Telling your story (Part 6) – Deliver Results

“Everything will be alright at the end”. This is one quote from the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. And this is what almost all audiences expect from a good story: a happy ending! To the point where you are, the tension is there. The audience wonders what will come next, they may be scared, but they want you to deliver the expected results.

And the time has come to do it! The biggest trap is to paramount on the tension point and let the soufflé go down. All the cooks know that a soufflé cannot wait. It needs to be eaten very hot, just as it goes outside of the oven! If you have done your job well and have followed the four previous steps:

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

the soufflé is hot and your audience needs to eat it now.

To revert to the examples described in the previous parts, this is the right time to tell your investors how much you want and how much they will make. If you are selling a product, picture the company or the users delivering benefits to their own customers by using your product, and ask for the order through a direct question (a bad salesperson never asks for the order).

And stop! Yes, stop! Do not overdo it! Delivering your results should be five percent or less of the entire presentation. This does not sound natural? That’s true, and it’s because you have done your homework, have prepared well and have followed the magic five steps. Have you ever wondered why a book or a film seems to accelerate at the end? Have you ever noticed that the last chapter is shorter? All this is because the author has “manipulated” you.

I dislike the word manipulation because it has a negative connotation. However a good presenter or a good writer knows how to write a story in a way you wait for the end, do not expect it and are relieved, with this feeling that you knew it would end this way. And by the way, sometimes the end is not happy, but you knew it.

In the business world, we are manipulated every day. I shall say every hour. However, if your intentions are good, your story will be good, your audience will feel this and they will agree on the manipulation. Nobody forces an audience to stay in the room if it feels the speaker is phony.

But if you deliver your results quickly and have followed the previous steps, two things will happen:

  1. You will feel the excitement in the room
  2. The audience will ask positive open questions

Do not feel challenged. Answer with short and precise statements, and shut up. The tension has fallen on your shoulders, since you expect an answer to your grand finale, but you should not let that show, and continue smiling. And you know what will happen? Everything will be alright at the end!

Telling your story (Part 5) – Increase the tension

This is the turning point of your story. You know the moment when anything can happen, good or bad. It’s the moment when the hero can die and the bad guy can win. It’s the moment when you bite your nails or lip, when you girlfriend squeezes your arm, when you close your eyes and hold your breath. The moment of truth!

In movies and good stories, the inflexion point is the result of an almost scientific series of events, put one after the other like the steps of a staircase, to increase the tension. If you have built your stories based on the previous articles, you have grabbed the attention of your audience, you have set the scene with the good and the bad guys, and you have made sure you relate to the people in the room. In most cases, you are now able to guide them where you want, and you can now play with their emotion.

Emotions are the strongest drivers of human behavior, use them. If you are selling a product, you want your prospects to feel the lack of your product, so they will come to the natural conclusion they need it. If you are looking for capital to fund your company, you want your potential investor to feel this is the opportunity of the year and if they do not jump into it, they will not be able to win as much as they would.

However, saying it is not enough, you have to build the story so that it becomes an obvious truth in your audience’s mind. Stay calm, there is a simple magic formula to build the tension: step, obstacle, step, obstacle, step, and obstacle. This pair, step, obstacle, at least three times. Do not make it much longer though. What your audience wants to know is how you overcame the challenges that life threw at you.

The different steps do not need to be in chronological order. The importance is the obstacles seem more and more insurmountable. Let’s explore the capital seeking example. What you want to tell is while you were operating the company, you got an issue with product quality that brought you almost bankrupt. Explain what you did to you went up again. Then, go onto the large customer who did not pay you and closed its business leaving your cash flow in a terrible situation. Finally, go with the competitor who stole some of your ideas and created a pale copy of your products that left you with the duty to innovate more and faster.

You see the idea. In the case of selling a product to a customer or an idea to your team, walk them through last year’s or other customers’ successes, one after the other, and how you delivered those. Show you can be trusted, that your experience has helped to build a stronger you. Once the tension is at its peak, then you can deliver the results and bring the smile back to your audience. This will be our next week final topic.

