Narrative Exposition is the use of important background information within a story; for example, information about the setting, characters’ backstories, prior events, and historical context. Without it, speaker’s life story and important business lessons come off like a series of uninspired bullet points instead of creating a compelling lecture meant to hold the attention of an audience and inspire change.
Case in Point
I recently worked a speaker with a naturally great stage presence and incredible story of success. Unfortunately, he was saddled with a terrible script (written by a consultant) which he confidently delivered. After the talk he asked, on a scale of 1 to 10 how he had done, I gave him a solid 4 – explaining there was no joy in his talk. In my opinion, other than hearing his rags to riches story, the audience was left without a clear understanding of how his journey of clearing those obstacles made his life rich – other than making him rich. Because the audience never got to really know the other people in his life, and understand his experiences both good and bad, the speech did nothing for the audience to help motivate them or overcome their fear of failure. It offered the audience nothing in the way of help in refocusing their attention. No suggestions on how to change their mindset, or how to concentrate on the things in life that would help move them forward to achieve their goals.
Not a great first meeting with a potential client. But I’ve never been know to play well with others when it come to the business of public speaking.
He eventually sent me the original script – the one written by a well-known professional business writer. I immediately called him with a revised presentation score of 6, generously adding 2 extra points for the courage and willpower he showed trying to make sense of such a dry, uninspired document.