Stories for Better Business Presentations

Tell a story, make a point. Tell a story, make a point. The founder of the National Speakers association, Bill Gove, is famous for this phrase he used to break down the art of making speeches for professional speakers. Whilst he delivered the advice to professional speakers, the advice still rings true for anybody giving a speech or presentation in any situation.

In offices, managers and sales professionals are relying on dry facts and statistics to make their point. And yes facts and stats are important, but they are boring! If you want to persuade, motivate, or educate your audience you need to illustrate your points in a way that connects with your audience at an emotional level. And, there are few better ways to do this than with a well told story.

A good story, one that illustrates your message so people remember what you said, and why you said it has several elements.

Purpose

Why are you telling the story? That may seem slightly confronting when I’m writing an article encouraging you to use more stories. But, I want you to use stories to make your presentations more effective. And, any stories you use must have a purpose that is relevant to the point you are trying to make. Telling a story, for the stories sake will only upset your audience. Your time is limited, and their time is precious so don’t waste it with irrelevant anecdotes. Instead examine the point you need to reinforce and ensure the story illustrates it appropriately. If it doesn’t – ditch the story and find another!

Real Life Experience

There may be a temptation to use a story that you’ve read. If you’ve read the story on the net or in a book, there’s a very real chance that your audience has read it too. This diminishes your effectiveness, and will damage your credibility. There is no reason to “borrow” a story. Look around your business or look back through your past experience and you’ll find plenty of experiences that you can recount to your audience that will illustrate the points you want to make.

Setting

Tell the audience and they may understand what you are saying; involve the audience and they will remember what you’ve said. Every story has a setting; it could be a situation, an office, or an activity. No matter what the setting if you can describe the setting and bring the audience into the scene with you. One of my mentors, Craig Valentine, is a master at this. He uses all of the audiences’ senses to bring them into his stories to great effect. The more you involve and immerse your audiences in your stories, the deeper their understanding will be of the point you are making.

Characters

Characters, with their emotions and dialogue bring your stories to life. Your audiences will relate to the situations your characters find themselves in and the emotions your characters convey through the words the characters say. Similar to setting, through your characters you can involve your audience in the story, enabling them to get a better appreciation and understanding of the point you are making.

Utilise stories to make your speeches more effective. If you apply the elements you will see a distinct difference in the audience understanding, and your ability to sell your message or products.