By Presentation Studio

November 12, 2012

How To Tell a Great Story

In our Knowing Your Audience blog post, we touched on the importance of telling a great story. In this post, we’ll go into more detail about how to craft a compelling narrative for your presentation.

The standard narrative structure is to work in three sections. Start with an introduction, deliver your detail in the middle, and conclude at the end. It’s worth noting however that rules are made to be broken, and you can generate great interest with unorthodox story structures and creative devices.

Understanding who you are speaking to will help you to modify your presentation in the following ways:

Start at the start
You’ll always want to avoid creating confusion in the mind of your audience. If an audience gets confused, they’ll switch off. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to start by give the audience a solid sense of who you are, what you’re talking about, and what they can expect to get out of listening to you. This information will give the audience a sense of being grounded and comfortable, which will make them more open to accepting your information.

Hooks and threads
A _??hook_?? is a storytelling device which you can use at the very beginning of your presentation to immediately generate interest, curiosity, awe, surprise or shock. It will jolt your audience awake and you’ll have everybody listening to you. You can then create a _??thread_?? through your presentation, where you regularly refer back to your hook, for example to tell a little bit more of a very intense anecdote or suspenseful situation, which you’ll then resolve at the end of your presentation.

Get to the point
Don’t take more time than you need to in your detailed _??middle_?? section. This is where you’re presenting your arguments and convincing your audience that your viewpoint is the one they should be adopting. Your audience has a limited attention span, so your arguments should be short and sharp. Don’t try and create filler or padding for your arguments, you should be aiming for impact, not length.

Wrapping up
Don’t neglect your conclusion _?_ it’s a very important part of your presentation. It’s here that you need to give your audience a specific way in which they can act in accordance with your wishes. You might want them to sign up for a course you’re offering, or purchase your product at a stall at the back of the room. By summarising your argument then compelling them to act, you’re connecting that action with the positive benefits you’ve just demonstrated in your detail section.

You don’t have to be Orson Welles, but putting some extra effort into getting your story right will make a big difference to how your presentation is received.

Our latest blog will give you some insight on the content marketing approach for presentations.

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