Telling your story (Part 3) – Set the scene

You started your presentation with a strong opening that caught your audience attention. Let’s now move to the second part, setting the scene!  In all the stories, the first part presents the good guy, the bad guy and the environment. This is this exact framework that a good presenter should use.

People love normality… with a twist. For instance:  Snow White (great re-interpretation with the movie Mirror, mirror), Spiderman and Star Wars. In each of these stories, the hero is a normal guy. Snow White is a young girl, although a princess, with a huge heart: she loves people and people love her. Peter Parker is a high school student, and orphan, living what seems a normal life before being bitten by a radioactive spider. Luke Skywalker is another orphan raised by his uncle and aunt, and acts as a normal young adult. In all cases, each of us could be one of these people. This is the good guy, you!

Time to define the environment in which you operate. If you present your business plan to investors or venture capitalists, after your opening, define the environment in which your company is operating. If you present a new project to the management team, start with explaining where you are before the beginning of the project. If you present your yearly results to the board of the company, remind the members the state of the market and of your department at the beginning of the fiscal period. In a fiction story, setting the scene allows to present the situation and the atmosphere of the plot.

Let’s not forget the bad guys. In business terms, competition! Let’s be clear, there are no good stories without bad guys, as well no sound business without competition. What would be Snow White without the Queen? What would be Spiderman without the Green Goblin? What would be Luke Skywalker without Darth Vader? In business, what would be Microsoft without Google or Apple? What would be Mercedes without BMW? What would be Nike without Adidas or Reebok? Competition is crucial, because it will the base of the tension necessary to deliver a great story (this will be covered in the fifth part of the series).

You may say that if you are to present a project to your management, there is no competition. Although this may vary (think for example of your project related to others if you want to attract more budget or resources), you will want to position early the challenges you will face. Understanding this will not be a cup of tea and being realistic is key to a compelling story.

At that time within your presentation, your audience should be all eyes and ears. There comes the time to bring them back in and answer the decisive question: WIIFM, What’s In It For Me? This will be next week topic.

Telling your story (Part 2) – Grab the attention

Zucchini noseYou have only one occasion to make a first impression! If your opening is weak, you have already lost most of the audience and you will battle to get it back. On the opposite, if you strike the audience at the beginning, you can take them by the hand and lead them through your path.

There are way many ways to grab the attention of your audience. If you are using a computer, you can start with a picture, a single word, a quote or a provocative question. Let’s imagine you are looking for investors for your new company. Your first slide could be a fake picture of your stock price on the ticker at Wall Street. Or it could be a picture of the business award you received three years ago for another company you created or managed.

In the same vein, it could be a question that you project: where will you be in five years from now? Every person in the audience has an answer to this question, but you can start by telling them your version of where you see them and you.

There are traps though, and big no-nos! The first one is unfortunately one of the most used and is lame. The speaker starts with “Good morning” (replace morning by afternoon or evening depending on the time of the day) and repeat “Good morning”. Then goes into: “Hmm, you does not seem waken up, I said good morning!” while increasing her voice. She wants you to answer her good morning by good morning. Do not ever do that! It is lame and there are high risks that you will irritate the audience.

The second one is making fun of the audience or using cultural, religious or political jokes. You may shock your addressees and they will get a leave a very bad impression. The third and final is to excuse or depreciate yourself. The famous: “I am a new here and I apologize for not having prepared enough for this meeting”. Wow! The best way to soap on the board.

There is only one good way to start until you are ready for prime time and can take risks: Take a deep breath, smile and start with a dynamic “good morning, I am very happy to be with you today for…(give the purpose of your presentation in one short sentence)”, then pause for a second, look at some people in the eye and start your story.

