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The Importance of Storytelling in Presentations: The Why, How & Where

Try going a day without sharing a story. 

Sound impossible?

Stories are an intrinsic part of our experience as humans. They’re a vital part of how we communicate with one another.

That said, if storytelling is so essential to our daily lives, why do so few harness it in their presentations? 

When we address an audience, we tend to focus on the important points we need to convey. We talk about data or explain a business model.

We concentrate on information that’s crucial to the outcome we’re hoping for.  Yet despite this, we still forget to answer why everyone in the room needs to hear what we have to say.

Your presentation content has to be more than just a barrage of information and numerical data.

This is where presentation storytelling comes in handy—there’s nothing more compelling than a good story. 

Just ask Dr. Zak, who carefully explains how the human brain responds to effective storytelling in this video:

Pretty cool, right? 

The effectiveness storytelling lies in how your audience reacts to it.

As social beings, we’re naturally attuned to our emotions. It doesn’t matter whether it makes you sad, happy, angry, or nostalgic — our brains love a good story.

This is something TED presenters have capitalized on.

If you review the list of the most viewed TED Talks, you’ll see each of them has a story integrated into the discussion.

As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out:

No matter how interesting the information, you’ll run up against the limitations of the brain and quickly overtax your audience. If instead you tell your audience a story, you get to jump right into the deeper parts of their brain, where emotion and memory work togetherthe hippocampus and amygdala.”

So the importance of storytelling can’t be overstated, but what can integrating a story arc do for your business presentations?

1) They Make Your Messages More Relatable

There’s a reason many of us filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days.

Facts and figures can make any lecture boring and mind-numbing. 

When incorporating storytelling, the right stories can make your message more meaningful and—most importantly—digestible.

This is especially true if you take the time to understand your  audience and the type of life stories that will grab their attention.

2) They Help You Connect with Your Audience

Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience.

They cut through the audience’s filter better than facts, giving you a greater chance of garnering more meaningful attention, earning their trust, and — ultimately — consuming your message.

Once you have a connection with your audience, you can have them hanging on every word you say.

3) They Make Your Audience Agree with You

When stories hit their mark, they can add a greater impact to your presentations, making it easier for the audience to agree with your points.

This happens because stories shut down whatever counter-arguments your listeners have, making them less likely to develop reasons to disagree. 

Integrating Storytelling in Business Presentations

man giving a business presentation

What is business storytelling?

According to Mike Murray, business storytelling is about “brands sharing their messages in ways that engage audiences and drive them to a desired action.” 

This might sound like content marketing, but Murray maintains that the two separate, but related, things ideas:

“Business storytelling is a distinct content discipline that leverages well-crafted narratives in a diverse range of content types. Content marketing is much broader and speaks to the collective efforts that companies use to communicate with their audiences in an informative and engaging way.”

But how does one integrate storytelling into a business presentation?

Actually, it’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for a presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch. 

First, Structure Your Presentation Like a Story

According to presentation storytelling expert Bruce Gabrielle, you’ll need to follow a simple but effective structure: Beginning, Middle, End.

Beginning: The Human Element

Start your presentation by letting your audience see there’s a genuine and relatable story behind what you’re presenting.

For example, identify a hero that your audience can relate to instead of leading with numbers or graphs. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on and that face will allow your audience to relate your topic to their own experiences.

Substitute “what” with “who do I really want to talk about?” For example, if you’re trying to discuss a marketing strategy, your hero could be a potential client. Describe the person you want to engage with your services. Talk about their demographics, traits, and values.

Middle: The Conflict

What would your favorite movie be like without conflict?

Like any good story, business presentations also need a bit of tension. Apart from his or her goals, you also have to identify the challenges and risks faced by your hero.

What are the things that bother your potential clients? What’s preventing them from engaging with your services?

End: The Resolution

After building conflict, offer your audience some reprieve by giving them a satisfying resolution.

At this point, you can put everything together and focus on data necessary to your discussion. While explaining the graph on your slides, keep referring back to your hero. What do these numbers have to do with the hero of your story? How does it solve the problems you identified earlier?

One thing to note is that although using stories in presentations will provide more impact, try to make use of captivating visuals, as well. While your narrative is certainly the most important part of your presentation, visuals remain to be an effective way to enhance audience immersion.

Let’s Take This A Bit Further…

Presenter telling a story on stage

To elicit even more powerful emotions from your audience, craft a story that follows the solid structure Gustav Freytag first envisioned 150 years ago:

Exposition

In a literary story, this is where the author lays out some “ground work” by presenting the characters, setting, and basic conflict.

This is where you establish context for your presentation. Introduce the point-of-view you’re presenting and share some background information. If the story focuses on an experience you had with a client, set the scene and illustrate the important details.

Rising Action

After presenting the context of your story, it’s time to build tension and increase conflict.

Start identifying obstacles that prevent your character from feeling fully satisfied or happy. If your story is from a target customer’s POV, tell your audience about the challenges they face.

