May 2024 Edition
Talking Points

The Best Presenters Tell Stories

Good presenters all possess a number of similar skills. They make direct eye contact. They speak clearly. And they use a cadence that holds their audiences’ attention. But the best presenters do something different. They tell stories. Understanding the difference between presenting and storytelling helps you engage your audience and inspire them to act. Unfortunately, presentation software can often get in the way. With that in mind, here are five ways you can use slides to support your stories, rather than dominating your presentations.

Devise your story before you open PowerPoint

Try this three-step process. First, think through, and write down, the elements of your story from the beginning to the end. Next, visualize each of your main concepts by “storyboarding” your idea. Finally, assemble the assets that will bring your story to life, such as videos, animations, graphics, and photos.

Tell your story with images

Presenters use text. Storytellers love pictures. Researchers determined that audiences recall only 10% of the content they hear. That number increases to 65% if they see an accompanying picture. A combination of images and words communicates your story far more effectively than words can do on their own.

Give your data meaning

Data is abstract until it’s put into context that people can understand. Once you humanize that data by explaining how the numbers impact people, it becomes more meaningful. The next time you have large datasets to present, try incorporating people, or characters, to add story to your numbers.

Surprise your audience

Most PowerPoints are boring because they’re predictable. A good story, however, has the element of surprise. The human brain pays attention to twists, turns, and unexpected events. Our brain perks up when we detect something that breaks a pattern. If you surprise your audience, they’ll remember your story.

Remember, you’re on stage

Most business presentations are forgettable because speakers forget they’re performing. A great presentation informs, inspires, engages, and entertains. In other words, it’s part performance and should be rehearsed like one. Don’t just flip through your slides to prepare. Practice out loud and on your feet.

When you present like a storyteller, your presentation takes on a whole new life. So, use these five tips the next time you put a slide deck together.

Based on a What the Best Presenters Do Differently by Carmine Gallo..

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