Why do so many people’s minds wander when they listen to a corporate presentation? It’s usually because the presentation fails to engage them. One of the best ways to engage audiences and stop wandering minds is through story telling. Our brains are wired to enjoy stories. Stories engage audiences and captivate their attention both emotionally and cognitively.
During our No Limits ‘Presenting for Leaders’ workshops, I enjoy seeing and hearing the before and after transformation when participants present. One of the biggest transformations is when they start using stories to explain their points, rather than rely on descriptive text.
In this newsletter, I want to share with you how one participant powerfully engaged the whole audience through story telling. This young, career driven female leader was born and grew up in China. For years she was a single child because of the single child policy. When her baby brother was born, her mother was demoted from the office to the factory floor as punishment for breaking the policy. Friends told this young girl that the reason her parents risked having another child was because they didn’t want a girl. For ten years, as she grew up and moved from home, she believed that her parents didn’t want her. Finally after years of not feeling wanted, she plucked up the courage to ask her mother why she didn’t want her. Her mother replied “I grew up as a single child and I wanted you to have a sibling to grow up with.”
This story pulled at our heart strings and has so many powerful meanings. It can be used in the corporate presentation setting in many situations, for example:
1. When people make the wrong judgements about others
2. There are always two sides to a story.
3. Learning to ask questions sooner than later.
4. Overcoming resentment, bad feelings and anger.
5. Being resilient.
Stories are not just for children or bed time reading. There are many different business contexts where stories can add ‘fuel’ to engage your listeners.
Here are some top tips on how to use stories in your corporate presentations to your advantage:
1. Keep Relevant
Make sure your stories are relevant to the purpose of your presentation.
2. Make Short and Sweet
Keep personal stories short, succinct and to the point of the presentation. Most audiences will switch off if the story is too long, disconnected and rambling.
3. Use fables
Fables usually have a meaning attached to them. You can look up fables on the internet e.g. Aesop fables.
4. Give a Transformational Plot
Ensure that your plot involves a transformation and the framework of your story has a beginning, middle and end.
5. Use Vocal Variety
Variation of voice power, pitch, pace, pause, inflection and tone will add emotion to allow your audience to easily follow the story.
6. End on a Punchy Note
Either finish your story on a bit of a mystery or give a one line explanation. Let the audience come to their own conclusion as they will interpret the message according to their own experiences. Long-winded explanations of the moral of the story will significantly reduce its impact.
7. Collect Stories
You can collect stories from many sources such as your own experiences, other peoples’ stories, books, newspapers, magazines and the internet. Create a database of stories so you can choose the most relevant ones for your presentation.
8. Learn from Others
Continuously learn from professional story tellers or people who can tell a good story to broaden your story telling abilities.
9. Be Creative
Story telling naturally influences right brain, creative thinking. When telling your story, always base it on the understanding of your audience and make it relevant to them. Use the same language as your audience so you are in rapport and they can relate to what you are saying.
10. Be Selective
Only select stories that you are comfortable with and can remember. Prepare and practise stories before you present so they flow well and you come across as a professional at story telling. A good story teller always stands out from the crowd and will be respected, as well as gain a good reputation.
Please contact Sandra Lai at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +65 6232 2466 for more information about our Presenting and Communicating programmes, whether your requirements are one to one coaching or group training.