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How to tell a story in a presentation

Whether you’ve been reading our blog or just following the latest LinkedIn articles, you’ve probably seen the concept of presentation storytelling popping up in your daily browsing.

While this concept is simple, it tends to feel a little unusual to people who aren’t familiar with the technique. So in today’s blog, we’re going to walk you through some simple ways for you to use storytelling techniques in your next presentation.

How do you tell a story in a presentation?

First off, let’s clear up one big thing. It’s common that, when people are introduced to PowerPoint storytelling for the first time, they ask how they can make a story appropriate for a business meeting, or where they come up with ideas for stories.

We aren’t necessarily talking about adding anecdotes or historical examples. Those things are definitely storytelling, and can be used to great effect in presentations. But those examples are very situational. What we want to do is create simple, replicable techniques that can easily be applied to any presentation. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Start with headlines

The easiest way to add storytelling to your presentations is to think about the headlines, the key message (that’s usually) at the top of your slide. Headlines are the most visible, and typically most memorable, bit of writing on your slides. They are also what people look to to orient themselves to the content of your slide.

To make them more story focused, there are two things you can do. First, instead of simply describing what’s on your slide, let your headline give some context to your information. Second, instead of thinking of headlines as a summary of that slide's content, think of each one in relation to your other headlines. Here’s an example:

Descriptive headlines

  1. Introduction

  2. Product Overview

  3. Product Features

  4. Next Steps

Storytelling headlines

  1. The state of the industry

  2. How our widget will change everything

  3. What makes our product unique

  4. Where we go from here

From features to benefits

Another way to use storytelling techniques is to focus your writing on benefits, rather than features. We often describe presentation storytelling as the act of putting information into context, and the movement from features to benefits illustrates this quite clearly.

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, and you’ll be telling a story while you do it!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with storytelling

While the term “storytelling” may seem unfamiliar to some, the techniques are tried and true. And the best way to get good at something is to practice! So start revising your headlines, adding in benefits, and telling stories with confidence. We’re sure you’ll see the difference almost immediately.


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