Your attention grabbing piece should be personal and should speak to your audience. The most important part actually is that you are not making a speech or a presentation for you. You make it for your listeners. You will not tell the same story to investors from Wall Street and to teenagers. So adapt! The first minute is crucial. If you have caught their attention, half the job is done and we will continue next week with setting the scene.

And oh, one last thing, if you are using technology (computer, projector, clicker, etc.), ensure all works well before starting, nothing worse than seeing a presenter battling with his computer in front of everybody. Be professional, get to the room ahead of time and set everything up. Even if it involves waking up one or two hours earlier.

Mettez vos histoires en images Picture your stories

Permettez-moi de commencer clairement : PowerPoint tue la créativité ! C’est le pire des outils pour faire des présentations, car elles se ressemblent toutes et ne génèrent que des bâillements. Cependant, avec les bonnes compétences, PowerPoint est le meilleur des outils car il vous aide à créer des présentations géniales en quelques minutes. A vous de choisir entre le pire et le meilleur !

Il y a quelques années (au siècle dernier), j’ai commencé ma carrière en formant les utilisateurs sur des logiciels de présentation comme Harvard Graphics (les fondus d’informatiques se souviendront), avant l’apparition et la diffusion de PowerPoint. Un des conseils que je donnais alors était de ne pas utiliser plus de sept mots par phrase et pas plus de cinq lignes de texte par diapositive. Aujourd’hui, je raccourcis à sept mots maximum par diapositive !

Vous savez ce qui tue le plus l’attention de l’audience ? Les listes à puces ! Allez sur, parcourez les meilleures présentations et cherchez les listes à puces. Vous n’en trouverez pas ! Comme j’ai lu dans une présentation sur la conception des présentations de Steve Jobs, les puces sont pour les chiens, pas pour les diapositives ! Séparez-vous-en !

Les diapositives vous aident à raconter une histoire

Une série de diapositive n’est pas faite pour donner des détails, mais pour fournir un support à votre histoire. Si vous avez besoin de partager des chiffres ou des détails, créez un document annexe que vous distribuerez à la fin de votre présentation. Quand vous racontez une histoire à vos enfants/neveux/cousins/amis, la meilleure façon de la rendre vivante est de créer des images colorées. Il en va de même avec vos présentations.

Une image vaut mille mots, dit-on. Mais pourquoi s’en sert-on donc si peu ? Parce que nous sommes paresseux et que la diapositive par défaut dans PowerPoint est celle des listes à puces. Débarrassez-vous de cette diapositive et adoptez comme diapo par défaut celle avec un titre seulement. Vous n’aurez besoin que de quelques mots, mais de beaucoup d’images et surtout d’un script.

Même la Guerre des Étoiles a commencé sur le papier!

Croyez-vous que Steven Spielberg à commencer à filmer la Guerre des Étoiles de mémoire ? Non ! Il a écrit un script très détaillé. Si vous voulez faire comme les pros, oubliez votre ordinateur et commencez sur papier. Écrivez votre script en vous servant des techniques de « storytelling » (référez-vous aux précédents articles de mon blog sur le sujet, disponibles sur Une fois le script écrit, testez-le en racontant votre histoire face à votre miroir, puis coupez, coupez, coupez. 99% des présentations sont trop longues. Si vous savez que vous aurez 30 minutes, préparez-vous pour 20. Cela ne nécessitera qu’une dizaine de diapositives maximum.

Cherchez les images adéquates

Une fois armé de votre script, vous pouvez créer votre trame dans votre logiciel et partir à la recherche d’images. Il existe des millions d’images libres de droit sur internet, particulièrement celles sous la licence Open Source Creative Commons (ne piratez pas les images, respectez le copyright). Faites attention à n’utiliser que des images en haute définition (au moins la définition de votre écran) pour éviter la pixellisation (vous savez ces petits points, les pixels, qui deviennent des carrés si vous zoomez), et montrer votre professionnalisme.

