Want to Wow Your Audience? 5 Tips on How to Incorporate Storytelling Into Your Presentations

June 3, 2014 Monika Jansen

Engaged audience

Presentations tend to fall into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The ugly are the ones that have audiences yawning and surreptitiously playing Candy Crush. The bad aren’t sleep-inducing, but they are uninspired and borderline boring. The good are actually the great ones, the TED ones, the ones we remember, the ones we laugh through and learn from – the ones we aspire to give.

The key to keeping your audience on the edge of their seats? Storytelling. Turn your presentation into a story, and you will not only hold their attention, but probably wow them too.

Here are five tips on how to incorporate storytelling into your presentations:

1. Ask, “What story will I tell?”

You know what your presentation is about before you even start putting it together, so now’s the time to think about it as a story with a beginning, middle, and end – and you as the author. Instead of starting with what slides to use, write a story that will speak directly to your audience and touch on the things they care about.

2. Think about how you can build tension

All good stories pit a bad guy against a good guy. First, you need to introduce your antagonist and protagonist. Who are they? What is important to them? Then you need to build the story into the inevitable conflict between the two. Pull in statistics and numbers here to underscore the importance of resolving the conflict. You can even flash forward to a world where the conflict isn’t resolved – what does it look like?

3. Your solution is “The End”

If you’ve done a good enough job of building tension, your audience will be relieved to reach the conclusion, which is focused on your solution, the desired outcome where good triumphs over bad. When you are writing the ending, keep in mind that your audience doesn’t care about how smart you are, but how you can help them.

4. Now you can work on slides

Think about how your slides can supplement the story you are telling. Note that I said supplement, not overpower. Keep your slides clean. Only use visuals that link to your message, and keep text to a bare minimum. Your slides should only serve as a guide to your presentation, not as the presentation itself.

5. Know your story inside and out

If you really want to knock this presentation out of the ballpark, you need to know your story backwards, forwards, inside, and out. You should be able to tell it without any slides or notes. Practice on speaking concisely and clearly and changing your tone of voice and the speed at which you talk to really hammer home certain points and keep your audience engaged.

Then practice some more.

What other things do you do during presentations to keep your audience riveted to every word you say? Share your tips below!

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Image courtesy of news.cision.com

Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at www.jansencomm.com.

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