Climax

As the turning point of your story, the climax is the part where your character comes face-to-face with their problem.

This is where the conflict becomes fully-realized and a solution is seen on the horizon. For your presentation, the climax marks where you start driving home your core message.

Falling Action

Slowly, as a solution becomes clearer and clearer, your character takes a course of action towards the identified goal.

In the traditional sense, this is where the protagonist battles the antagonist. For your presentation, this is where you further flesh out your core message, expounding more on how it helps resolve the problems you introduced early on.

Conclusion/Resolution

Finally, describe how your character meets their goals. This is where you explain how you and a difficult client came to an agreement. In another example, the conclusion is when your target customer finally achieves full resolution.

The Different Types of Business Stories

Man telling a joke during a presentation

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 narrative should be driven by a rationale that is essential to illustrating your presentation’s core message.

To get there, consider asking  yourself these key questions:

  • What is the main point you’re trying to get across?
  • What is the underlying principle behind your presentation?
  • What is the significance of this particular story?

The more you understand the key takeaway, the better you can deliver your presentation story.

In her book, “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins,” Annette Simmons identified six kinds of stories that can help facilitate business communications:

  • “Who am I” Stories
  • “Why am I here” Stories
  • Vision Stories
  • Values-in-Action Stories
  • Teaching Stories
  • “I know what you’re thinking” Stories

(You can read about each story here.)

While Simmons uses these stories to help frame interactions that are more straightforward, her insights can also be helpful to marketing presentations.

Particularly, it’s the first three that are important to presentation storytelling. 

These are the type of stories that help reveal insights to build trust and establish rapport between you and your audience.

Obviously, you won’t be telling stories from your own personal experience. Instead, think of answers to “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” and “What do I envision?” in terms of your brand and company identity. 

Here are a few specific questions, courtesy of Content Marketing Institute, to help you narrow it down:

  • What’s your reason for being?
  • What’s your history?
  • Who are your main characters?
  • What’s your corporate mission?
  • How have you failed?

Humans have always been storytellers. It’s our way of connecting with each other. 

In whatever form, the core of all our communications is the primordial impulse to tell and hear stories. Why not use that to improve your presentations?

A Tale as Old as TED

Man giving a TED Talk

As mentioned earlier, TED speakers are some of the best people to ask about storytelling tips. 

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. 

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. He talked about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection. 

What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle. If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.

Does your brand have an interesting origin story? This could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. 

Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.

TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand. 

But what else makes TED Talks special?

Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

Apart from these, top quality visuals are also necessary in engaging the audience. Consider consulting with PowerPoint presentation experts, it will prove a valuable step in the long term, especially for sales pitches.

The Other Half of Effective Presentation Storytelling: Visual Aids

To presenters shaking hands on stage

So what about your presentation’s visual aid (typically a PowerPoint)? Should you bolster your narrative with visuals?

Humans are highly visual creatures. We’re naturally attracted to beautiful colors and interesting patterns. 

In fact, our brain is able to process images 60,000 times faster than information presented in text. It’s also easier for us to retain visual information. 

According to Dr. John Medina, after three days, we’re able to recall 65% of information if it was presented with images or illustrations.

So if you’re presenting information that’s bulky with data, the audience will thank you if you can integrate comprehensible illustrations. Take the usual charts and graphs a step further by weaving stories through imagery.

Let’s take a look at some facts.

According to a whitepaper published by NewCred and Getty Images, the following statistics are proof:

  • 40% of people will respond better to information presented visually
  • 83% of human learning is visual
  • 44% of users are more likely to engage with brands on social platforms if they post pictures

Articles and blog posts that contain images get 94% more views than those without

It’s easy to see why images are important to presentations and marketing materials. 

Through visual storytelling, you can create stronger emotional impact. Visuals convey a story that immediately allows your audience to connect with the message you’re sharing.

So whether you’re delivering a presentation or revamping your social media profiles, visual storytelling is the best way to go. 

When selecting pictures to use, try to keep in mind the four key characteristics of visual storytelling:

Authentic

The best stories come from candid moments.

It’s why photo sharing has become so prevalent in the age of social media. Replacing the super-polished stock photos are snapshots that allow others to see the world through a more personal perspective.

Take, for example, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. Instead of featuring models that are photo-shopped to perfection, Dove featured everyday women and challenged today’s absurd beauty standards.

To find images that are more authentic to your story, focus on what your brand stands for. Look for images that convey your identity and experiences as a brand. Next, look for something that will resonate with your audience.

Think about the people you’re addressing and what might be authentic for them.

Relevant

Visual storytelling should also take into account what’s happening in the world.

After all, your message doesn’t exist in a bubble.

It’s contextualized in a milieu—a world where billions of individuals are discovering new things every single day. Make sure your visual stories are relatable and relevant to the audience you want to target. Consider what Oreo did to make the most out of a blackout that interrupted the Super Bowl.

For your own visual story, choose images that evoke a sense of time and culture.