En conclusion, je vous invite à aller sur, à vous abonner à leur newsletter et à vous inspirer des incroyables présentations que vous y trouverez ! Cependant, si vous êtes sérieux dans votre quête d’amélioration de vos techniques de présentateur, rejoignez un club Toastmasters près de chez-vous.Let me start with a clear point: PowerPoint is a creativity killer! It’s the worst tool to do presentation, because all presentations look alike and only generate yawning. However, with the right knowledge PowerPoint is the best presentation tool because it helps you create a compelling presentation in a matter of minutes. So, your choice for the worst or the best!

I started my career, years ago (that was last century, no kidding), by teaching people how to use presentation software like Harvard Graphics (nerds will remember), before PowerPoint came to life and became a common noun. One of the key advices I was giving then was to use less than 7 words per sentence and less than 5 lines of text in a slide. Today, I shorten this to less than 7 words for the whole slide!

Do you know what kills most attention: bullet points! Go to, browse the best presentations and look for bullet points. There are none! As I read in a great presentation about how to design slides like Steve Jobs, bullets are for guns, not for slides. So get rid of bullet points!

Slides help you tell a story

A slide deck is not a medium to give details, it’s a support to tell a story. If you need to share numbers and details, create a side document that will be distributed at the end of your presentation. Remember when you are telling stories to your kids/nephews/cousins/friends, the best way to make your story lively is to create vivid images. It’s the same with slides.

A picture is worth a thousand words. We all know this adage, but why is it so little used when it comes to PowerPoint? Because we are lazy and because the default slide in PowerPoint is a bullet point slide. So as I said, get rid of the bullet points and make the title-only slide your default slide. You will need only a few words, but tons of images, and of course, a script.

Even Star Wars started on paper!

Do you think Steven Spielberg started to shoot Star Wars from his mind? No! He wrote a very detailed script. So do like the pro, start on paper, forget your computer! Write your script using storytelling techniques (refer to previous articles on storytelling, if you do not have them on paper, you will find online on my blog Once you have your script, test it, telling your story in front of your mirror, and cut, cut, cut… the shorter the better. 99% of slideware is overtime! If you know you will have a 30-minute slot, prepare for 20 minutes. And this will probably require less than 10 slides!

Look for meaningful pictures

Once you have your script, you can create your outline with your presentation software and look for images. There thousands royalty free pictures on the web, particularly those under the Creative Commons Open Source licensing scheme (do not pirate pictures, respect the copyright). However, pay attention to always use high definition pictures (at least the definition of your screen) to avoid pixelisation (you know those little dots – picture elements, pixels – that become squares if you zoom in) and convey a professional image!

In closing, go to, subscribe to the newsletter and get inspired by incredible presentations! However, if you want to seriously polish your presentation skills, join a Toastmasters club!

Clair, précis, concis – Be brief, be bright, be gone

Vous êtes-vous trouvé dans une réunion à devoir prendre la parole sur un sujet donné, mais avez ressenti l’impression de ne pas être très bien compris ? Cela nous est tous arrivé ! La clef d’une bonne communication orale tient dans ces trois adjectifs: clair, précis, concis. En d’autres termes, soyez bref, montrez que vous avez réfléchi et préparé votre intervention, puis taisez-vous !

Plus facile à dire qu’à faire, particulièrement parce que la communication dépend de plusieurs facteurs. Il ne s’agit pas de juste délivrer un message, mais de l’adapter à votre audience et au contexte, et de le faire le plus précisément et rapidement possible.


Commencez par regarder votre audience. Comprenez qui est dans la salle, qui sont ceux que vous allez devoir convaincre, à qui vous allez vendre vos idées, dont vous devez capter l’attention. Vous ne parlez pas à votre PDG comme à votre conjoint (sauf si c’est votre PDG, mais c’est alors une histoire de famille) ou à vos enfants. Les mots, le ton, la conviction seront différents. Il s’agit pourtant du point le plus souvent oublié de la prise de parole en public. Regardez votre audience et adaptez votre message.


