How to Tell a Story

Taking a Page From the Ad Industry

November 16, 2008

I recently stumbled upon a Michael Jordan Nike ad that tells a story with a powerful punch line using similar techniques speechwriters use to inspire an audience. Watch the video below (or here). Below the video, I break down the technique.

About the message: Of course, the story here is that persistence and perseverance eventually pays off if you never quit. If you quit after a disastrous first public speaking engagement, you will never succeed.

About the technique: After stating three examples of failures (9,000 missed shots, 300 lost games & missing 26 game-winning shots), the message is accentuated by the pause just before Jordan says: “And that’s why I succeed.”

If a speech with that type of punch line is delivered correctly, the most powerful part of the speech is not actually any part during the speech, but rather the moment after: when the audience is silently sitting there contemplating what they had just heard.

Speechwriters can learn a lot from the ad industry.



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