Many audiences begrudgingly attend meetings with presenters.
Audiences look upon many presenters as an interruption. The last thing a busy audience wants is more information. Often the presenter can be unprepared, distracted and pre-occupied. Anything but focused on the audience and audience needs.
Afterwards, the audience quickly forgets the presenter’s message as they move to another meeting. The presenter’s responsibility is to pull distracted audiences into the world of the presenter; otherwise, the presentation is for naught. A golden opportunity may be lost forever.
A great way to engage multi-tasking audiences is with a good story. People love stories. Since Biblical days, it is the way humans have learnt best and retained information.
By telling a story, your value proposition comes alive. If you aren't already incorporating stories into your conversations, you need to get on the bandwagon.
The mistake that many presenters make is to think audiences want only the facts, the data. Presenters assume they might waste time and annoy them by telling a story. While audiences do need the facts, the data becomes relevant or makes sense through a relevant story.
Consider for a moment how many business meetings most professionals attend in a day or a week. Often audiences get confused when so many companies seem to offer and promise the same thing. The one that wins the business is not necessarily the one with the best solution. It's the one that connects with the audience. A story can do just that.
Many presenters feel they are already using stories when they cite a case study or an example. While these do add color, the human or emotional element is missing. Remember, data is sterile, while stories paint a picture.
Stories have to be short i.e. 2 minutes or less, and the link between your story and what your audience cares about has to be obvious. Your story has to be rich enough to keep your audience engaged from start to finish.
A good story needs a main character, someone with whom your audience can identify. For audiences to visualize, your story also needs a setting and some action. The action begins with an inciting incident and intensifies with additional difficult challenges your hero or main character must overcome. Finally, your story needs a strong ending or resolution.
If your story is engaging, your audience will connect on more than an intellectual level. Pay attention to the fact that there are three levels of connection. The first is to think, the second to feel and the third to remember.
This third level is where you should aim. It is reached when you tie your story to your audience’s business issue. It enables your audience to repeat your value proposition to others after you walk out the door.
As you prepare for your next presentation, invest time ahead thinking of one or two stories to make your topic come alive and to create a memory hook for your audience to share your idea or solution to others.
Remember, any event in your life can make for a good story!
All the best with your future presentations!