We’ve all been there. You’re talking to someone, laying out all of the logical reasons why they should believe what you’re telling them, but the information just isn’t getting through. When you encounter this problem, it’s usually a sign that you’re being too logical and not connecting with your audience on the emotional or personal level. It may be time to tell a story.
Stories are a great way to increase the effectiveness of any presentation. They’re perfect for:
- Openings, to get the audience in the mood to listen and interested in what you’re saying
- Closings, to sum up everything you’ve talked about and drive the point home
- Returning back to key concepts mid-presentation by tying things back into the story
Why do stories work so well at keeping our attention? Well, storytelling is one of the oldest modes of communication. It worked just as well around a fire as it does at the latest IMAX Spielberg movie.
At this point you may be thinking, “Ok, but how do I find a good story to use in my presentation?”
The truth is, there’s no magic solution to finding a good story to use in your presentation. The best thing you can do is to have your subject matter prepared well ahead of time, perk up your ears, and wait for a good story to find you. As you wait, your unconscious brain will be working over the details of your presentation, and looking for parallels out in the real world.
If you happen upon a story that resonates with you and relates to your subject matter, it’s best to write it down and work on getting the story exactly how you want it for your presentation. Don’t just retell the story randomly—the best stories have thought put into them. Think, “how can I tell this story with maximum effect, for the specific purpose of this presentation?”
Stories come in many shapes and sizes, but generally speaking, there are two things that make a story memorable. The first is suspense, the other is the release from that suspense (also known as the climax of the story). Suspense keeps the audience in their seats, making them pay attention. The release is the resolution, the “payoff” the audience gets for listening. Making sure the story you tell has both of these aspects will make it that much better and more impactful.
So, even if you’re happy with the way your presentations are going, you owe it to yourself to try building a story into your next one to see what happens. In 99 of 100 cases, your presentation will be better for it. You’ll be able to make a bigger impact.