The worst presenter I ever saw did everything wrong, from not understanding his audience, to lecturing instead of engaging us, to turning the session into one long sales pitch.
Worst of all, his talk was nothing but data—endless columns of it, packed onto dense, ugly slides. There was no narrative holding his points together and, in fact, no stories of any kind.
Stories are the centerpiece of any successful presentation. You should begin with story, end with story, and have stories in the middle.
Here’s how to effectively weave stories into presentations. But first, let’s review why storytelling is so important to presenting.
- Researcher Paul Zak found that stories cause the brain to produce oxytocin, a chemical related to feelings of empathy and a desire to cooperate. Stories essentially soften up an audience, making them more amenable to you and your ideas.
- In a popular TED Talk, storyteller Nancy Duarte describes the many ways stories sweep us up and carry us away, not just intellectually and emotionally, but physically. Listening to a story is an experience, not just a passive exercise.
- In the seminal book on persuasion Made to Stick, the authors did a study showing that after a presentation, 63% of audience members remembered the stories they heard, while just 5% could recall the statistics presented.
The bottom line: Stories captivate us and stay with us in a way that ordinary information just doesn’t.
1. Start your presentation with a story
Far too many presenters squander that all-important first minute of their presentation....
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