Storytelling in Presentations – Connect with Your Audience’s Emotional Response!
PowerPoint presentations have become an indispensable part of business life. It can be challenging, however, to keep the audience interested in your topic, meaning less of a chance of convincing them of your ideas.
If a presentation consists mainly of text, even the most innovative product idea can quickly lose the audience’s attention. Incorporating visually appealing aspects is a great way to get your audience on board! This is where storytelling in presentations, which can be used to enhance presentations in a modern and creative way, can help.
Even if you’re only familiar with storytelling in the context of news items, good stories are part of our everyday lives. We all have moments which are exciting, funny, annoying, sad or just plain odd – but the common thread is that they are interesting. So why not include that interesting story in your presentation?
What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is just that – telling stories. Incorporating storytelling into your PowerPoint presentations is a great way to convey information to your audience in a way that engages them and so excites more interest in your ideas or products.
The future of Presenting
In our sophisticated environment of smart devices and artificial intelligence, it’s easy to think that we don’t have a lot in common with our Stone Age ancestors. However, it’s not such a great leap from mammoth hunt to management floor as many might think.
Whether, when, where and why sales have risen or fallen may be very relevant to us, but our brains are still wired to prioritize knowing the fastest way to kill the mammoth or how to escape the saber-toothed tiger. This is where storytelling comes in! A good narrative engages the deeper parts of our brains, and elicits an emotional response in your audience, which allows people to connect better with your message, meaning they are more likely to be convinced by what you’re offering.
So how do I go about Finding Interesting Stories for Storytelling?
Finding a good story to integrate into your presentation isn’t as hard as you may think.Perhaps, as mentioned above, something may have happened to you in everyday life which can be woven into your presentations. You can try out such anecdotes with friends or colleagues to see if they’re a good fit with your presentation topic.
Stories aren’t just the result of the situations life offers us, though; photos can provide excellent jumping-off points for storytelling – they evoke memories and inspire creativity. To underscore the theme of your presentation, you can use your personal snaps as well as stock photos. Both can help you find inspiration and breathe life into your presentation. When choosing a photo, keep in mind what you want to aim to achieve your presentation.
When looking through photos, you may well be inspired by the memory of an experience which is particularly relevant to your subject; this can then really help you to convey your narrative to the audience.
Structuring your storytelling presentation
So OK, the latest sales figures aren’t quite as exciting as you might have hoped. But with the help of a few tips on how to build your storytelling, you can turn even the driest figures into an interesting narrative in no time.
Most good stories follow a general pattern:
1. Initial situation
Start your story by setting out the initial situation. This is where your audience learns about the background of the story as well as getting to know the people involved and their needs and goals.
Once your audience has grasped the initial situation, you can begin to develop your story‘s plot. This can be a problem that crops up or a mission that needs to be successfully completed. Obstacles need to be overcome in order to triumph. (The human brain really responds to such situations, and can’t help but engage.)
Your story needs a definite conclusion: triumph awaits or, indeed, disaster! You can leverage either of these in your narrative to emphasize your points.
The stories you want to weave into a business presentation aren’t literally about fighting dastardly enemies or saving the world, though; a wobbly merger resolving into smooth success, or a sales drive failing quite spectacularly invoke the same emotional response in your audience. With a little creativity, Your company’s current situation can become the starting point of your story and your employees and competitors or challenges the heroes and opponents of your narrative.
A company’s ultimate goal, of course, is market leadership. If you achieve this, it means success not just for the company, but for all its employees. So draw your colleagues into an adventure that will lead to this goal!
A relevant and well-structured story along these lines has so much more impact than a dry presentation of your company’s figures, coming to the tired conclusion that things could be better and that more effort is needed.
Facts fall by the wayside without Emotional Involvement to back them up; it’s just how Our Brains are wired
We live in a society where communication and information transfer are more important than ever. Presentations are a great way to do this, even though in many cases a lot is said and little absorbed. When you incorporate elements which trigger the parts of our brains which really engage with subjects, though, it’s amazing how focused we can actually become.
