Interesting Presentations – The Key Ingredient Is Storytelling

Published on September 27, 2012 by Annetta Wilson

When you create interesting presentations, you greatly improve your chances of capturing your audience and walking away with valuable connections or a perhaps a business deal. Because many people look at meetings and presentations as events to be endured, it’s important that your presentations break that mold.

One secret ingredient to create interesting presentations is ‘how’ you deliver your information. Most presentations simply list facts, statistics and propositions. It can be a little like listening to someone read a scientific research paper.  If you want your audience to find your presentation (and you) interesting, consider adding stories that make your presentations come to life.

The Power of Storytelling

When your presentations include stories, you connect with your audience on an emotional level. No matter how technical your information may be, you can create interesting presentations using the power of storytelling.

This simple technique adds life to data and statistics. Information has more emotional impact when you put a face on it. Journalists often use this technique. The long-running CBS news program, ’60 Minutes’, often takes a complex issue and tells it through the eyes of one or two people affected by it. They’ve used that formula successfully for almost 40 years. Enough said.

When people are emotionally engaged, they are more likely to respond to you favorably.

Wherever possible, give real examples of how your idea changes lives. Include case studies that create vivid images in the minds of your audience. You are far more likely to donate to a children’s charity when you hear the story and see the photo of a real little boy or girl whose life was saved, than when you read or hear statistical data on the number of children who are helped with your donations.

Stories give life to and create these interesting presentations. Stories have the power to transform data into real-life people. For that to be effective, the story must appeal to the heart and the mind. These questions may help you:

  • What is the audience seeking?
  • What are the key benefits of reaching their goal?
  • How can you translate these benefits into a story?
  • Are there case studies that make your point?
  • Are there images that help tell the story?

Powerful storytelling is a valuable tool in helping you create interesting presentations that engage people instead of boring them.

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3 Responses

  1. Wayne James

    Totally agree Annetta! I've used the informal title of storyteller for years now as it describes not just the real life stories I tell during my presentations but also reflects the overall way I deliver the primary content. Whether the subject is highly technical or more soft skills oriented, framing it as a story with an intro, a plot, & a conclusion helps bring the message to life & greatly improves retention.

    You can ask an attendee to memorise material details or just remember an overall story that will trigger the recollection of details that naturally fall into place within the context of that story. So complex & often boring legislation discussions for example, become an interesting journey that describes how & why laws came about in the first place. Much easier to remember...and its fun!

    To storytelling!

  2. Lorraine Arams

    I think you're right except story telling can go too far. Recently, I attended a seminar/speaking engagement by a world-renown author, trainer and speaker. I can imagine his fees are incredibly high! But . . . after a couple of hours, it dragged - there were so many cartoons and stories, it blurred the information. What I would say is that story telling like powerpoint must be carefully selected to enhance the information, not deter from it. Thank you for your insight - much appreciated!