The Art of Storytelling in a Presentation

What is easier for you to remember — A list of statistics and facts that tell why a particular business will be a worthwhile investment? Or one or two stories of the company helping people and showing promising signs of growth?

Chances are, it would be the latter. Stories help make information personal. That is why people tend to pay more attention to charity campaigns that tell the story of a single child than full-page advertisements that just give numbers. People like to feel connections, and stories offer them.

Why stories are so effective

Humans are social creatures, and for thousands of years we have connected through storytelling. It is how we teach children the rules of our society, remember major events in the history of the community, and entertain each other. It makes sense that we are wired for storytelling. Yet countless people go to a conference and just talk about sales figures and numbers. People cannot relate to numbers. Stories help them place themselves within the narrative and see how the presenter and his company can help them. Some estimates say that stories are 22 times more likely to be remembered than facts alone.

Incorporating stories into a talk

Delivering the keynote at an important conference can be stressful. Public speaking is considered one of the most fear-inducing activities. It sure would seem easier to make a presentation based around facts — remaining safely detached from impersonal data. But the purpose of a presentation is not just to talk — it is to persuade — and persuasion requires stories.

Look for stories that show strong customer satisfaction or business growth. Give examples of successes. If there is interesting background to a new startup, invite the audience to share in stories of those early days, to help them connect. While the entire presentation cannot be one big story, using the art of storytelling freely throughout the conference will help keep the audience interested and encourage them to remember the good stuff.

Stories can be immensely helpful when communicating with audiences. Weaving a few delicately throughout a presentation can help customers remember facts much better. They certainly require a bit more creativity, but the rewards can be enormous.