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Opening with a 'Fascinating Fact' (II)

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One of the best ways to open a presentation and really grab an audience's attention (for 7 great ways to open, see How To Grab 'Em By The Throat) is to pique their interest with a 'fascinating fact' (see Opening With A Startling Statistic Or Fascinating Fact). This article contains 4 great ways to open if your objective is to get people to look at things differently and reject the 'conventional' way of doing something.

1. What is James Bond's favorite drink?

I want to start by asking you a question, which is, 'What is James Bond's favorite drink?' On the screen you'll see four possible answers. It could be a) Whisky b) Sake c) Champagne, or d) Vodka martini. Can I just see, with a show of hands, how many people think it's A? Ok ...... B? C? And now .... D?

It seems the overwhelming favorite is D: a vodka martini, presumably 'shaken not stirred.'

It might surprise you to know that the correct answer is A: whisky ........

Everyone thinks it's a vodka martini, but someone with far too much time on his hands once analyzed all of Ian Fleming's James Bonds books and identified that he has a drink every 7 pages and has 317 in all.

He drinks the famous martini 19 times, has champagne 30 times, sake 35 times, but drinks a bourbon or whisky an amazing NINETY SIX times. In other words, the drinks on the screen are actually in order of preference. The vodka martini is fourth!

And the reason I tell you this is to make a point. Sometimes everyone thinks they know something. They're sure they have the answer. They're convinced they're right (did you notice that example of the rhetorical technique Replication by the way?) ....... And yet they're wrong.

In this company we've always been convinced that we deliver the best customer service in our industry. Well, the results of the latest customer survey have just come out.

And we're wrong ...........

2. How many wives did Henry VIII have?

I want to begin my presentation by asking you something: 'How many wives did Henry VIII have ?' I'll give you a clue. On the screen you'll see four possible answers. It could be a) 2 b) 4 c) 5, or d) 6. Can I just see, with a show of hands, how many people think it's A? Ok ...... B? C? And now .... D?

It seems the overwhelming favorite is D: six, supported by the popular school rhyme, 'divorced beheaded died, divorced, beheaded, survived.'

It might surprise you to know that legally, the correct answer is A: 2

Henry's fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves was annulled on the grounds of non-consummation. An annulment is different from a divorce, it means that legally the marriage never took place at all. And non-consummation is still legal grounds for annulment today. So that leaves 5.

The Pope declared his marriage to Anne Boleyn illegal, because he was already married to Catherine of Aragon, and Henry declared that his marriage to Catherine was illegal on the grounds that a man couldn't sleep with his brother's widow. So that brings it down to 3, regardless of whether you support Henry or the Pope.

He also annulled his fifth marriage to Catherine Howard just before he had her beheaded, at the same time making it treason for a queen to commit adultery.

Which brings it down to only two uncontestable,legal marriages. Jane Seymour, who died of natural causes 2 weeks after giving birth, and Catherine Howard, who survived him.

And the reason I tell you this is to make a point. Sometimes there is more than one way to interpret facts. One person looks at them and draws one conclusion; another person draws a completely different on from the same information.

We've always looked at our dominant market share and concluded it was because our product was superior. Competitor X looked at the same figures, disagreed, and concluded it was because our customers had never really had an easy way to switch suppliers.

Which they remedied with the introduction of XYZ .........

3. Where do most tigers live?

Let me ask you a question: 'Where do most tigers live?'

On the screen you'll see four possible answers. It could be a) China b) Kenya c) USA, or d) India. Can I just see, with a show of hands, how many people think it's A? Ok ...... B? C? And now .... D?

It seems the overwhelming favorite is D: India.

It might surprise you to know that the correct answer is C: the United States.

A hundred years ago there were 40,000 of them in India. Now it's estimated there are between 3 and 5,000.

However, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association estimates that up to 12,000 tigers are kept as private pets in the USA. There are 4,000 in Texas alone - that's about the same as in India - and Mike Tyson personally has four of them.

As an aside, tigers can't abide the smell of alcohol, and will attack anyone who's been drinking, so if you're ever invited to Mike Tyson's house, bear that in mind.

The reason I tell you this is to make a serious point. Beliefs .... are often based on out-of-date information. Companies often formulate strategies based on what used to be true rather than what is true.

We've long known that the products our overseas competitors manufactured were less expensive than ours, but we always thought that didn't matter too much because they were of inferior quality. I have to tell you today ...... that that is no longer the case. With the introduction of the ABC, competitor X now has a product that is less expensive and matches our quality .......

4. What was Cinderella's slipper made of?

I want to start by asking you something, which is, 'What was Cinderella's slipper made of?' Behind me you'll see four possible answers. It could be a) Satin b) Glass c) Fur, or d) Leather. Can I just see, with a show of hands, how many people think it's A? Ok ...... B? C? And now .... D?

It seems the overwhelming favorite is B: Glass.

It might surprise you to know that the correct answer is C: Fur. Squirrel fur, to be precise.

The Frenchman Charles Perrault, who wrote the familiar version of the story in the seventeenth century, confused the phrase vair (squirrel fur) which was commonly used for trimming and lining clothes, with verre (glass). And when you think about it, a slipper of fur makes a lot more sense than one of glass. But the tradition of the glass slipper has been passed down through the centuries, and immortalized by Walt Disney.

Incidentally, Perrault also made a few other changes, introducing the mice, pumpkin and fairy godmother, and toning down the story's bloodthirstiness. In the mediaeval original, the ugly sisters cut off their toes to try and make the slipper fit, and after the Prince marries Cinders, the King takes his revenge on them and the wicked stepmother by forcing them to dance themselves to death wearing red-hot iron boots.

Why do I tell you this? It's to make a serious point. Sometimes everyone thinks they know something. They're sure they have the answer. They're convinced they're right ....... And yet they're wrong.

In this company we've always been convinced that we deliver the best customer service in our industry. It was a fact. Rock solid. Indisputable. Well, the results of the latest customer survey have just come out.

And we're wrong ...........

If you liked this article, read How To Grab 'Em By The Throat and Opening With A Startling Statistic Or Fascinating Fact

 

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