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How to add stories to any PowerPoint

How to add stories to any PowerPoint

Storytelling is an effective tool for stronger communications, but it's also a tough topic to understand.

One of the big challenges that people face when beginning to add storytelling techniques to their presentations is simply how to get started.

What is a story? Does the story need to go from intro to conclusion? Do I need to come up with a big idea before I start? How can I practice these techniques?

In reality, storytelling techniques are simple and approachable. So if you’re ready to start making your presentations more memorable and engaging, here are a few ways to do it!

What does storytelling mean?

When we talk about storytelling in presentations, there are really two ways to approach it. You can tell real stories, like in a TED-talk style address, or you can use story techniques to frame your content.

Both of these approaches are effective, but they aren't equally appropriate for every presentation.

"Stories" (with a Capital S) are the keynote style anecdotes you probably think of when you hear the term. They are personal, engaging, and one of the most powerful ways to connect with an audience. But if you are presenting a sales deck for your widget brand to a manufacturing partner, they might be a bit lofty and esoteric for the context.

Using a story format, or narrative techniques, is about using the structure of stories (e.g. intro, body, conclusion) to make your content more engaging and easier for your audience to follow.

So the way you approach stories is dependent on your audience, your content, and the goals of your presentation.

Address your audience

In a previous storytelling blog, we talked about how to put your audience at the center of your headline writing. But there’s another way to add a storytelling feel to your presentations that is even simpler: speak directly to them. And the way to do this is to switch from broad statements about your topic, and use more direct language, in particular second and third person pronouns.

For example, 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.”

Both of these simple examples illustrate how changing the way you write can bring the audience into your presentation, making them less of a passive listener and more an active participant.

Make it personal

Too often, people use cold, jargony language in an attempt to sound professional. But not only does this come across as generic and dull, but it separates your presentation from its strongest pillar: you.

Because great presentations aren’t about passing along information, they are about making connections. And people connect with other people, not abstract ideas or tables of product features.

So don’t be afraid to add some more of you to your next presentation. Use your own language and tone, share stories of your experience and insight into the subject of your presentation, and let your personality shine through.

Banish jargon

While jargon is widely mocked for the way it can often string together nearly incomprehensible sentences, the problem in this case is that it is something of an anti-story. What we mean by that is, jargon is intended to be a concise shorthand, a language that is designed to convey information quickly without extra explanation. It’s a “facts only” way to think about writing.

But stories are the opposite. They are intended to immerse you in context, to help you understand how something has (or will) change, and to communicate a key point.

So by simply removing the business jargon that’s cluttering your headlines, you can accomplish two things at once. First, you’ll make your presentation more unique, personal, and relatable. And second, by simply adding context and explanation, you’ll be using storytelling techniques to increase the information your audience retains from your presentation.

Tell your own story

These are just a few of the ways you can start using storytelling techniques to craft stronger presentations. As you experiment with these, you’ll also find other ways to tell stories that suit your unique writing and speaking style, and that enhance your particular way of presenting.

Update (03/24): we’ve revised this article to add some new details on best practices for storytelling in presentations

Looking for more information about presentation skills and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Kyle Kartz is the Creative Director of Storytelling at VerdanaBold. He is an expert copywriter and strategist, with experience driving major campaigns for global brands in multiple industries. He is passionate about communications, the outdoors, and cooking.



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