Mar 23, 2015

Importance of Telling a Story in Presentations

This is a guest post by Jessica. She has written a post before as well.


It takes a lot of effort to create a presentation that captures the attention of your audience and makes them stay with you until the end of it. One of the most effective ways to connect with your audience while making a presentation is by telling them a story through it.

Why tell a story?
Who doesn't like a good story? Be it in the form of a good book, a movie or even your friends sharing anecdotes; as humans, we relate to stories more than we do to mere numbers. Research says that evolution has wired us to pay more attention to stories. Every time we listen to a story, our brains instinctively become more active. A simple cause and effect story does a lot to awaken our interest and make us think. Using stories in your presentations will also make your presentation more engaging and memorable. Also note that optimisitic stories are more powerful in evoking emotions and inspiring action.

How can you make your story interesting?
No matter what your objective is, you will fail to achive it unless you manage to grasp your audience's attention. You cannot move your audience into action if you don't inspire them. 

Here's how you can tell a compelling story through your presentation:

Establish an emotional connect with the audience
It is important that you build your story to elicit emotions from your audience. You need to treat your story as a person. Give it a character, a style and dress it up a little bit to make it attractive. The selection of words also matters. There are neutral words and then there are words that emote. For example, instead of using a word like tasty, use words like delicious, flavorsome, scrumptious and succulent.  Another way of evoking emotions would be to use visual aids to support your story. An image of damaged lungs makes more impact on a viewer, than simply telling them that smoking is harmful.

You will also need to focus on improving your vocal delivery. You must feel what you mean to convey. For instance, lower your voice when your talking to something worrisome, or speak loudly to express anger; quicken your pace of speech when you want to create excitement.

Keep your story simple
You need to make sure that you keep the story simple. Avoid complex story lines and sub-plots. If you lose focus and ramble on, you'll leave your audience confused. You must always stay focused on the subject at hand during a presentation.

Share a story that is relatable
It is imperative that you do your homework before you make a presentation. You simply must know who your audience will be. Once you know that, it becomes easy to create and tell a story that they can relate to. As an example if your presentation is about blogging, tell them stories and experiences of your own and that of other bloggers.

Use humor
Almost any presentation can be made better with a touch of humor. It helps create feelings of surprise and joy in people who are listening to you. These feelings in turn help in creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. By sharing a laugh with the audience you can make sure that they're having fun and if they are having fun, they will be happy to listen to you. Humor is the magic ingredient that will make sure that you have their undivided attention. 

Jessica has a keen interest in social media and content marketing, and writes extensively about it. She represents Godot Media, a leading content marketing firm.