What Does Storytelling in Presentations Actually Mean?

The art of storytelling is about having the ability to connect and inspire people to change their mind or take a certain action by presenting a narrative they can relate to and see themselves as the center of attention in your story.

What does this have to do with you? Why should you bother reading further on?

The answer to this is simple.

If you’ve already come to the realization that convincing a crowd of people of adopting your idea takes more than reading off your PowerPoint slides – then picking up a few storytelling skills is exactly what you need to advance in your business and career.

What makes storytelling an important skill for you?

When you’re in the role of a presenter, your main goal is to find a way to connect with your audience. It’s all about finding common ground between you and them so they can get on board for the journey you’re about to show them.

Telling stories is an essential skill that allows you to establish a good flow of communication so your main presentation message reaches the audience in a way that sticks.

This means that the slides behind you are not the center of attention during your presentation. It’s all about the conflict your audience is facing and how your message helps them resolve it, while the slides are just there to help you take people through the process.

What role do stories play in presentations?

The components of an engaging story are usually the main focus points of what any presentation should be about. So what are the components of stories that you can take and apply in the context of a presentation?

You need…

1. Characters. The center of attention in any story is the main character. In the context of presentations, this is your audience, not you. You play the role of the narrator.

2. Traits. The personality traits and qualities that describe what kind of people your audience consists of.

3. Goals. The achievement that your target audience wants to reach.

4. Motives. The reasons why they want to achieve those goals.

5. Problems. The biggest obstacles that stand in the way of their achievements.

6. Struggles. The complications that make it difficult to overcome the problems.

7. Sensory Details. The elements – text, sound, visuals, props, and anything that you plan to use to attack the five senses of the people in front of you.

The key you need to combine those components and use them to put together a compelling narrative is simple – structure.

Now that you have the components – it’s time to create the story and if needed, support it with beautiful visuals. Remember, the end goal is for them to embrace your idea and leave the presentation changed.

How to structure your presentation like a story?

There are multiple different ways to structure a story based on the desired effect. But usually, a story is based on three parts:

The beginning.

Intro of the present and the new challenge faced by your audience.

Start by focusing on the problem and complications. This is how to hook people’s interest because they feel like you’re also in the same situation as them.

It’s how you build engagement and suspense because now they expect you have a way to solve this for them and are waiting to hear it.

Fun fact: Humans are natural problem solvers. When you start off with that, your audience will begin thinking of ways to work it out and pay attention way more.

The middle.

The challenges, the solutions, and a future that can be much better.

Change is what attracts human attention the most, so the middle part of your presentation’s story is where you need to introduce potential opportunities and how much better things can be.

This part is where you need to focus on how your solution can bring this change. Making a clear comparison of the present and future and constantly going back and forth thus creating tension and releasing it which by itself will keep the audience constantly engaged. 

Fun fact: Novelty is what sparks curiosity in your audience, so talking about how things can be new and better makes them imagine the opportunities that await after using your solution.

The end.

How everything can be achieved and the action the audience needs to take.

The conclusion is where everything gets tied together. It’s the part where your story ends with the main takeaways and lessons your audience should remember.

The reflection part is what summarizes the entire story and shows a happy end where your audience can already imagine themselves achieving their goals using your solution.

Fun fact: Ending your presentation with a powerful and famous quote helps you nail it for a strong finish and adds a sense of confidence in your audience.

It’s easier than it sounds

You don’t need to be a pro at this to tell a good story. You just need to use a structured flow that comprises the components we mentioned above and your presentations will instantly start taking a new more effective form that increases your audience engagement.