Present Your Point More Compellingly – Tell a Story

Far from the bedtime stories of childhood or the pop culture of films, novels and television shows, a business presentation may not seem like the appropriate place for a story. After all, business presentations are where we talk about hard facts. Business presentations are where we let the data influence logical decision-making. Business presentations are no place for a story. Or are they?

Why Stories?

People love stories. They can’t help themselves. From the days of our ancestors sitting around the campfire to the modern day storytellers on screen, when we listen to a story, we want to know about the people in the story. We want to know what happens next. Think about it. We’ve all sat through an awful because we had to know how the story ended. Stories draw an audience into your presentation. Being drawn in helps the audience connect better with you and with your message.

Stories help make the abstract more concrete. In business, we often have to deal with concepts that are hard to visualize if we haven’t experienced with them ourselves. A story can help create that picture of what the idea looks like in real life. The more concrete we can make an idea and tie it to something our audience already knows, the more likely our audience is to understand and to remember our message.

3 Tips for Storytelling in Presentations

Make the stories personal. When telling stories, talk about things you’ve experienced or observed. That’s one way to make sure your audience hasn’t just read the story on the internet, in a book, etc. Plus because you’re the speaker, the audience wants to hear your insights. Telling personal stories gives the audience a glimpse into who you are and how you think. Stories helps them to learn about and like you.

Have a point. When telling a story, be sure to have a point. The story doesn’t have to directly relate to the subject you’re speaking on but it should have what presentation skills expert Max Dixon calls a transferable metaphor — the story needs to have a lesson that illustrates the bigger message you’re trying to deliver. The value of the story will be lost if you can’t tie the lesson of the story back to the information you provide. So tell the story and make your point.

Include emotions. When telling the story, include an emotional element that will connect with your audience. Business or not, we’re all human beings and emotions touch us as individuals. While logic may seem the dominate business theme, emotions tie into business decisions too. Adding an emotional element to your story will help strengthen the connection of your audience to your message. The emotion can range from humor to empathy depending on the subject and the point you’re trying to make. Regardless of the emotion, stories that touch your audience, whether with laughter or tears, will help make your message easier to understand and more memorable.

A business presentation will always contain the fact and figures that help decision makers make the right call. But using stories can cement the business presentation and make it personal. Use the value of stories to help you connect, communicate and contribute to your next business audience.