As we already know, stories make for powerful presentations. Great stories can capture the emotion and imagination of an audience. Instead of a straightforward report of the facts, stories allow audiences to connect with a message. Stories allow mundane and impersonal data seem more relatable. A presentation story creates a more personal and engaging audience experience.
Whether you’re in the boardroom or in a meeting with potential clients, here’s a list of what you’ll need to tell the best presentation story:
The heart of the story
In literature, stories are told to reveal broader themes. While you’re not expected to philosophize abstract themes in your presentation, the story you share should also have a purpose. At its core, it should be more than just a story. Your story should be driven by a rationale that is essential to your story. In other words, it should perfectly illustrate the core of your message.
To get there, consider asking yourself these key questions:
- What is the significance of this particular story?
- What is the underlying principle behind your presentation?
- What is the main point you’re trying to get across?
The more you understand the key takeaway, the better you can deliver your presentation story.
The main players
Stories can’t move forward without a central character. The character is responsible for setting the narrative into motion. It is also the character that determines what kind of story will unfold. Most importantly, it’s with the character that the audience connects with emotionally.
It may seem odd to name a protagonist for your presentation story, but even the most mundane stories have its main players. It could be your customer. It could be someone who perfectly represents the demographic you’re targeting. You could even be the character of your own presentation story, especially if you want to talk about an experience that’s central to your key takeaway.
Beginning, middle, end. Whether it’s an epic hero’s journey, or a murder mystery riddled with flashbacks, all stories are anchored by this basic structure. As such, the same should be true for your presentation story.
According to Fast.co‘s Aaron Ordendorff, the problem is that we often start our presentations at the very middle of the story. We don’t take the time to develop the narrative and provide proper context. At the same time, there is also very little discussion of the resolution and what should come next.
To structure your presentation story properly, start with the basics:
- Beginning – While you’re not expected to give every detail of your presentation, you do need to provide the audience with sufficient context to understand your message. Begin your presentation story be introducing your character and the problem they’re facing.
- Middle – Once you’ve provided enough background information, you can begin to detail the purpose of your presentation and how that relates to the conflict your character is facing.
- End – After discussing the bulk of what makes your presentation, end the story by providing a resolution that reinforces your key message
Orendorff, Aaron. “Bring Your Presentations To Life With These 5 Storytelling Components.” Fast Company. September 15, 2014. Accessed October 14, 2014.
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