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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!

Bringing Passion into Your Professional Presentation

Emotions play a vital role in communication. In terms of presentations, you get your audience’s attention by appealing to their feelings.

But what do most presenters forget?


If you want your listeners to be passionate about your professional presentation, you have to be passionate about it, too. They’ll know how interested you really are based on how you deliver your message.

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Passion: The Heart of Successful Presentations

Start your presentation with in-depth preparation. Whether you’re tasked to do business presentations or to facilitate management meetings, prepare to impart your message in the most efficient way.

You’ve researched about your topic, prepared your PowerPoint presentation, and incorporated powerful and striking visual designs. How can you achieve everything without being passionate about it?

Whatever subject you’re discussing, being passionate about what you do improves your performance.

How Passion Helps

Passion precedes perfection. You want to make your professional presentation effective, engaging, and persuasive. But how does passion help you?

As mentioned above, you can’t be successful if you don’t enjoy what you do. You may convince your audience in some areas, but they might not remember your message. This is why emotions are important, especially when you’re presenting to a large group of individuals.

Emotional Appeal Creates Involvement

Aristotle once said, “People do not merely listen to the speech; they listen to the person.”

An interesting subject falls flat if it can’t engage others. Remember that your listeners are always a significant part of any public speaking event.

Make your listeners feel involved. Find areas where you can inject ideas that’ll move them.

A Sense of Involvement Boosts Attention

Once you’ve made your audience feel involved, they’ll become more attentive. Since you’re aiming to build a shared emotional belief with them, share your own experiences to sound authentic and interesting. Doing so won’t only convince, but also build their trust and connection with you.

People Want Real Connections

People are more interested in real life stories. Storytelling is effective because people will always associate your stories with your ideas, and ultimately, your brand.

For example, keynote speaker, Les Brown uses his passion for encouraging others to live their dreams and have a larger vision for their lives. He effectively convinces his audience by translating his own dedication to his craft into a winning deck.

Genuine feelings make people more inclined to believe in you.

You can measure the success of your presentation by how easily your audience recalls your message. You build relationships once you’ve created shared experiences with them.

It takes practice to accomplish an effective presentation. But when you become passionate about public speaking, you move forward to becoming a successful presenter.

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Craft Your Corporate Presentations into a Great Story.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 15, 2015. Accessed May 20, 2015.
Les BrownAccessed May 20, 2015.

Business Storytelling: Turn Presentations into a Powerful Marketing Tool

Business storytelling has been helping brands add more impact to their online content, and it can do the same for your presentations.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: Your presentations have the potential to become one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal. During presentations, you’re directly talking to the people you want to reach out.

So don’t waste a good opportunity by boring potential clients with bad delivery. Engage them with a simple technique that’s ‘as old as time’. Tell them a great story.

What is business storytelling?

According to Mike Murray, business storytelling is basically about “brands sharing their messages in ways that engage audiences and drive them to a desired action.” It might sound similar to the definition of content marketing we gave previously, but Murray maintains that they are two separate, but related things.

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

To frame it, content marketing refers to a collection of things you do to reach out and engage consumers and potential clients. One of the ways you can do that is through presentations that reveal the core identity of your brand and company.

What business story should you tell?

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

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 business storytelling in your presentations. 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?



Murray, Mike. “Business Storytelling: Key Questions.” Content Marketing Institute. April 23, 2014. Accessed July 24, 2014.
The Six Kinds of Stories.” Annette Simmons. 2014. Accessed July 24, 2014.
Williams, Debbie. “Find the Heart of Your Brand Storytelling with These 6 Questions.” Content Marketing Institute. June 19, 2013. Accessed July 24, 2014.


Featured Image: UNE Photos via Flickr