En anglais, nous dirions Keep It Simple, Stupid, soit Faites simple mon grand! Vous n’impressionnerez personne avec votre jargon ou vos mots recherchés. Servez-vous de mots simples, faites des phrases courtes et directes. Ne vous baladez pas, le plus court est le plus efficace, alors coupez, coupez, coupez. Plus vous ferez court, plus vous montrerez votre capacité à synthétiser. Comme l’a dit Boileau, ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement, et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément!

Restez cependant souple. Vous pouvez être ferme et souple à la fois. Rien de bon ne sort d’une confrontation. Un de mes mentors m’a appris à toujours laisser la partie adverse venir vers moi, avant de retourner vers elle, créant ainsi une dance verbale ouvrant au dialogue !


Une fois votre thèse exposée, résumez-la en trois courtes phrases. Pourquoi trois ? Parce que c’est un nombre magique ! Souvenez-vous les techniques de storytelling, il n’y a que trois scènes d’action dans les films de James Bond. Trois est le nombre jusqu’auquel vous compterez et le nombre jusqu’auquel compter sera trois (les fans de Monty Python sauront de quoi je parle). En résumant, vous enfoncez les idées dans la tête de vos interlocuteurs.


Si vous avez été clair, précis et concis, inutile d’en rajouter! Les pires orateurs ne savent généralement pas s’arrêter. En stoppant après votre résumé, vous forcez l’audience à réfléchir et possiblement à vous répondre. Et vous connaissez ce qu’on dit : celui qui brise le silence perd ! Non pas qu’il y ait quoi que ce soit à perdre, mais vous garantissez que votre thèse aura été bien entendue !


Ever been in a meeting and had to speak about some topics, but felt you were not understood correctly? This has happened to all of us. The key in oral communication fits in this well know sentence: be brief, be bright, be gone. In other words: go to the point quickly and clearly, show you put some thoughts and know your topic, then shut up!

Easier said than done! Partly because communication depends on multiple factors, and is not about just delivering a message but adapting your message to your audience and context. I have come with a simple methods for the 3 Bs, that I called the 5 Ss: Snoop, Simple, Supple, Summarize, and Shine.


Watch your audience, understand who is there, who you will have to convince/sell to/get attention from. You do not talk to your CEO as you talk to your spouse (except if he’s your CEO, but this is family business) or to your kids. The words, the tone, the conviction may be different. It’s probably the most forgotten point of public speaking, snoop the audience and adapt.


Keep It Simple, Stupid! KISS your audience with your message. Nobody’s impressed by jargon or clever words. Use simple worlds, and short sentences, to the point. Do not mingle, do not wander, cut, cut, cut! The shorter the better, this shows you know how to synthesize!


Be convincing by standing firm on your legs, while being flexible. There is nothing good in a strong argument. One of my mentors taught me that if you let the other come to you and you go to the other, you start to dance, and this creates the dialogue. Firm does not me inflexible!


Once you made your point, summarize it in three short sentences. Why three? Because it’s a magical number! Remember storytelling techniques, there are only three action scenes in a James Bond movie! Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three (the fans of Monty Python will know what I am talking about). By summarizing, you nail your ideas in the brain of your audience.


I could have said Shut up for the fifth S, but Shine fits better with the third B. If you have been brief and bright, and if you shut up, you will shine! No matter what. The worst speakers do not know how to stop and should be interrupted. By stopping, you force thinking, I should say you impose thinking, and wait for an answer. And you know the drill: the one who breaks the silence loses! Not that there is something to lose in all situation, but at least your point will have been made.

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, 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!

La simplicité est la sophistication extrême

« Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher ». Cette citation d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, extraite de L’avion, décrit le summum de la simplicité. Tout comme le titre de ce post qui est attribué au grand Léonard de Vinci.

