Presentation Magazine

Why you need a story for your presentations

How do you persuade people to implement your training, buy from you, or approve your proposal?

Yes, you need a good “offer,” whether that offer is to help trainees perform better, improve clients’ results, or get more done with less money. But a good offer isn’t enough.

Lots of research has shown that emotion is necessary for people to make a decision. They buy in because it feels good. They believe that whatever you’re offering will help them in some way. It’s a common saying that people buy on emotion and justify it afterward. This applies even when the transaction isn’t a purchase for money. They buy the premise of your proposal. They accept that your training will get them where they want to be in the company.

And perhaps the best way to convey emotion is through a story, especially when backed up with strong images. For more information on how to choose the right images for your presentations, see my post, “4 secrets to choose the best images for your slides.”

So you need a story for your presentations. You can use many types of stories:

  • Case studies
  • Examples
  • Your story (an experience you had)
  • Stories about employees or customers
  • A story in the news
  • A story from history

A good way to start telling stories is to find something from your own experience that illustrates your point. It’s obviously going to be original, it’s personal (adds emotion), and you already have the content. You’ll often find that you can use this story over and over–just make sure it’s relevant to your presentation and the audience!

This is sometimes called a “signature” story and public speakers use it a lot. If you haven’t written your signature story, use the guidelines here to get it done!

Evoke emotions with a story

powerpoint-tips-story-presentations-1Your signature story can show your audience WHY  you want to help them. Your story gives meaning to what you’re doing.

And that’s what trainees, managers, and clients really buy, or buy into.

In the end, you really need at least one signature story and several others that work as powerful motivators for people to take action. Your story opens their heart. It inspires others that they can also overcome their obstacles and succeed.  People buy that inspiration. You must tell your story.

A signature story is how you explain where you were and what happened to bring you to do what you do now. You show them your journey and help them imagine making a similar journey.

And by the way, when you finish crafting your story, it will re-inspire you! (Yup, that’s me at the right.)

Elements of a signature story

Not all stories are signature stories. You can tell short case studies about the success of a client. You can explain what happened to inspire you to create a specific product.

But a signature story is more complete. It has a structure. In fact, one of the definitions of a story is that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Your signature story should be a life-changing experience or realization that helped you overcome an obstacle or weakness.

Take a moment to write down some experiences that led you to where you are now, that created the YOU that you are now.

Now, choose the more meaningful and powerful of those experiences and lay out your story with these elements:

  1. Start with a hook: This is just a sentence or two to get attention. It should be something surprising or unusual. I have a story about how my second son was born and it starts with me showing my watch and saying, “This watch might have saved my son’s life!”
  2. Set the initial scene: Describe the situation as visually and viscerally as possible. In that story, I describe the dangerous situation I was in.
  3. Explain the struggle, obstacle, or event: Examples are an accident, a feeling of failure, a bankruptcy, a loss of a loved one, a conflict, etc. In my story, I explain how it started to unfold (the birth of my son).
  4. Describe your turning point: What was the realization or transformation that occurred? What did you decide to do? In my example, I describe how I had to quickly get help, even though I was alone with my 2-year old son and without a phone. (It was a while back!)
  5. Tell how you succeeded: Explain how you overcame or resolved the problem and the results you got. In my story, I relate how it all turned out (well, thank goodness!)
  6. Connect the story to the present: How did the events in the story lead you to what you’re doing now, to your business, this product, or this presentation? Explain the point of the story so that it’s perfectly clear. You can say something like, “Now, I’m on a mission to…” Depending on the audience, I explain how I had to take uncomfortable action because doing nothing wasn’t an option and how that applies to business and life.

You need to show vulnerability and express the emotions you felt. (By the way, that son is getting married in a couple of months!)

Where do you use your story?

You use your story when you speak. Every talk, every webinar should include a story, or two or three.

A powerful technique is to start a story at the beginning of your talk and leave people in anticipation by moving on to the rest of your content without finishing it. Then, you resolve the story at the end.

To learn more about using a storyline for an entire presentation, see my post, “Why both stories and a storyline are important for your presentations.”

What story could you tell to engage your audience, convey emotion, and persuade them to take action?

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Ellen Finkelstein – View the original post .


Published On: 14th Jun 2016

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