PRESENTATIONS GUIDE: PART TWO (STORYTELLING)
Welcome to the second part in our ‘Improving the Effectiveness of your PowerPoint Presentations’ series. The first post in this series looked at what you should be doing before you even load up PowerPoint (you can view it here). Now we’re focusing on one of the key themes within the previous post – storytelling.
It’s fair to stay that PowerPoint gets a bit of a beating – by that we mean no one really speaks too highly of it. Boring and lecture-like are some of the thoughts that will likely spring to mind when PowerPoint is mentioned.
The simple truth? PowerPoint doesn’t deserve the negative treatment it gets. Boring, ineffective presentations cannot be blamed on PowerPoint. Blame should instead be attached to those who create and deliver the presentations.
With the use and importance of presentations seemingly ever growing, audiences are now demanding improvements. Therefore, far more time needs to be spent in understanding the elements that make presentations more effective. There is one element in particular that the best presentations all have running through them. A story.
The following are the principles we believe (through experience and many reading hours) you should follow when crafting your presentations story.
Storytelling really is what separates bad and boring presentations from excellent and engaging ones…
SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF STORYTELLING:
1. At the very beginning, set the scene by introducing the problem, along with the relevant context. All presentations have an issue that they are trying to solve. Make it perfectly clear to the audience what this problem is. It’s best done by keeping it simple and factual, and if possible, make it personal.
2. Identify the idea or key piece of insight that you want the audience to take away with them and be captivated by. You should be able to do this by recognising the idea/insight that captivated you about the issue you are trying to transform.
3. Spend time crafting a story around the key idea/insight. There WILL be a story that you can tell about the idea you want to give to your audience. You just need to find this and develop it. This part is crucial, so spend the time on it. A personal story with an emotional narrative will always be the strongest form of storytelling, as an audience will connect with you and your story on a personal level. Granted, for some topics an emotional narrative can be hard to find, but do try.
4. Most people get bored viewing presentations because the presentations fail to keep them hooked. How often have you viewed a presentation that gives you the answers and facts as bullet points straight away, and then goes on to explain each of them in detail? This is the traditional lecture-like approach – No story, just answers and facts. It’s not very engaging. Whereas storytelling has a narrative that builds towards the reveal of a key idea(s), creating anticipation and hooking the audience in, making them follow the story being told.
5. Facts and answers are still required however, but these should be the things that you drop in around your story. They add to your story, helping to explain the how and why of your story. Facts and answers help piece your story together, instead of trying to replace it. And remember keep the facts and figures short and sweet. One of the worst things to do with presentations is to overload your audience with data. People tend to switch off when confronted with too much.
6. We think presentations should tell a story as if it is being told to a friend. No matter who the audience is, who the presenter is, or what the subject of the presentation is. By doing this, there will be a greater connection between the presenter and the audience, greatly increasing the chances of the audience taking action on the idea/insight that they are given.
7. Less is more. When handing over the idea/insight you want the audience to be left wanting more. So that they take the (captivating) idea with them and act on it.
There you have it. The principles that you should follow when crafting your presentations story.
To recap, part one in this guide was about thinking about the needs of your audience. Part two builds on this by acknowledging the power of storytelling. In our third and final post in this series, we will cover the actual doing – which you can read here. Then, we will combine the three posts in this series to create one handy presentation, which you can refer to every time you begin work on a PowerPoint presentation.
Until next time…