Storytelling is the most important business communications technique that you aren’t using. That’s why we devoted a whole month just to sharing some of the foundational skills and strategies behind storytelling. So the next time you are writing a PowerPoint, marketing deck, or even just an important email, be sure to make sure you are using these simple but effective techniques for presentation storytelling!
We hope you enjoy our Best of 2021 storytelling tips guide!
What is presentation storytelling?
One issue with presentation storytelling is that most guides you’ll find online don’t seem to be able to tell you what it really means. Too often, people think that storytelling is something that isn’t appropriate for a business setting, or that it’s just a gimmick. But the fact is, storytelling is an art that can be learned and refined.
When we talk about “stories,” we’re talking about more than historical anecdotes or fictional accounts. Business storytelling means shifting the way you write presentations to focus on a series of statements that build to a larger point, rather than simply stating facts and figures on each slide. Or, to put it another way, putting your ideas into context.
Why presentation storytelling matters
Storytelling isn’t just a clever way to share your information – it actually helps make your presentations more effective! Here’s how
Storytelling helps the audience to retain information
Storytelling creates stronger connections with the audience
Storytelling helps you to keep the audience engaged
When you take all of that into account, the next step is clear: you should use storytelling techniques in your next presentation.
Start storytelling with headlines
The simplest way to add a story is to change the way you write headlines in your presentation. Headlines are typically the most visible writing on a slide, and will be the place your audience turns to orient themselves to your presentation.
One simple step is to put your headlines into a larger context. For example, instead of using headlines to summarize what’s on each slide, think of them in relation to the overall presentation.
A second way is to shift from writing about features to benefits. In our blog on how to add stories to any presentation, we explained it this way:
“A feature describes something: “Push-button starter,” or “3-Year Warranty.” A benefit describes how things will change as a result of using that product: “Faster start times,” or “Worry-free operation.”
By focusing on benefits, you’ll automatically start to show how things will change with your product/service.”
Include your audience
Maybe these tips still feel like more than you’re ready to take on. No problem. The simplest way to start telling stories in a presentation is to address your audience. One recommendation we made is to move away from broad statements and use more direct language that speaks to the audience.
“So instead of saying “A new innovation in technology,” you can say “The most important innovation you’ll see this year.” Or, instead of “Agenda,” say “What we will cover.””
The goal is to create an experience that connects the speaker and the audience, and to turn passive listening into active participation.
Add some personality
Stories aren’t for special occasions, they are the core of our everyday communication. It’s not only effective, it’s makes your presentation feel more personal. That’s why we suggested that “presentation storytelling can be as easy as using more conversational language.”
Science is on your side
If you’re still unsure about using storytelling techniques in your presentation, it might help to learn that science shows that it’s a more effective way to communicate than your standard business jargon. We covered a podcast from the Stanford Graduate School of Business that highlights some of the key research and findings that support using storytelling techniques, and the takeaways are clear: “Stories are crafted to plug into what matters to the brain.”
Make 2022 the Year of Storytelling
If you’re just discovering presentation storytelling techniques, or you haven’t yet tried them out, make a New Year’s resolution to add them to your toolbox in the coming year.
For storytelling tips and more, check out our blog or sign up for our monthly newsletter! And check out our other Wrapped articles for Powerpoint and Presentation tips that will help you present like a pro in 2022 and beyond.