by Adam Noar
Being a good storyteller is extremely important when it comes to giving presentations.
Whether it’s a movie, a good book, or simply one of our friends is explaining something … EVERYONE gets touched by stories.
But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear information in the form of a story vs. bullet points about facts and figures?
Well, it turns out that you and I are actually WIRED for listening to stories.
It makes sense considering humans have been telling stories for the past 27,000 years (since the first cave paintings were discovered).
Furthermore, research now shows that when we’re listening to a story, OUR BRAIN ACTUALLY BECOMES MORE ACTIVE.
A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is simply a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how people think.
We actually make up (short) stories in our heads for EVERY action and conversation.
So the question is … If we know that EVERYONE loves listening to stories how to we apply that to becoming a better storyteller during our presentations?
Well, here I’m going to show you 6 presentation tips that will transform YOU into a better storyteller.
1. Learn How To Tell A Story By Watching TED Talks
The best way to learn how to tell a story is to learn from people who are already good at telling them.
One of the best places to hear great storytellers is TED.com
TED.com brings together the best presenters in the world to share their story for FREE. More than 1500 TED Talks are now available, with more added each week
You can sign up for their newsletter and get email updates when new presentations come out.
2. Use Images To Enhance Your Story
PowerPoint presentations are actually not that different from the cave paintings from 27,000 years ago. Sure, they didn’t have the computers and fancy presentation software back then. However, they still made use of images to enhance their storytelling.
With words alone you can paint something in someone’s mind, but exactly what will remain a mystery.
Your audience can attempt to see the image you are painting, but in doing so they must call upon the imagery currently stored in their heads, based upon their past experiences.
Thus, THEIR understanding may or may not look anything like what you see in YOUR mind.
This is where PowerPoint or other presentation software can come in handy.
Note: While images can be a powerful tool for telling your story, make sure to stay away from complicated graphics. You don’t want your audience spending their time trying to figure out some complicated illustration/graphic you put together.
Instead, consider using a single image combined with some simple but emotional text to help convey your message. Or, sometimes an even better choice is to project images with no text at all.
Here is great example from one of the industry leaders on presentation design (and expert storyteller) Garr Reynolds.
As you can see from the video, Garr immerses you into his story about bamboo and Japanese culture by showing captivating images and simple quotes on screen during his presentation.
It’s important to note that many of the images shown in the presentation were Garr’s PERSONAL images that he took with his own camera (as opposed to stock images from the internet). Doing this created another layer of personality to his presentation.
3. Start Your Story With A Bang
When you start telling a story, do you begin with boring miscellaneous details?
Don’t be surprised if people quickly tune out if you don’t hook them right away.
The best way to engage your listener is to provide a hook that makes them want to find out more.
For example, if I was giving a presentation about “PowerPoint Presentation Tips” I might start off the presentation by saying something like …
“Everything you know about presentation design is wrong”
“Did you know that 90% of PowerPoint presentations are forgotten within 24 hours?”
You get the idea.
Your goal is to get the audience to believe that your story is going to go somewhere, and what you have to say will be worth their time.
4. Introduce Conflict And Then Resolve It
There are three basic guidelines you can follow when crafting your story:
1) Introduce the conflict. The most important element of a story is conflict. Conflict is dramatic. Story is about an imbalance and opposing forces or a problem that must be worked out. When you talk about how you struggled with something, the audience is engaged with you and your material.
2) Provide the causes of the problem. (Give meaningful examples of the conflict surrounding the problem.)
3) Resolution. Show HOW and WHY you solved the problem.
There’s not really much more to it.
If you can follow this basic structure, you will be way ahead of most presenters who simply recall talking points and read bullet points of information.
Audiences tend to forget lists and bullet points, but good stories get implanted permanently into people’s minds.
5. Show Don’t Tell
When I was in college the best creative writing advice I’ve ever received was “show, don’t tell”
For example, imagine that you’re telling a story about your back pain …
Don’t just tell the reader that your back was hurting. Describe your back pain visually!
When describing things make sure to use plenty of power words like:
Again, going back to tip #3, when you’re describing your story you can incorporate some powerful PowerPoint images to help paint a clear picture of your message.
6. Keep Your Story Concise
There is nothing worse than listening to someone ramble on with a story that seems to have no end and no point.
If you tell these types of never-ending stories, you might soon find your audience quickly loosing attention.
The best way to keep your audience paying attention is to stick to the important details and make your story as concise as possible. No Fluff.
Presentation greatness exists in QUALITY, not quantity.
Being a good storyteller is one of the best ways to get your points across to an audience. Regardless of whether you know how to tell a story or not, you can learn the process and put together presentations that will keep everyone in the room from falling asleep.
Mastering the art of how to tell a story will greatly enhance your presentation skills and improve the chance of your presentations message being received by your audience.
Here’s my question for you …
Now that you have learned about the importance of storytelling in your presentations, do you think that you try implementing these presentation tips? Why or why not?
Please try to be as specific as possible.
Also, do you have a friend that is currently doing a presentation and could benefit from learning how to tell a story? If so, send them a link to this article by using the sharing buttons below.
Finally, if you found these presentation tips helpful. Please remember to like and share using the share buttons to the left!
Special thanks to GlacierTim for the cover photo background