Sensory

The only thing better than a picture is the real thing.

But since you can’t have real situations on a PowerPoint slide, you’re going to have to settle for the next best thing. Visual storytelling thrives on imagery that can heighten emotions and senses.

Close-up and macro shots are great for showing textures that audiences can almost touch. On the other hand, a long shot can also take your audience into a particular scene, allowing them to experience it through a wider perspective.

Archetypal

Lastly, the best of visual storytelling alludes to narratives that are practically as old as time.

If you think about it, you’ll notice that all your favorite stories are tied together by recurring themes and archetypes.

These are universal symbols—called such because they can be found across many different countries and cultures. For your visual stories to be a success, you need to take these symbols and turn it into your own.

Find an archetype that relates to your brand and make it your own. Get to know your own new character and find images that correspond to this new version of a well-loved symbol.

Visual storytelling is a great technique to use in presentations and marketing efforts. By weaving imagery together, you can create a story that speaks volumes about your core message.

Integrating Visuals to Enhance Your Core Message

There’s more to visual storytelling than sticking random pictures to your slides. You can probably guess what we mean by “visual storytelling:”

Your statistics won’t make much sense if the visuals you add only serve an aesthetic purpose. Visual storytelling is about using different media that contribute to the message you’re presenting.

As an example, here’s a small part of an interactive infographic by Collaborative Fund, Hyperakt and Start Up American Partnership:

The infographic showcases the positive effects of car sharing to the environment.

It offers a lot of statistics that are perfectly illustrated to create more impact. It’s hard to envision the difference a vague number makes but through this illustration, you can perfectly see how much carbon dioxide emissions have diminished.

Related: Mastering Data Visualization for High-Stakes Presentations

Your text-based, bullet point-ridden PowerPoint design isn’t helping anyone. It’s not engaging your audience, and it’s not helping you get your message across.

Instead, you should consider taking inspiration from visual storytelling. Showcase and illustrate your key points with visual elements, and your PowerPoint design will have more impact.

Hopefully this post has conveyed the importance of storytelling in presentations from both the aural and visual perspectives. Ready to take your next high-stakes presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation!

8 Ways to Maximize Engagement in Internal Communications Presentations

Are big changes happening in your company? How will you spread that information to every employee?

The success of your business depends on your effective communication skills as a leader. Simple emails and memos don’t inspire. The challenge lies in engaging your employees.

Effective internal communication creates a more unified front throughout your company. With everyone on the same page, you can guarantee you are all working toward the same goals.

At SlideGenius, we specialize in professionally designed PowerPoint presentations. We fully believe in the power and capabilities of visual storytelling.

Our expertise with PowerPoint has helped over 3,000 clients worldwide, boosting their communication internally and externally.

We design every presentation with the intent of creating engaging material to generates positive results for you.

The following are some tips on how you can boost the effectiveness of your internal presentations:

Disseminate Presentations to Each Department

Tailor versions of your presentation for the context of each department. It will consume more time and effort, but ultimately, this hard work maximizes the relevance of your presentation in the audience’s eyes.

Broad presentations may save time, but they sacrifice delivering a focused message for something quick and easy. Don’t set a bad example. Do it right the first time.

Tell a Story

Even within the context of seemingly mundane businesses or industries, injecting storytelling into your presentations can make them more compelling and engaging. It’s the difference between your audience staring at their feet and watching your every move.

The goal of storytelling is to get your audience to relate with the information being presented. The more people can grasp what’s being told to them, the more they are able to follow the flow of your discussion until the end.

Provide Concrete Examples

People latch onto information more easily when it’s clear-cut and definitive. Vague statements regarding your company’s improvement or decline fosters disinterest. After all, how can anyone improve a situation they can hardly imagine?

Case studies are great examples of concrete information. Don’t be afraid to bare the nitty-gritty with your employees. It’s this data that will prove you are the authority on the subject.

Boost Company Morale

Your presentation isn’t only meant to update your employees on things happening in the company and the market. Treat these meetings as opportunities to express your gratitude to those who made the goals achievable. Connect to people broadly, but also individually. Feeling seen not only makes them more inclined to tune into what you’re saying, it will put them on their best behavior afterwards.

When you boost a person’s confidence in their work, it will increase their motivation to improve.

Use Professionally Designed Infographics

Make the most out of your data by presenting them with a unique visual twist. People are more likely to process and retain visual information better than simple text and numbers. A well-made infographic has the power to transform even ordinary bits of data into engaging materials.

Encourage Audience Participation

You may be the lead presenter, but the presentation does not need to be a one-way street. Invite your employees to ask questions or provide feedback during your presentation to include them in the discussion.

This involvement helps promote a feeling of inclusivity and transparency that will be appreciated by your employees. It’s also a great way to remind them that there is an opportunity to practice teamwork in every setting.

Provide Handouts

Handouts will help your audience keep track of everything that’s being talked about, especially for heftier presentations. Employees will be able to take those handouts with them as accessible resources of information.

