Storytelling secrets from a globally experienced Speaker & Mad Men

Storytelling secrets from a globally experienced Speaker & Mad Men

By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder of Geoff De Weaver Inc., Touchpoint Entertainment Inc., or connect with me on Twitter:


I started my International Advertising Agency career in 1985 at DDB Needham (NOW called DDB Worldwide) and have had many global clients including: Coca Cola, IBM, IMG, P&G, Microsoft, Nike, E*Trade, Nestle, Air France, AT&T, VISA, Unilever,, Ferrari, Acer Computers, BMW, ABC, The Walt Disney Co, Nike, Weight Watchers,, TiVo and more.

I have had the opportunity to craft stories and marketing campaigns for decades for some of the biggest and most successful companies on the planet. And, I’ve been privileged to watch and learn from some of the greatest speakers and bosses in the marketing, sporting and entertainment world.

In this short, succinct article, I will share the methods I have used to captivate and entertain my clients or audiences while presenting and convincing audiences with a new point of view on a topic. I hope this article will also assist you in using new ideas, developing new skills and improving your current skills.

But, before I start to share some of these concepts with you, I would like to highlight a couple of important points about effective communications. It needs to be seen as an exchange of ideas, energy, actions with understanding and purpose.

But first have a look at these numbers as I think they’ll surprise you:

70% – 75% of your presentation starts with your PRESENCE and how you physically DELIVER your speech/presentation

23% is in the ‘tone’ you use

BUT, Just 7% are the words you use

BOTTOM-LINE – the most important element of storytelling and presenting is your physical presence and how confidently you tell your story. Basically, your own emotions, power, nonverbal behavior are the key to achieving the greatest success.

In fact, I am a huge fan of Amy Cuddy, who is best known around the world for her 2012 TED Talk, which is the second-most viewed talk in TED’s history. (Amy Cuddy is a Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist.)

Amy nailed it with her TED talk and book entitled ‘PRESENCE’ by focusing on the power of nonverbal behavior. She states, “…the delicate balance of trustworthiness and strength, and the ways in which people can affect their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.” This is critical in all presentations and powerful speaking.

Watch Amy Cuddy show how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on your chances for success.

URL: Your body language shapes who you are | Amy Cuddy via @YouTube

Additionally, here are some other thoughts on the keys to making successful and inspiring presentations, talks and storytelling:

  1. Know your subject, back to front (being expert and having runs on the board delivers credibility)
  2. Don’t use statistics deceptively (no bogus pie-charts)
  3. Avoid generalizations that can’t be supported
  4. Know the sources of all material you present
  5. Use clear and direct language
  6. Be highly imaginative but don’t use words or data deceptively.

The starting point for every presentation, TED X speech or client meeting, starts by knowing exactly what you want your audience to do, respond to or next action required. If you don’t have an end game or direction moving forward, your audience never will either.

Always – go slowly, don’t rush through, speak way to fast or read blatantly from your slides or PowerPoint. You want to leave your audience on an emotional high not wondering what you were talking about.

Giving a speech or talk is just like starting a ‘road-trip’. You just don’t hop in a car and drive hours without a destination or address in mind – and it’s exactly the same for making an impact or passionate speech. Always head towards a point or idea and remember to let your audience know where you want to end up. Build that anticipation in your story! Inspire them and make sure your ideas and message sinks in.

Here is the basic key framework I use today:

  1. Craft Your Opening Remarks:
  • I generally acknowledge the audience, advise leave behinds, etc.
  • Use a strong and dynamic quote
  • Ask the audience a question
  • Give a highly relevant quote, etc.
  1. Provide a Creative opening or bridge
  • I often get the audience to do something, refer to a current event, use a strong quote, ask the audience a question, etc.
  1. Know Your Subject – make a presentation that takes your audience along a journey, that’s relatable and always remember people are hardwired over centuries to listen to powerful stories.
  1. Have an Agenda – usually limited to three (3) areas to keep concise) Examples might be:
  • Problem / Options/ Solutions                                       
  • Objectives /Strategy / Planning Steps                      
  • Purpose /Program / Implementation                     
  • Description / Factors / Recommendations                                                  
  • Needs Analysis / Product Service / Features+ Benefits
  1. Body of Content – again, usually limited to three parts with mini conclusions (as above)
  1. Summary – three brief summaries based on your Agenda and Content
  1. Conclusion – I usually have closing remarks for the presentation, story or meeting by either summarizing what took place, acknowledging the meeting has concluded successfully or even thanking all the participants for their time and attention and/or any particular contribution that they’ve made.

Here are some Tips for an Impromptu Talk or unexpected meeting or situation that can pop up from time to time or on a daily basis. 

One piece of advise I learned early in my Advertising Career which has always helped me organize my thoughts and responses – while meeting the challenge of the impromptu situation is to simply remember the key the TELL ‘EM OUTLINE’. Here’s how it works:

The ‘TELL ‘EM OUTLINE’ is simple. You only need to remember these 3 points:

  1. Tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em
  2. Tell ‘em
  3. Tell ‘em what you Told ‘em

I promise you, that if someone asks you a question like: “How is the program coming along’ or even “Tell me about the project’ for example. A hastily improvised answer can always have a thoughtful and meaningful, easy-to-follow response 100% of the time.

Remember, ‘People don’t remember what you say as much but they remember what they see when you say it.’ Importantly, that means speeches or presentations must help your audience to have ‘an experience’, feel your presence and create a visual image.

I look at every time I present and talk as I would at a giant dinner table with all of my close friends attending. Importantly, practice is critical in delivering a passionate, sincere and thoughtful message to your audience.

On a personal basis, I have always thought the most magical and believable presentations are presented passionately, with confidence and belief in the idea, product or concept you are presenting. People will ‘share’ this with you if you do!

Finally, invite your audience, clients or group to be part of your message, not just people that consume it. Involve them early and throughout. Always be engaging, fun and passionate. Importantly try to speak about things you really care about – and your passion will truly shine through!

Good luck with your next talk and, remember to avoid hefty, robotic, PowerPoint’s at all costs. In fact, ENJOY YOUR TALKS + PRESENTATIONS, if you are enjoying yourself and having fun, you’ll inspire even more people!

Win the day! Live with passion.


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