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Storytelling in a presentation

Do you remember stories from your childhood? Was there a message behind each story? Do you remember it?

Many of us would answer yes to these questions. Storytelling has been used for centuries to pass on important information. It has relevance today even in the business world.

There are many emotions you can trigger in the audience just by your choice of words. Happiness, anger, sadness, nostalgia are just a few.

Knowing your purpose for speaking to a group helps you to pick which emotions you want to tap. When your purpose is known, choosing words to achieve the desired emotional response is much easier.

Using a story to make a point

If you are giving a presentation on the importance of wearing seat belts and wanted your audience to remember your message which of these two versions would be more effective?

Version 1

96% of motorists buckle up when they take to the roads. However, seat belt usage rates amongst those vehicle occupants killed remains a serious issue.

Over recent years, approximately one in every five motor vehicle occupants killed on our roads were unbelted, with a higher proportion of rear seated passengers killed in accidents unbelted, compared to drivers and front left passengers.

Version 2

One in every five motor vehicle occupants killed on our roads in 2011 were unbelted. One such person was John. John was an 18-year-old who after a big night out with friends was crammed into the back seat of his friend's car… not wearing a seat belt. After all, it was rather difficult with three big guys in the back seat and it was only a short trip home.

Dave, who was driving, was speeding and had had a few drinks that night. He lost control of the car. Dave was wearing a seat belt and survived the crash.

John and his friends in the back seat… never made it.

The power of a story

Version 1 gave us facts and figures whereas version 2 gave us a real situation – a situation that could happen to any of us or someone we know. We had an emotional connection to it.

Never under-estimate the power of the story. We have grown up with stories and find it an easy way to retain information.

The next time you are preparing a presentation is there a story that you can include which will add impact to your message?

To make a point, tell a story.


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
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