⏳ The Hourglass Technique: Unleash the true potential of your stories

And watch your audience hang off every word.

Have you ever felt like something is missing from your stories but you can’t put your finger on what it is? There’s a very good chance that what’s missing is known as the hourglass technique ⏳.

At the height of your story, grind everything to a halt.

And watch your audience hang off every word.

Stories never land when they are rushed.

And I get it, telling a story in a presentation can feel awkward, especially when you don’t want to waste our audience’s time. But the single most effective way to ensure your message lands is with a story.

They are like a trojan horse for our ideas.

So when you’re clear on your message, the question to answer next is…

What story can I share to bring this message to life?

And upon finding the right story, you then have a responsibility to do it justice.

The best storytellers use the hourglass technique to create a sense of anticipation or tension. I can think of no better example than this 80-second clip of Christopher Walken…

Here’s how it works:

The hourglass technique is about slowing down the speed of your story to create a dramatic climax.

How? By…

  1. Using shorter sentences 📏

  2. Getting more descriptive 🎨

  3. Making your audience wait 🛑 

What makes this particular example so effective is that CW’s delivery changes too. By the end, he's barely whispering and he almost grinds his pace down to a halt.

Then, at the story's climax, he does the exact opposite with a long piercing sentence, delivered with both speed and energy.

The hourglass technique is a reminder that we storytellers, have the power to change the speed of time. We can slow it down, we can speed it up and we can even make it…


The next time you want to create a real wow factor with your story, give it a try!

Whenever you're ready, here are some ways I can help:

  1. Got a high-stakes presentation coming up at work? Raise your game with a copy of Make It Count 📘.

  2. Ready to become a sought-after speaker? Become a member of MicDrop 🎤.

  3. Looking to upgrade your team’s presentation skills? Book a call ☎️.

  4. Get paid to speak? Take part in the MicDrop Open Speaker Fee Project and find out whether you’re charging what you’re really worth.

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