BIG Presentation Secret No.4: Tell stories

So what’s this week’s secret?

This week’s secret of successful BIG Presentations is all about storytelling.

Aren’t stories for kids?

No way, the greatest speakers and leaders in history have all used stories in their speeches to achieve their goals. Stories are important when presenting for business because they allow us to:

• Build rapport (due to being packed with emotion and shared experience)
• Introduce new ways of thinking to our audience
• Express an alternative opinion without obviously disagreeing with our audience
• Display an empathetic element of our character to our audience
• Promote a vision of the future of our business.

All of which are vital to delivering successful BIG Presentations.

So how do we use this secret?

What stories should we use in our BIG Presentations?

There are six key types of stories. The skill of great BIG Presenters is choosing which story type will best help us to achieve the objective of our presentation.

The six types are:

1. “Who I am” stories – display an important personality trait to build rapport and understanding.

Great for: introductory speeches, overcoming cynical or negative audiences

2. “Why I am here” stories – give a personal and a business reason why you are taking this course of action.

Great for: mergers, takeovers, downsizing

3. “The vision” story – describe how a future goal looks and feels for your audience, and the benefits for them.

Great for: presenting a strategic direction, culture projects, motivating teams

4. “Teaching” stories – tell a story of a team or employee that behaves in the desired way, and what they achieved.

Great for: motivating teams, setting a culture in your business, education

5. “Values in action” stories – tell the story of a team or employee displaying certain important values, and the success that this created.

Great for: setting a culture, improving performance, motivation

6. “I know what you are thinking” stories – tell a story that demonstrates how you previously overcame similar objections to the ones your current audience has.

Great for: hostile audiences, mergers, takeovers, explaining cuts

How do I find my story?

Once you’ve discovered which of the story types above best fits your BIG Presentation objectives (if you’re struggling, think about which one best matches your core message) you need to write the story itself.

The very best stories are personal to you. By being personal they demonstrate to your audience the emotional investment that you have in the point that you are making.

Think back through your own life and look for relevant experiences that you have had to form the basis of your story.

If you can’t think of a relevant story from your own life, why not use a famous fable or fairy tale to demonstrate your point. Aesop’s fables are packed with relevant messages and you can simply change the characters to make them relevant to your audience.

Check out a full list of Aesop’s fables here:

How do I bring my story to life?

It’s the little things in a story that bring it to life. Small details and facts help our audience to accurately paint in their minds the picture that we want them to see.

Be sure to make some notes on how things look, feel and sound within your story and include these details in your final delivery to really bring to life what you are saying.

Further reading

If you’re happy to have your mind expanded when it comes to stories, check out this collection of all of the latest scientific thinking on stories and the human condition, by Psychology

Next week’s secret…

Our next secret for BIG Presentation success is to make the most complex of topics very simple. Before next week, have a think about the areas of your business or profession that your audiences most often fail to understand.

What are the parts of your business that take the longest to explain?

Which areas do you get the most questions about?

And which products would you like to be able to quickly explain in less than 15 seconds?