La beauté se trouve dans la simplicité. Si vous aimez les beaux objets ou l’architecture, vous conviendrez que la simplicité est belle, mais qu’elle nécessite une grande maitrise. Prenez une chaise dessinée par Philippe Stark ou le musée Guggenheim, désigné par Frank Lloyd Wright. Vous ne pouvez pas ne pas être surpris par leur design et leur simplicité. Cependant, il a fallu 15 ans, 700 croquis et 6 jeux de plans pour créer le musée Guggenheim. Un énorme travail !

La plupart de nos vies sont remplis d’objets, de gens et d’occupations inutiles. Je peux vous sembler provoquant en disant ceci. Nous vivons tous des vies de plus en plus actives, mais sont-elles plus satisfaisantes pour autant ? Regardez ce que vous faites tous les jours et demandez-vous si cela vous satisfait ? Qu’arriverait-il si vous décidiez de vous débarrasser du superflu pour ne garder que l’essentiel ?

Pareto est la règle

Vous connaissez peut-être la loi dite de Pareto, aussi connu comme le principe du 80-20. Celui-ci indique que 80% des effets sont engendrés par 20% des causes. Par exemple, 80% des ventes proviennent de 20% des clients, ou 80% des résultats proviennent de 20% de vos efforts. Ceci s’applique à tout. Le ratio varie parfois, mais la règle reste la même. Nous pouvons suivre ce principe dans nos vies quotidiennes.

La moelle est à l’intérieur de l’os

Si vous aimez la moelle, vous devrez coupez l’os en deux. Vous devez aller tout au fond, enlevant la chaire. Vous ne pouvez pas manger la moelle si vous vous contentez de la peau. Pensez à votre travail, vos relations, votre maison, votre famille, vos amis, votre jardin… Pensez à ce que vous devrez supprimer pour arriver à la moelle.

Nous avons tendance à compliquer les choses parce que nous ne sommes pas clairs dans nos têtes. Quand vous simplifiez, enlevez les couches inutiles, et finissez par arriver à l’os, vous pouvez envisager la moelle, le trésor caché !

La simplicité rend la vie facile

La meilleure façon de simplifier est de se débarrasser des choses. Par exemple, si vous vous achetez une nouvelle chemise, débarrassez-vous d’une ancienne. N’accumulez rien. La simplicité consiste à garder les choses « maigres ». La prochaine fois que vous avez à faire un discours, créer une présentation PowerPoint ou écrire un rapport, ajoutez un résumé de quelques phrases au tout début. Pour chaque information que vous ajoutez à votre document/discours, posez-vous la question suivante : si cette information devait disparaitre, mon document serait-il toujours compréhensible ? Si la réponse est oui, supprimez-là ! Ne soyez pas timide, supprimez, supprimez, supprimez, jusqu’à arriver à l’os et pouvoir vous délecter de la moelle.

TEDx Talk à MauriceTEDx Talk in Mauritius

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Il y a six mois, je recevais un courriel me proposant de faire un TEDx Talk pour l’événement inaugural de TEDx à Maurice. Non seulement, je ne pouvais refuser une telle offre, mais c’était un rêve devenu réalité. Le chemin a été semé de difficultés, mais après une annulation et un volume non déclaré de sueur, le TEDx Plaine Wilhems a eu lieu le 31 janvier à Bagatelle. Je reviendrais sur les leçons de TEDx, en attendant, vous pouvez accéder à mon Talk directement ici (en anglais).428255_403511176397509_647801335_n WP_000462

Six month ago, I was receiving an email proposing me to deliver a TEDx Talk during the first TEDx event in Mauritius. Not only, I could not say no to such an offer, but it was, for me a dream becoming reality. The journey was full of hurdles, but after one cancellation and an undisclosed volume of sweat, the TEDx Plaine Wilhems event took place on January 31 in Bagatelle. I will come back on the lessons learned during the preparation of this talk, and you can access to my TEDx talk here.