For example, think about the last movie that really captivated you. Were you engrossed in the action? Did your pulse rate maybe go up as the tension rose? Even though you knew the movie was fiction and had nothing to do with the reality of your life, you were eager to know what would happen next.
And now think about the last presentations you watched. It’s a pretty safe bet that the opposite was true: even though the subject matter was far more relevant to you than a movie, you might have found it hard to pay attention.
So why is that?
Even if the content of the presentation is worth knowing, our Stone Age brain throws a wrench in the gears.
Our brain evaluates relevant information on an emotional level before a logical and factual level. It wants to hear a good story, and only then finds information interesting. So if you want to convey facts in your presentation, it helps to become a storyteller and link them to an emotional response.
Experiments at Stanford University have shown that we remember stories over twenty times better than facts and that they can be marketed at least twice as successfully.
A Story is only as good as the Person telling it
When using storytelling in presentations, keep your own role in mind. Your own motivation and experience qualify you to tell the stories you do, and by doing so you make yourself credible and trustworthy.
In order to maintain credibility, you need a certain amount of passion. Stand behind your story and express that energy during your presentation.
Accentuate Your Storytelling Presentation with Moving Images
If your presentation slides are purely dry text and the occasional graph, you run the risk of your audience’s attention waning and them switching off mentally. Using interesting infographics, animated graphics and dynamic video will breathe life into your presentation.
This doesn’t mean that you have to follow the latest fad trend; successful presentations embody a timeless elegance that involves and persuades the audience from the inside.
One tool very effective in bringing presentations alive is the morph effect in Microsoft PowerPoint. It allows you to easily create your own animations and transition effects, making your presentation look modern and professional. We set out here how to skilfully incorporate the morph effect into presentations. You don’t have to be a PowerPoint expert to use this feature; even a beginner can radically improve their presentations using the morph effect. Its dynamism is particularly effective in content marketing and for tutorials.
The Covid 19 pandemic has hugely accelerated the trend towards webinars as a form of presentation; they are very popular with both presenters and viewers. Presentations can be delivered and accessed from any location.
Webinars allow you to make your content available to a wide audience at low cost, without having to deliver your content anew each time. The danger, though, is that it is very easy for the audience to up and leave the presentation early if it doesn’t hold their attention.
To prevent this, and to liven up your presentation, why not try zoom effects? These let your audience easily zoom in on the information you present, focusing their attention. We’ve covered how to use these effects in your presentation here. They are useful not only for storytelling in presentations, but also in your social media presence and for content marketing.
Marketing through Storytelling
Storytelling is ideal for selling products and ideas. If you want to sell successfully, you have to be able to tell good stories to convince and inspire potential customers.
Facts alone are often not enough to arouse the emotions of your buyers. Great stories help your audience connect with the product and remember details more accurately. So your chances of a sale increase significantly if you can connect the product with positive emotions in your audience.
We’ve put together more helpful tips on storytelling methods for marketing and sales here.
Learn from the Best
There are many examples of amazing presentations by successful storytellers worth looking at for inspiration: Steve Jobs and Barack Obama are two of the best. Both inspired, and still inspire, through presentations which expertly incorporate storytelling to carry their audience with them.
Even Donald Trump, whose statements are not always considered the most intellectually sophisticated, successfully sells his supporters the story of building a wall to halt migration as the solution to all the problems of the United States.
Conclusion: Connect with Your Audience by using Storytelling in Presentations!
Storytelling as an integral part of presentations can work in almost any setting and allows you to actively engage and inspire your audience. It really doesn’t matter what the topic of the presentation is, nor who the audience is that you’re trying to convince.
If you have any further questions about storytelling or PowerPoint presentations in general, please feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].
In order to get you started on storytelling, we’ve produced a free PowerPoint template with storytelling quotes:
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