Painting with words

She looked into my eyes, begging, imploring me. She had walked in obviously frightened. She was desperate. We both knew the only question she was wanted me to answer: it had all been building up to this, unspoken and yet explicit. “No.” I said, confidently and clearly. She looked into my eyes, into my soul even, begging me. “No? No?” A single tear rolled down her face and she hugged herself. “Thank you.”

A few months later, another face and another emotion. “What do you mean?” he growled. “All this time, this desperation, this fear, for nothing? Are you serious? How can you just say that?” I shrugged, sadly, “I know, I understand. Really I do. I’m sorry. It isn’t. I wish I could have told you earlier to save you from this.” He simply stood up and walked out.
And so they come and so they go. Full of emotion, sometimes more than I can cope with. Every one seeking the answer to the same dread question. There are so many more of them than there should be but it is beyond me to stop this. I’m just here for them when the truth is told. And what is that truth? The truth is our audit of 47 cases on the two week wait referral pathway for suspected cancer found not one single patient had cancer. All cancers diagnosed in the same time period were referred by other routes.
It really DOES matter how you tell a story in a presentation. 


  1. Cian Brendan McDermott

    Great example of 2 different stories used to make a point. Presume this is a STAR moment. Needless to say, I prepping a talk again by reading back thru your archives 🙂

    1. ffolliet (Post author)

      Thank you. A STAR moment? Yes, I think it would be. We remember stories when they generate emotion. An emotionless delivery of the facts of the audit would probably be less memorable. The literary approach of telling a story adds to the impact, is appropriate for the topic and makes it memorable; something they (will) always remember.

  2. Neel

    Very good. It changes the way people present cases as part of their presentations. This has become stale…. “patient Came in with this set of obs and blood results…” the difficult though is when you are presenting in a topic you may not be passionate about… eg hyponatraemia

    1. ffolliet (Post author)

      The reality though is, if you’re not passionate, don’t present. The challenge is to consider the topic, the audience needs and with an Elevator Pitch, develop that passion, or interest or challenge or controversy. If you don’t care, you’re audience definitely won’t.


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