Most people will not absorb all the relevant information the first time around. Allowing people to hold onto this info will give them more time to process it, absorb it and increase your chances of making a longer lasting impression.

Make Your Presentation Available Online

There will be cases when some members of your organization will not be available for your presentation. Having an online version of your deck ensures everyone will get to see it when they can, and even review it if need be.

As you continue this practice, you will be building an increasingly invaluable source of knowledge and value as well as increasing your own profile.

SlideGenius Prepares Presentations for You  

When there’s too much work on your hands already, partner up with us and we can design your next internal presentation for you! From PowerPoint presentations to animated videos, we professionally craft presentations to boost communication skills and internal messaging.

Our dedicated work is possible because of our team of passionate presentation designers, writers, and animators. We continuously develop our skills to provide every client with exciting and unique presentations that meet the world-class standards.

We’ve helped countless clients raise their company’s profile internally and externally. We can do the same for you! The growth of our clients is our greatest measure of success. Together, let’s elevate your company further through the limitless possibilities in PowerPoint!

Reach out now to get a free quote—contact us today!

Does Storytelling Work? Well, It Worked for Many TED Speakers

Storytelling is the best way to engage your audience during a presentation.

Apart from a custom PowerPoint, it’s important that you establish a connection and elicit powerful emotions. This allows your audience to relate to and understand the need for your products and services because you’ve gone through the same thing at some point in your life.

TED speakers are some of the best people to ask when it comes to the most effective public speaking tips. They tell stories, which is the core of their mission during each presentation. Telling stories, after all, is one of the most effective forms of communication.

Human rights attorney and public speaker Bryan Stevenson has received the longest standing ovation ever given at a TED Talk. Carmine Gallo from Harvard Business Review shares that when he asked Steven about his speaking style, he says that he imagines talking to a friend over dinner, talking at an average of 190 words per minute, as compared to a motivational speaker who may go at 220 words per minute.

That said, he must have had something up his sleeve if he’s capable of coaxing his audience to a lasting standing ovation.

In March 2012, Stevenson held a TED Talk called We Need to Talk About an Injustice. Here, he talks about his grandmother and other people in his life, allowing him and the audience to establish a personal connection. What made it successful was its emotional arc—a compelling story of overcoming a relatable struggle.

If you don’t have a personal experience to share with your audience, tell them stories about real people—previous customers that have benefited from your company. Relevant real-life case studies are irresistible because the audience knows these are from other customers and not just opinions based on your thoughts alone.

Does your brand have an interesting origin story? You never know, this could be engaging and entertaining, like Airbnb’s—three guys making a few bucks by letting attendees at a local conference sleep at their place. Not only did this pay for the steep rent, but it also sparked a $30 billion-dollar idea.

TED Talks have stood out as an effective medium because it provides extensive information that’s easy to understand. But what else makes TED Talks special? Carmine Gallo boils its core elements down to three. He notes that the success of these presentations can be attributed to these three qualities:

  • Emotional
  • Novel
  • Memorable

Apart from these, top quality visuals are also necessary in engaging the audience. Consider consulting with PowerPoint presentation experts, it will prove a valuable step in the long term, especially for sales pitches.

Can you imagine having the power of TED speakers during presentations? To engage people until the end, making memorable pitches every time?

Storytelling is an art—an effective presentation technique. With passion, novel ideas, and memorable delivery, you’ll be able to pitch like a TED speaker. Keep these in mind and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

What Makes a Successful Finance Presentation?

When conducting a business presentation that revolves around finance, it’s important that the data resonates with the audience without it being too much to take in. While you want to be transparent and show them the big picture, you wouldn’t want to exhaust them by going over every figure.

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Here are ways to make your financial presentation effective and understandable:

Clarify your objectives

Make sure you know what your presentation is for. Clarify what you want to achieve by talking about finance in a room full of people. For example, if you want to talk about yearend revenues, your objective could revolve around how this affects your company in the present and in the upcoming year.

As part of custom PowerPoint presentation planning, set an agenda, as this makes it easier for the audience to follow the flow of your discussion—it organizes your content into sections. With a sound agenda, you can set the financial scene and work toward the reveal of important data.

Having a clear agenda helps your audience save questions for the appropriate sections, which in turn benefits you in maintaining your momentum.

Don’t just show data—tell a story.

You can’t just project numbers and graphs on the screen and expect your audience to what it is and what it’s about—you need to go into detail and tell the story behind the data. This is where you can provide insight and share your business goals with your audience—you’ll want to discuss why these numbers are important to the company.

Pro tip: follow the three-part story structure and divide your narrative into three parts—the beginning, middle, and end.

Start by describing things as they are. That way, you create rapport with your audience and if you share an idea they are already familiar with, then that will engage them more.

Once you’ve laid all the facts, show them how things could change. Make sure that you cite reliable sources to increase your credibility as a speaker.

