Tell great stories if you want to create inspiring presentations
By our News Team | 2021
Good scriptwriting and a great presenter will all help. But the crux of an outstanding presentation is storytelling.
What is it that separates good business and marketing presentations from the great ones? Is it thoughtful design? Sharp writing? An expert presenter? The difference is that good presentations express ideas, while great presentations tell a story.
This is advice given to marketers by Danielle John, President of Chicago-based VerdanaBold, which specialises in presentation design services.
“Business storytelling means shifting the way you write presentations to focus on a series of statements that build to a larger point, rather than simply stating facts and figures on each slide,” she explains in an article on the website of the In-House Agency Forum.
Here are John’s tips for telling great stories in presentations:
Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels
Tip #1: Give your presentation a narrative
A narrative is simply a series of connected events. So, when you are beginning your presentation, you should determine what the main point is and find ways to connect “the way things are today” with “the way things will be with my product/service”.
The most important part is to be dispassionate about your subject. Often, people fall into the trap of thinking that every bit of information about their product/service is essential to the audience’s understanding. The problem with that is that it’s easy to overwhelm people with information rather than guiding them to focus on a single key message. Focus on a key idea, then build up to it.
Tip #2: Write with storytelling techniques
Once you’ve decided on the narrative hook for your story, it’s time to actually tell it. There are several techniques we use (and teach to clients) for telling effective stories in presentations, but the simplest is shifting from writing about ‘features’ to ‘benefits’.
We like to start here because it’s a familiar concept to most people and one that is often unused. A feature simply describes something, while a benefit shows how things change as a result of the feature. Instead of telling people about the new thumbprint sensor on a mobile computer, tell them about faster start-up times.
When you focus on benefits, you’re showing people how things will change, rather than telling them what your product/service is. Now they understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’.
Tip #3: Build your story with visual design
Storytelling isn’t just about the words you choose. With visual storytelling, individual design elements on your slides act as pillars to support your larger narrative. Here’s what we mean.
First, select visuals that enhance what you are saying. Instead of listing bullet points, add your text into shapes, create an infographic, or add illustrations over photographs. You can also add to the drama and tension of your story by including simple animations. An arrow animating in the direction of growth, or a dramatic word building on screen, can punctuate key points without the presenter saying a word.
Concludes John: “Start approaching each presentation with the mindset that every element on a slide should be intentional and support your larger idea. And always put content first – if it isn’t helping tell your story, it isn’t helping at all.”