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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

The Next Steps of Choreographing an Opening

Authored By:

Seth Brown, Agency Trainer and member of the Thinking Collaborative Futures Team


February 14, 2019

Stepping in front of a new audience and presenting content that stands out from some of the sit and get training educators are sometime subjected to can be a nerve racking endeavor. Those first few minutes are critical in establishing your credibility in front of the audience and can either set them at ease or make the rest of the presentation a huge ordeal.

Zoller and Landry (2010) coined a term I used today while coaching a teammate: Choreographing an Opening. Choreographing an Opening refers to the planned verbal and nonverbal moves a presenter makes to proactively acknowledge resistance. Choreographing is especially important when you anticipate resistance from the audience and recognize the need to establish your credibility as a presenter and a rapport with the audience to open their brains to what you are sharing.

Donald Miller’s (2017) Building a StoryBrand offers readers another way to frame that Choreography. Miller suggests that in effective presentations the presenter should not be the hero of the message. Rather, make the audience member the hero, facing a perplexing problem, either an internal, external, or philosophical problem. The presenter, then, can take on the mantle of a guide, like Yoda or Obi-Wan in Star Wars, who has a plan to both address the problem and then offer a call to action leading to success rather than defeat.

Even though the book was written for business people trying to sell a service or product, the concept explains how to impactfully craft an opening that places the focus on the audience member rather than on the presenter, and, as a result, is more likely to engage them during your presentation.


Miller, D. (2017). Building a storybrand: Clarify your message so customers will listen

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