“Keep your arms and legs inside the car, stow all loose items, and hold on tight! Enjoy your ride on the Narrative Arc, and we’ll see you on the other side! ”
clickety-clack…clickety-clack…clickety-clack…clickety-CLACK … pause for dramatic effect …
WOOSH – WHAM – BAM – SCREECH
The next 147 seconds fly by as your spine is yanked from the ends of your toes through the tip of your nose. On screwdriver drop number 2, your sunglasses did not defy the laws of gravity like you once believed they would and they catapulted into the ether, never to be seen again. Just when your core begins to catch on and you think you’re clever enough to predict the next drop, the roller coaster car rolls into park back where you started. With a bewildered look in your eye you stumble back to the end of the line – again!
But the second go around isn’t as exhilarating as the first. You know the familiar sound of the loudest CLACK before the first drop. You remember to tuck away your reserve pair of sunglasses. 146 seconds on your watch tick by and you know the time’s about to be up. What’s missing?
It’s the most exciting ingredient of storytelling – suspense!
Take some advice from the amusement park and during a pitch, integrate some suspense into your story to maximize attention. Travel with your client up the narrative arc and, using a variety of tools, create a trail of questions that’ll make them crave the punchline. Do it skillfully enough and that punchline is your product tied up in a neat bow ready to preempt screwdriver drop number 2 – no more fear of the sunglass abyss.
A typical presentation might follow the age-old advice: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. But when you lead with the punchline, you’re giving away the best part! In our experience, we’ve found that those who drop crumbs leading to the funnel cake stand at the end of the roller coaster ride have a much more satisfying payoff than those who try to sell it in the line leading up to the ride. Don’t weigh them down with a stomach full of fried dough before riding the Narrative Arc.