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How to Hook Your Audience: In Medias Res

Picture this: You’re on stage, telling a story about the night you became a criminal. You say:

I’m lying in wet grass behind a cow barn. I just vandalized a property. Two angry men are hunting me down. My heart is pounding. I’m thinking, ‘I’m a mom of two. What am I doing here?

Boom! You’ve got your audience hooked. They want to know more. They’re on the edge of their seats.

You’ve also just used a storytelling technique called in medias res.

What is in medias res?

In medias res is Latin for “in the middle of things”. It means starting your story in the middle of the action, instead of at the beginning.

Why use in medias res?

En medias res can make your story more exciting and intriguing. It can spark curiosity and suspense in your audience. It can make them wonder:

  • What’s going on?
  • Who’s the speaker?
  • How did they end up in this situation?

Then, you can go back to the beginning and fill in the gaps.

How to Use In Medias Res

You don’t have to use in medias res for every story. Sometimes, it’s better to start at the beginning and build up to the climax.

But if you want to add some excitement to your story, try starting in the middle. Here are five tips for using in media res effectively:

  • Choose a moment that’s dramatic, surprising, or funny.
  • Make sure it’s relevant to your main point or message.
  • Don’t give away too much information at once. Keep some mystery.
  • Use sensory details to make the scene vivid and realistic.
  • Let your audience know that you’re safe and that everything turned out okay.

Experiment with in medias res and see how it changes your stories. You might find that it makes them more engaging and memorable!

Laura Bergells teaches public speaking and business communication classes and workshops. Hire Laura!

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