theme to remind the listeners about theme of the journey.
The Story Arc
When you view your tale from this overview, the journey of the story is the process you want your audience to go on with you. Whatever the conflict has been, the resolution or ending mustn’t be a quick fix. That way the audience will feel cheated.
You want to leave them understanding that the beginning and the middle had a purpose and the ending offers a resolution that is satisfying. Leave them feeling that ‘ahaaa’ moment not the ‘what…?’ moment.
Be prepared to experiment
Experimenting is good, till the magic occurs. Make the story longer, or shorter, with twists, or a story within a story. But as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, know that when you have nailed it – you will feel it. And if you feel it, your audience will too.