I’m reading a great book at the moment called The Third Wife.
It’s been a while since I’ve found a really good read like this, which led me to think about what makes it so good. What makes a book a page-turner?
There are many parts that work together in any good book to keep you hooked. However, all the parts only work when there is one key element that drives the reader to keep turning pages: Open loops.
Open loops are like unfinished business.
Open loops are those things we start which nag at us consciously and sub-consciously until they are finished and closed-off.
Engaging stories use open loops. The more strategically positioned open loops in a novel, the more likely we are to continue reading the book. If the open loops are relevant and well-placed this unfinished business turns a story into a page-turner.
You can use open loops in your speech to keep your audience on the edge of their seats. Even in your topic is a typically boring business topic, you can use open loops to great effect.
There is a simple formula you can use:
- Key point part 1
- Key point part 2
- Resolve headline
Your headline is an engaging piece of information which will act as an open loop and keep the audience focused throughout your speech.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine we are doing a presentation about a new project management software. Our previous project management software had some bugs and we couldn’t get the software vendor to resolve them. As such we have chosen a new vendor to provide the project management software to us.
Here is sample extract from the speech about the project management software:
“…as you can see from the reports produced, this software be a huge improvement on what we are currently using. Let’s now discuss how to use the software. One important factor with usability is the extra hour you get back every day! We’ll look more at the time savings a little later. The main screen, shown here allows us to select the current project…”
In the above example the bolded sentences show the headline. This headline, wedged into a point about how to use the system, creates an open loop for the audience. They are not going forget this time-saving point and will listen carefully so they can discover how.
The audience will be so aware of your open loop that if you don’t resolve it they will ask you about it in your question and answer session.