When it comes to the conclusion, make it inspiring—or as Nancy Duarte calls it, “new bliss.” This concept refers to telling the audience about how much better their world will be if they adopt your ideas.

Go beyond charts and graphs.

Presentation design helps make your topic become more understandable. Charts and graphs are great for representing important figures, including market shares and revenue for the quarter or fiscal year.

To win the hearts of your audience, however, simple graphics are not going to cut it—try experimenting with data visualization to communicate financial messages more efficiently.

Make your presentation a two-way conversation.

When your presentation becomes a monologue, your audience becomes less engaged—less involved—with your discussion.

Make your audience’s financial priorities a topic for discussion at some point in your presentation. Asking them questions and for their feedback helps them retain information better because they become directly involved.

How you communicate data has a significant effect on how your audience will perceive it. Discussing financial information is a hit or miss, especially when figures and complex data are flashed on the screen, which is why you need to present details in a manner they can relate to.

Lastly, remember not to dump data on your slides—stand back and think about what you need to include. Your custom PowerPoint presentation should only contain key financial statements and talk around them in detail later in the discussion.

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References:

Duarte, Nancy. “Structure Your Presentation Like a Story.” Harvard Business Review. October 31, 2012. hbr.org/2012/10/structure-your-presentation-li

Ashe-Edmunds, Sam. “How to Give a Presentation on the Financial Information of a Company.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/give-presentation-financial-information-company-61420.html

 

3 Things Presenters Can Learn From the Written Word

Delivery is often prioritized during presentations. Since writing is mainly a behind-the-scenes matter, few consider its impact on their pitch. Even so, it still matters, both directly and indirectly, because well-written content is the foundation of an effective presentation.

To get your audience’s attention, apply a few techniques writers use to reel in their readers. Here are three things presenters can learn from the written word:

Research Is Key

Content writing is part of the preparation, though it’s sometimes overlooked in favor of spontaneity. However, coming in totally unprepared not only damages your credibility but also results in sloppy delivery. While a natural and conversational approach establishes rapport and engages the audience, you need to keep a few tricks up your sleeve.

Undertaking research is one way to determine the ideal approach for your pitch. To figure out how to reach out to them, look up your audience’s preferences, interests, and cultural beliefs. This works for all types of presentations. If you’re delivering a sales pitch, research is key to connecting with your target market as a speaker. For an educational lecture, you’ll definitely need to know people’s learning styles to effectively deliver your ideas.

Research is the backbone of content, which, in turn, is the foundation of a presentation.

Break Things Down

Don’t assume that the audience can read your mind. When it comes to your pitch, you need to think like a writer and present like one.

Create an outline to specify the flow of your speech and the main points you want to tackle. Mike Elgan, a writer for online publications, including Computerworld, notes how a business presentation usually has four parts:

  1. an introduction to the company
  2. an introduction to the product
  3. an in-depth explanation of each feature, and
  4. the description of the product’s benefits.

Take care not to over-compartmentalize your content. Instead, create categories that appeal to the audience’s creative side.

The use of visual metaphors, storytelling, and emotions can help balance your deck before bringing in the hard facts. You can use any combination of the three as a precursor to your actual information, as long as you stick to the point, but don’t go off on a tangent for too long. Rambling will confuse your audience even more.

Signal Phrases

Writers use signal phrases in their writing as transitions or as preliminaries to in-text citations. For example, you can say, “This theorist suggests” or “According to this source” as indicators of a citation. Here, the verb “suggest” and the compound preposition “according to” are the key words to the signal phrase. In writing, these words inform the reader that you’re about to introduce your sources.

Similarly, presenters can also these to hint a change in tone. Some presentations require reference citations, but the sudden shift to technical terms may seem jarring to the audience.

Key your listeners in by beginning your formal statements with signal phrases. If you’re new to public speaking, you can begin major points with signal phrases. It’s a way of arranging your data in a logical manner and keeping you on track of your outline. This serves as a guide not only to you but also to your listeners.

Summing It Up

Oral and written communication are actually two sides to the same coin, and one can pick up plenty of things from the other.

Don’t disregard the power of the written word in an oral presentation. As in writing, presenters can benefit from plenty of research, creativity, and some signal phrases. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your speech, you can start creating a slide deck as a complement.

If you need help with your visual design, contact our SlideGenius experts for a free quote!

 

References:

Elgan, Mike. “Give Killer Presentations: Think like a Writer.” Computerworld. February 9, 2013. www.computerworld.com/article/2494756/desktop-apps/give-killer-presentations–think-like-a-writer.html
“Transitions, Signal Phrases, and Pointing Words – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/writing/textbooks/boundless-writing-textbook/writing-effective-paragraphs-253/connecting-your-ideas-259/transitions-signal-phrases-and-pointing-words-110-10297

Featured Image: “diary writing” by Fredrick Rubensson on flickr.com

Craft Your Corporate Presentations into a Great Story

“People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” – Steven Spielberg

Since stories and narratives make up most of our daily interactions, why not treat your presentation as a story?

