Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good story? Stories are ‘sticky’, while information fades out.
So why risk your audience fading out of your presentation and refocusing on what they’ll have for lunch that day, while you’re standing there sharing that data you worked so hard to collect? Why not be the person that said something, that they will later share with their friends over lunch?
We don’t need science to tell us how much we enjoy stories. But if we do, then according to the latest researches on the subject – people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared via a story versus only 5 to 10 percent of information conveyed through statistics.
And even more intriguing – stories are basically easier to recall because descriptive tales can activate up to 7 areas of the human brain (versus the 2 areas that get activated by facts and figures). And with that many areas of the mind engaged, listeners actually experience the story, instead of only processing it.
On the other, less scientific side, if we think about it – the reason we enjoy a nice story is not because it’s simply easier to remember, but also because it’s personal, relatable and brings all the important data to life.
So whether you are talking about the details on the latest marketing campaign you worked on, the growth of your country’s economy, or even on the health benefits of eating apples – it all comes down to how (good) you actually say it.
But don’t worry, if mankind can manage to build the Large Hadron Collider than you can easily become the wizard of storytelling. And for that reason, our team put down a brief list of some good tips we believe to be great starting points on your quest to becoming an impressive storyteller.
It’s all in the opening
Novelists have been aware of this for some time now – one of the most important things in a book is the opening. Stephen King himself spends months and even years coming up with the perfect opening sentence.
“There’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
The same goes to presenting. It only takes seconds to get defocused, and it takes just as much to get interested. If you lose your audience’s attention at the very beginning, chances are you won’t be able to get it back throughout the rest of your presentation.
So, next time you find yourself on the stage – start your presentation with a ‘bang’. Provide your listeners with a hook so they want to find out more.
Don’t forget about the visual aspect
Of course, words will always be words, but let us help you decide on that ‘bang’. According to one infographic, you only have 8 seconds to capture the listener’s attention with great creative, before they ‘scroll’ away. And we all know how we fall and easily remember good visuals, whether it’s a nice photograph, a touching video or a beautifully drawn bar chart.
‘Infographic’ has been the buzzword for couple of years now – and there’s a real reason behind it. Infographics are one of the best ways to convey complex information in a visually appealing format. While they are no longer the only way to tell a visual story, they still remain a staple.
So, go on, quickly sign up and enrich your presentation with some eye-catching infographics.
Tell a personal story
First-hand experiences the teller actually witnessed – always make for good stories. Even if it’s a story that has been passed on from a generation to a generation, an effective one still has an element of how that story relates directly to the teller.
And when you do tell that personal story – try to be as much relatable as possible. A personal story should show you in an honest, and even in a less than flattering light. People connect more easily with other people’s imperfections, your flaws make you more human – thus more connectable. So don’t brag, but relate.
We are turning to the the writers, the masters of storytelling, for this one too. And according to George Orwell and his rules for writing – (1) you should never use a long word where a short one will do, and (2) If it is possible to cut a word out, you should always cut it out.
So, always try to talk less and say more. Try and skip all the sentences that don’t contain any ‘information’. And if they don’t actually hold any, then they should at least be interesting for listening.
Which brings us to our next tip – use humor. That doesn’t mean you should tell an actual joke (which can also work), but everyone enjoys an intentional pun here and there.
Making your audience smile (and even laugh) will help you maintain their concentrations and attentions high.
Clichés have the wonderful ability of ruining a perfectly good story. People, being so overdosed by clichés, tend to simply not acknowledge their presence in a story. So even if your point is wonderful, choosing a cliché saying to express it with will only force your listeners to not notice it. You should always try to make your story authentic and avoid all forms of clichés. That means you should skip those overly repeated lessons to be learned, sayings and even cliché words.
Learn from the best
Doesn’t matter if you’re playing chess or getting ready for a presentation, the basic rule always applies – if you want to get better, learn from the best
So, next time you are preparing for a presentation remember that a good story might just make your pitch from mundane to magnificent.