Telling your story (part 1)

Some days ago in the SlideShare Digest featured an article on storytelling – by the way if you do not have an account on slideshare.net, open one, this is one of the best social networks to get concrete ideas with full presentations, and share yours!

Storytelling has been around for centuries, if not since the beginning of mankind. A story has always been a great way to deliver a message. In childhood, fairy tales are a good way to forge character and teach positive behaviors. In adulthood, knowing stories of others who went through the same challenges you experience helps find solutions. In the corporate world, stories are one of the tools you can use to communicate and convey your ideas in a powerful way.

Of course, not every story is suitable for the corporate environment. Telling your grand-mother bedtime stories to your board may not be helpful. However, you can apply the storytelling techniques to every corporate presentation and use the storytelling framework to your advantage.

But before going further, I want to differentiate stories and storytelling. Stories are a great way to make a point, to clarify a complex idea, to bring some levity into a serious meeting, and overall to increase retention of information and impact of your presentation. But telling a story is different from using storytelling techniques to build and deliver a presentation.

My purpose here is to walk away from the classical and boring bulleted PowerPoint presentation that anybody can create, to enter the realm of top presentation performers. Those you listen to with deep fascination and that you would follow blindly: the Steve Jobs, the Robin Sharmas and the likes.

A unique presentation is generally created with storytelling embedded, and it’s not that difficult. It may require some extra work at the beginning, but it will soon become a second nature. Every good story is articulating into five main parts:

  1. Grab the attention
  2. Set the scene
  3. Relate to your audience
  4. Increase tension
  5. Deliver results

Fairly simple (remember, not easy, but simple)! Generally, we tend to go directly to the results or the actions that we want our audience to undertake. This is a big mistake. You need to help your audience along the way. If the story is correctly told, they will come to the conclusion by themselves and the fifth point will be “natural”.

So get ready for a new way to deliver your presentation. In a next post, we will go into the details of how to grab attention at the beginning of your presentation. A key point, since you have only one attempt to make a great (or bad) first impression!

3 thoughts on “Telling your story (part 1)

  1. Absolutely fantastic article Marc !

    While fully agreeing on the five main points, don’t you think that impactful story telling is also about refering to something that happened to you, something with which you are acquainted, something that you lived (might be in your personal or profesional life), so that your story telling becomes a “natural reflex” using these experiences as the building blocks.

  2. Sharing your personal stories in my opinion is the most effective form of storytelling. This is what turned Joyce Meyer into a global phenomenon.

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