Create A Make-Believe Character To Help Tell A Tough Story

30 Aug

Recently, I worked with a speaking coach, Ellen A. Kaye (1), to prepare a talk for Nerd Nite SF. I already wrote about the experience here, but wanted to add one more thing.

One of the best tips I got from Ellen was to create a make-believe character to tell a difficult story. When I talk about HIV treatments I tend to say things like “imagine you are infected with HIV”, which can sound threatening, or “imagine a person who is infected with HIV”, which sounds impersonal. Ellen suggested making my example more specific, yet not threatening to the audience. So I created “John” and said: “Imagine John is infected with HIV.” After introducing John early in my talk I could refer back to John many times during my talk and this made it much easier to explain everything.




(1) Ellen A. Kaye founded Perfect Presentation® Inc, a multi-faceted speaking and coaching firm in 1994, which relocated to Silicon Valley in 2011. Ellen has coached clients for speeches and pitches to a US President, universities, keynote addresses; appearances on: CNN, The View with Barbara Walters, Fox Channel, Ted Koppel’s Nightline, national radio talk shows, IPO & VC pitches, sales presentations, PHD orals, interviews, meetings, civic speeches, and much more. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, Entrepreneurs and startups. After graduating from Stanford University, Ellen was a professionally trained actress in New York City working on stage and TV.


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