For communication coach Nick Morgan, there are several ways to structure your presentation, but if you’ve got a story tell, it’s best to go with the Classic Story structure.

Craft your speech with story patterns that your audience recognizes from novels, books, and movies: with a beginning, middle, and an end.

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Begin with a Hook

Main characters are commonly introduced in the beginning, giving the reader an idea of the world they’re living in and the possible conflict that moves the story forward. This establishes a connection between people and ideas, making a tangible impact on the story’s flow.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work,” Plato said.

It’s impossible to capture your audience’s attention without a strong introduction. Crafting an effective and compelling beginning can hook them to your pitch. Establish a good start that communicates your ideas to leave a dramatic effect on your audience.

Develop the Middle

Screenwriters are great at bringing suspenseful conflicts in stories. Emotions run high in this segment. The midpoint depicts progression from the rising action, causing problems for the main character, leading to either their demise or fall.

In presentations, the middle builds your audience’s interest, strengthening your brand image and highlighting your main idea. State the problem as if introducing a villain, then provide a solution by revealing yourself as the conquering hero.

End with a Call-to-Action

Versatile writers provide varying conclusions: happy, tragic, or unresolved. No matter how the story ends, readers always take away something from it.

Your presentation’s ending must be as alluring as the beginning. Attract your audience, then turn them into possible clients. The best way to end a discussion is by providing a call-to-action. Clearly state what you can offer while assuring that you can meet their needs.

Conclusion

A presentation based on a story structure gives your message a natural kick.

Incorporate the three elements of this story pattern to influence your audience the way writers influence their readers.

If you need presentation ideas with screenwriter twists, then book a meeting with our presentation experts now!

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References

Morgan, Nick. “5 Quick Ways To Structure A Presentation.” Forbes. February 2, 2011. Accessed May 15, 2015.
Steve Jobs: Use Heroes and Villains in Your Business Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 8, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2015.

It’s Time to Change Up Your Elevator Pitch

When was the last time you delivered an elevator pitch? Did it help you achieve the outcome you were hoping for?

The elevator pitch is a concept that you’re probably already familiar with. In fact, you’ve likely crafted dozens of different versions in the years you’ve spent as a business professional.

The idea of an elevator pitch is to make the most of unexpected opportunities. You never know when the chance to reach out to prospects and pitch your new idea arises. If your elevator pitch is redundant and unremarkable, you can easily lose the opportunity to take your idea to the next level.

So, has your elevator pitch been working lately? If you’re feeling a little rusty, maybe it’s time to brush off the dust.

Here are our quick thoughts on how you can improve your elevator pitch:

It’s all about focusing on the main idea 

An elevator pitch has two characteristics:

First, it must be short enough to be delivered in a few minutes. Second, it must also be persuasive. Basically, your goal is to spark the interest of your listener in as little time as possible.

You’re not talking to get an immediate “yes”. Your elevator pitch is a quick introduction to your ideas for an opportunity to go further into details. What truly matters at this point is to get straight to the point and highlight the main idea.

To do that, focus on selling your story. That story should zero in on the main idea or the core message. Don’t spend too much time trying to explain details that may derail your conversation. Remember, because you only have a few minutes, focus on big moments.

By that, we mean getting to answer three crucial questions:

  • What do you do?
  • Why is it important?
  • How are you different from others?

Think of your elevator pitch as a movie trailer

In order to achieve the two characteristics of an elevator pitch, take some pointers from movie trailers. In an interview with Co.Create, Buddha Jones production house partner, John Long, imparts nine of the essential storytelling tips used in movie trailers.

A trailer is basically a synopsis of a movie. To urge viewers to watch a new release, editors condense a film to a sequence of clips that reveal basic facts about the movie’s narrative. Potential viewers are told what the story is about, who the characters are, and what potential problems they’ll face.

However, they also leave room for curiosity. By keeping the preview within certain boundaries, trailers urge the audience to seek out the answers to “what happens next?” and “how will this end?”

Similar to that, an elevator pitch is the synopsis of a longer and more complete presentation. While a traditional pitch might require you to give details about your business and activities, an elevator pitch is supposed to leave room for further questions.

As we mentioned earlier, you’re not trying to seal the deal here. What you’re trying to achieve is a better chance to converse and convince your prospect. Leave out the heavier details in your elevator pitch and focus on the premise instead.

Conclusion

All in all, the way to a better elevator pitch is to get a handle on the bare bones of your presentation. Go back to the most fundamental details of your pitch and make sure they stand out.

This isn’t about bombarding the audience with well-researched facts and data. An elevator pitch is about getting to the heart of the matter.

Get started on changing up your elevator pitch. Who knows? You might take the elevator with someone that could be your biggest client or investor yet. Don’t miss out on a perfectly great opportunity.

