How to tell an effective story during your presentation

Guest post by Alan Barclay, Managing Director, Companyapp.

For centuries, storytelling has always been an effective method of sharing views and bringing ideas to life. This also applies in the corporate environment when it comes to giving an effective presentation. Showcasing a product or service with generic bullet points or graphs just isn’t exciting or engaging enough for today’s modern audience.

Just think of Steve Jobs, one of the world’s greatest corporate storytellers. He managed to create a compelling and memorable narrative with every single product launch, never failing to capture his audience’s attention.

So how did he do it? Alongside using a modern presentation tool, here are several tips for you to tell an effective story during your next presentation:

Create a compelling visual journey

The main elements of storytelling in presentations are:

  1. set the scene with a main character (a person, object or concept),
  2. an opposing force (what their problem is),
  3. The journey (how they solved their problem)
  4. a clear conclusion.

You want to hook the audience in – right from the very beginning – with a range of visually engaging slides that evoke emotion. By the end of your story, the goal is to build a genuine, trusting relationship with your audience, where they believe that you can solve their problem.

According to presentation expert Nancy Duarte on how to ‘Structure Your Presentation Like a Story’, effective presenters use the same techniques as great storytellers:

“By reminding people of the status quo and then revealing the path to a better way, they set up a conflict that needs to be resolved… And by following Aristotle’s three-part story structure (beginning, middle, end), they create a message that’s easy to digest, remember, and retell.”

Utilise the power of video

When presenting your brand, use digital presentation tools – that include video – creates an impactful brand story  – which is necessary to cut through the noise and instantly engage customers.

It’s a well known fact that the importance of video marketing has been on the rise. Adelie Studios has stated that, “70% of marketers claim video produces more conversions than any other content.”

Including a relevant and insightful video to compliment your story is a powerful method to describe your offering, bring your brand to life and connect with your audience. Especially when you have a time limit.

According to Animato, “80% of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important when learning about the company.”

Understand your audience

It’s important to tailor your presentation for different audiences. For example, they may be a group of CEO’s with a wealth of experience, more technical employees or creative professionals. A more effective story is one that is personalised for the audience in front of you.

You first need to think of your desired end result before planning your story. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want your audience to understand by the end of your presentation?
  • How do you want to make them feel or react?
  • Is there a specific action you want them to make?

Choosing appropriate photography, visual aids and interactive elements to backup your story will increase the chance of creating a compelling call-to-action at the end of your presentation.

Alan Barclay is Managing Director of Companyapp who’s core product – Presenter – is a powerful & flexible sales presentation app & software suite. Companyapp works with international clients including Carlson Rezidor, Johnson & Johnson, Mazars & Omnicom.

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