Operation Fortitude And Other Stories

By Electric Pen


What’s the most effective presentation you’ve ever seen? Take your time. While you search for an answer, I will share one of mine: the presentation was given at a global partner conference organized by an Electric Pen technology client. Many presenters snag on the tripwire of overly relying on facts, figures and other mind-numbing details. Not our hero!

The company’s VP took an alternate route up the mountain. . He spent much of his time telling the compelling tale of Operation Fortitude, the codename for perhaps the most successful military deception in World War II. It diverted Axis attention away from Normandy where the Allied invasion of Europe took place on D-day, June 6, 1944. The VP’s presentation included descriptions of the fake tank noises used by the Allies as well as photographs of fake armies created by the Allies to fool the enemy. Not only that he started his talk with a realistic mask on and pulled it off at a key moment to make a point. I was definitely at attention!

Having grabbed the audience’s attention with the story, the VP then linked it to his company. The Allies’ efforts were designed to mislead the enemy. Similarly, the company’s web security tools deploy deception to make hacking costly, time consuming and tedious.

We all love stories, which is why opening a speech with one can be an effective way to capture an audience’s attention. Imagine any of the Star Wars movies without the opening scroll setting the stage for the story. Don’t forget that the story, of course, must be interesting and relevant to your topic. Notice how I opened this blog piece with a story illustrating the value of stories.

Some other ways to begin a presentation include asking a question (maybe even asking for a show of hands), reciting a pertinent quote or telling a joke (provided it’s tasteful and relevant). I prefer stories, but whatever device you use, it must, like the story of Operation Fortitude, capture the audience’s attention and make them want to hear more from you.