Clinton Swaine, Founder of Frontier Trainings is known as the World Leader in experiential business trainings. He’s spoken on many of the world’s top stages and produced over 200 games and processes which teach business, personal development and speaking skills to countless individuals and organisations.

Clinton is in conversation with Annik, in an obviously windy location, discussing story loops, Game of Thrones and…Marilyn Monroe.

Annik: Hi, it’s Annik from Speaker Express and I’m here – Whoo! my skirt is flowing up!

Clinton: Marilyn. Marilyn Monroe.

Annik: I hope you can’t see that. Exactly. I’m here with Clinton Swaine. He is a speaker trainer and a master in experiential learning and gaming. In 2011, I started doing speaker training with him and really got inspired to do more and to overcome those fears. It was never my intention to actually really start a training business but, if you have someone in your life who constantly holds you to a higher level then that’s really, really important. Now, how did you get into all that?

Clinton: I never intended to be in speaking either. That wasn’t my goal. I was running investments and I was doing some real estate. I started teaching my friends what to do through games. I created my own big game called “The Millionaire’s Market”. As I started running it more and more, I realized I was going to be on stage a lot and if I was going to be on stage, I thought, I might as well be the best I can be on stage.

So, I started learning everything I could about being on stage from other people who are great on stage and kept on going and expanding. Eventually I ran through most of the speakers at the time who are out there teaching it and then I started looking at where else can I go. I started looking at politicians, to military commanders, to rock stars, anyone who is communicating. And I asked myself the question: How do we tap into great communicators and be able to bring that into our stage presence?

Loops are great – as the audience wants to know the end of the story and are ‘hooked’.

Annik: Wow. Well, we did a poll a couple of weeks ago asking our speakers, “What do you want to hear most and what content or material are you interested in?” and what ranked really high was “Business Storytelling”.

I personally love Joanna Martin, as a business storyteller because she uses storytelling loops. Opening a loop at the beginning and then doing like a 2-hour, even a 2-day presentation and then closing the loop at the end and really having your audience at the edge of their seats during that time wanting to hear more, thinking, “Oh my god. How did that story end?”  — Now, what is the technicality behind story loops? How do you do this best and make it effortless?

Clinton: Loops are amazing. I was working with Chris Howard at the time. I was doing training with him on stage and I learned all about the loops. Doing better loops where we open one loop and then have another story, another loop and then another story, have three stories open and like I said, two days laterthree days later, go to wrap it up. These stories really work.

Where at one point I was doing a story about a rollercoaster ride and the simulation of being in a training room. I go to the students to reach up, pull down their harness and at some point, off the rollercoaster went. Couple of times I forgot to actually close the loop and so at the end of the course, all the students left and then I have a number of students come up to me months later going, “Clinton, my life’s been like a rollercoaster.” I’m like, “Oh my god. I forgot to close those loops.” They were that important.

Loops went down great – they hold the audience there. They want to know the end of the story and it worked.

Annik: Actually, before you continue. Maybe some of you might be sitting there at your lunch break, with your jacket potatoes, thinking, “What the hell is a loop and why it’s so powerful?” Maybe can you take a step back on what is it and what makes it so powerful.

Clinton: Sure. Loop is a story broken into two parts where you open the story and you go through a climatic point and then you stop the story like a cliffhanger and you don’t give the answer. As I go through the course, they’re sort of thinking about that story, thinking about that story, often discussing it among themselves about that story and then at the end of the course, you usually just carry on and you finish the story.

For even better loops, you go three loops. One loop, one story goes to another story and another story and then you stop all three stories mid-way so that a big three layer cliff hanger and then you just carry on with content like you’ve never done the story and then you close, close, close. You do it in reverse order. You close it in reverse order and then you finish off the content.

It’s a very powerful way of storytelling to get that sense of – I’m not sure if you’ve many things like Game of Thrones – Right in the very end, there’s that moment where you’re like, “Now, I have to watch the next episode as soon as possible!”

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