 

References

Hart, Hugh. “9 (Short) Storytelling Tips From A Master Of Movie Trailers.” Co.Create. May 29, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Steps to Mastering a Killer Elevator Pitch | SlideGenius.” SlideGenius, Inc.. June 10, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Thomas R. Stegelmann via Flickr

Why Storytelling is an Effective Presentation Technique

Can you go a day without sharing a story? For 24 hours, you won’t be able to talk to your friends or tell your family how your day went. On Facebook, you can’t comment about the weather nor will you be able to share viral challenges you’re trying out.

Sounds impossible? That’s because it probably is. People are hardwired to be social beings, and part of that is our need to communicate with one another.

Presentation Storytelling
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If storytelling is integrated into our everyday routine, why do we leave it out of our presentations? When we address an audience, we tend to focus on the important points we need to convey. We talk about data or explain a business model.

Sometimes, we turn back to our slides to display a graph. We concentrate on information that’s crucial to the outcome we’re hoping for. Despite all this, we tend to leave out something that seems just as vital. We forget to answer why everyone in the room needs to hear what we have to say.

This is where storytelling comes in handy. A presentation with a story has something more than a list of numbers that prove your business plan is viable. Take this scenario narrated by Dennis Nishi in an article for the Wall Street Journal:

Paul Smith had 20 minutes to sell the CEO of Procter & Gamble, and his team of managers, on new market-research techniques for which Mr. Smith’s department wanted funding. As associate director of P&G’s market research, Mr. Smith had spent three weeks assembling a concise pitch with more than 30 PowerPoint slides.

… “I felt like maybe I hadn’t done a very good job because he wasn’t looking at my slides like everyone else,” says Mr. Smith, who also noticed that the other managers didn’t seem very engaged. “It didn’t occur to me until later that he did that because he was more interested in what I had to say than in what my slides looked like.”

Like most people, Paul worked hard to hone his pitch into a PowerPoint deck. Despite his effort, he noticed that the people he was trying to convince seemed disengaged to what he presenting. As he later realized, a successful presentation goes beyond what your slides look like. What really matters is the heart of what you’re trying to say.

Storytelling in Presentations: A Tale as Old as TED

The reason storytelling is an effective presentation technique lies on how your audience reacts to it. As social beings, we’re all naturally attuned to our emotions.

Time for another challenge. This time, take a minute to list down 10 of your favorite movies. Looking at your list, think about why these movies made an impact on you. I’ll wager it’s because they were able to connect with you on an emotional level.

It doesn’t matter whether it makes you sad, happy, angry, or nostalgic. Our brains love a good story that makes us feel something. This is something successful TED presenters have capitalized on. If you review the list of the most viewed TED Talks, you’ll see each of them has a story integrated into the discussion.

As Forbes contributor Nick Morgan points out, “no matter how interesting the information, you’ll run up against the limitation of the brain and quickly overtax your audience…If instead you tell your audience a story, you get to jump right into the deeper parts of their brain, where emotion and memory work together, the hippocampus and amygdala.”

Integrating Storytelling in Business

Now, the only question that remains is how. It’s pretty easy to create a heart-warming story for an inspirational presentation. The real challenge is turning data into a narrative that packs an emotional punch. How do you do it? According to presentation expert Bruce Gabrielle, you’ll need to follow a simple but effective structure: Beginning, Middle, End.

Storytelling: 3 steps
(Image Source)

Beginning

Start your presentation by identifying a hero that your audience can relate to. Instead of leading with numbers or graphs, introduce a human element into your presentation. There is always a face behind all the abstract concepts and issues you’re taking on. To identify it, tackle your presentation using a different angle.

Substitute “what” with “who do I really want to talk about?” For example, if you’re trying to discuss a marketing strategy, your hero could be a potential client. Describe the person you want to engage with your services. Talk about their demographics, traits, and values.

Middle

What would your favorite movie be like without conflict? Like any good story, business presentations also need a bit of tension. Apart from his or her goals, you also have to identify the challenges and risks faced by your hero.

What are the things that bother your potential clients? What’s preventing them from engaging with your services?

End 

After building conflict, offer your audience some reprieve by giving them a satisfying resolution. At this point, you can put everything together and focus on data necessary to your discussion. While explaining the graph on your slides, keep referring back to your hero. What do these numbers have to do with the hero of your story? How does it solve the problems you identified earlier?

To give your stories more impact, try to make use of captivating visuals as well. While your narrative is certainly the most important part of your presentation, visuals remain to be an effective way to enhance audience immersion.

Conclusion

Apart from working on a short PowerPoint deck, try to make use of words that generate mental images. Make use of vivid descriptions and action words to allow some room for imagination.

Not only is storytelling an integral part of our daily lives, it can also be a powerful presentation technique. Turn dull data and information into a feast for the imagination by learning to craft your own presentation story.

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References

Gabrielle, Bruce. “Storytelling in the Boardroom: Part 3 – Three Secrets for Better Stories.” Office Blogs. Accessed September 9, 2014.
Morgan, Nick. “Three Secrets To Delivering A Powerful Speech.” Forbes. Accessed September 4, 2014.
Myers, Courtney Boyd. “Why the Human Is a Social Animal [Report from the 99% Conference].” TNW Network. May 05, 2011. Accessed September 9, 2014.

 

Featured Image: Horia Varlan via Flickr

PowerPoint Presentations Can Benefit From Powerful Storytelling

Who doesn’t love to hear stories?

PowerPoint presentations become more effective in their purpose when supported by engaging stories.

Why are They Important?

1. Make Your Messages More Relatable

There’s a reason why many of us had filled our notebooks with doodles during our school days: Barrage of facts and figures can make any lecture boring and mind-numbing. When incorporated into your presentation, the right stories can make your message more meaningful and more importantly, digestible. This is especially true if you take the time to learn more about your audience and the type of life stories that are likely to get their attention.

After doing your research, draw a story from your own experience that’s similar to that of your general audience and use it to appeal to them emotionally.

Stories can help establish a bond between the storyteller and the audience. We may not be aware of it at times but every one of us longs for a connection with others – especially with those who have had the same experiences as ourselves.

2. Allow You to Connect with Your Audience

As stories can cut through the audience’s filter better than facts, you have a greater chance of earning their trust.

If you’re a good storyteller, you could even establish a connection with them. Once you have a connection with your audience, you can practically say anything to them and they’ll hardly express any disagreement.

3. Can Make Your Audience Agree with You

As long as your stories hit their mark, they can help you make your case and have your audience agree with your points.

This happens because stories shut down whatever counter-arguments your listeners have, making them less likely to think of reasons to disagree. Another reason for this is that stories have the power to touch human emotions, which increases the likelihood of your audience agreeing with you.

Now that you know the importance of storytelling in creating a presentation, what now? How do you take advantage of it? Well, all you need to do is find a nice way to tell your stories. Here are some tips for your to consider:

How to Incorporate Stories

1. Add a human element to your story

As with any stories, you need someone for your audience to relate to. This someone is the hero. In your case, this could be a student, a colleague, a consumer, or anyone who’ll make sense being included in your story.

2. Give your hero a goal and an obstacle from achieving that goal

A story without conflict can be boring. So give your hero something to aspire to as well as some challenges he needs to overcome. In your PowerPoint, this could be the part you introduce the problem.

3. Come up with a satisfying ending

People love happy endings. They inspire feelings of hope and joy. This is where you show how your ideas can solve the problems you’ve introduced earlier.

Hopefully, these three steps are enough to get you started on polishing your storytelling skills. In any case, arranging your deck in this order can make your presentation more engaging and make your job as a presenter much easier.

 

Reference

How to Use the Persuasive Power of Metaphors.” Enchanting Marketing. 2013. Accessed June 2, 2014.

Why You Should Hire a Professional PowerPoint Designer

There’s more to creating a PowerPoint presentation than merely choosing a template and inserting stock images. Sure, you can do all those and perhaps more (like adding some custom animations). But these might not be enough to get your message across.

Look, you may know how to drive a car, but it doesn’t automatically qualify you to be in NASCAR, right?

Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong about doing the heavy lifting yourself. When you’ve taken the time to maximize its features, you’d discover that PowerPoint is indeed a powerful tool that you can use to your advantage.

Certain situations, however, really do call for that professional touch. It isn’t a question of aesthetics, but more of a storytelling concern.

Storytelling Advantage

A professional PowerPoint designer understands that stories are what draw an audience to the idea he’s presenting. This means he has to rely on his storytelling skills to communicate effectively. And by storytelling, we don’t mean the way you’d read a tale to little kids before bedtime.

It’s more of how a director spins a yarn on the big screen. After all, the nitty-gritty of putting together a PowerPoint presentation is pretty much like what goes on behind the glitz and glamor of the movies.

You may have the benefit of a strong star power or striking cinematography, but if the storytelling fails to engage the audience, the movie falls flat. And when this happens, the audience can be very unforgiving.

Design Knowledge

As with producing a movie, making a presentation involves a number of elements. In both cases, making all the disparate elements go well together can help you tell a cohesive story.

For example, the use of colors to highlight some points will only work if you align the text in a way that’s comprehensible to your audience. These may be minor details but someone who isn’t familiar with design may miss out on their significance.

Professional PowerPoint designers know when to use (or not to use) the right design elements to support the story they want to tell. They have a great eye for detail that allows them to come up with successful slides. They understand that effective presentation design isn’t just about slapping images on every slide.

Conclusion

There are many different elements that go into making a PowerPoint presentation, and only a professional can bring them all together seamlessly. To pull through with a winning presentation, it’s important that your content, delivery, and design go hand-in-hand.

Without one, you definitely can’t succeed with the other. And that’s what professionals are there for. If you’re running short on time, or you simply want an expert’s opinion, contact a presentation partner you can trust. The returns on this investment will be worth it.

 

References

Top 10 Websites for Presentation Images.” Presentation Magazine. Accessed May 6, 2014.