The hallmark of a great presentation is not only the topic or the design of your slides. It’s also how memorable and engaging your presentation is. The more memorable your presentation, the better the chances of your audience taking the desired action.
A great way to make your presentations more engaging and memorable is to use storytelling. But what exactly is storytelling in business and marketing? And how can you use storytelling in your presentations? We’ll answer those questions in this guide.
What Is Storytelling in Business & Marketing?
Storytelling is the act of telling stories, using facts and narrative to share your message. The purpose behind storytelling in business and marketing is to connect with your audience and motivate or inspire them to take action.
Storytelling adds a human element to your brand. It helps your audience understand why they should care about your products or services. You can use video, images, and written content for the purposes of storytelling.
You can also use storytelling across all your marketing channels from the content on your website, YouTube channel, or podcast to your social media and printed marketing materials. Keep reading to learn more about how to be a good storyteller.
Why Storytelling Works
There are several reasons why storytelling is so effective:
- Stories make it easy to explain difficult or abstract concepts. You can use a story to relate a new or abstract idea to ideas that are already familiar to your audience. Apple is a great example of a brand that uses stories and everyday experiences to explain computers and technology in terms everyone can understand instead of relying on complicated industry jargon
- Stories bring us together. No matter what the story is, all of us can often relate to at least one character in the story. And when we can find a common thing to relate to, it’s a lot easier to establish a sense of community and trust.
- Stories inspire action. How many times have you heard a story, watched a movie or read a book and felt inspired to take action? Stories tap into our emotions. When you can successfully do this as a business, you’ll have an easier time converting your audience into buyers.
5 Tips for How to Be a Better Storyteller
Storytelling is as old as time itself. And while anyone can tell a story, not everyone is a born storyteller. Luckily, we've got a few quick tips to help you become better at storytelling:
1. Focus on Your Audience
The most important tip is to focus on your audience and really get to know them. While it’s obvious that you won’t become best friends with them just for the sake of your presentation, it’s important to understand their interests, desires, and struggles. This will help you tailor your message better and understand what motivates them to take action.
2. Appeal to the Senses
Visuals are an important part of any presentation. But you shouldn’t rely on visuals alone. Use your words to appeal to all of the senses throughout your story. This will create a more engaging experience and make your presentation more memorable.
3. Go Back to Pen and Paper
Resist the urge to create your story and presentation directly in PowerPoint or Keynote. Instead, consider using the good old pen and paper to write the first rough draft of what you’re going to cover.
By using the pen and paper first, you’ll be able to focus on the story rather than be distracted by the data and graphs in your presentation. Once you've got the initial story draft, you can then refine it in your presentation software of choice.
4. Always Be on the Lookout for Stories
Part of mastering the art of storytelling is to always be on the lookout for stories. You can keep a small notebook with you so you can quickly jot down those stories. Or better yet, use an app on your phone so they’re always synced between your devices. Once you train your mind to look for stories, you’ll see them everywhere!
5. Practice Telling Stories
Lastly, the only way to get better at anything is to practice. In other words, once you start collecting stories, you need to practice telling them. You can use your phone to record yourself telling stories. Not only will this allow you to see how you’re doing but you’ll also be working on reducing your fear of speaking in front of an audience or appearing on camera.
7 Storytelling Techniques You Can Use for Engaging Presentations
Now you know what storytelling is and why it’s so effective. Let’s take a look at some practical techniques that you can use for engaging presentations:
1. Overcome Adversity
One of the best-known storytelling techniques makes use of overcoming adversity and triumphing in the face of it. It centers around the hero who is faced with some kind of a challenge.
The hero then goes on a difficult journey and must find a way to overcome this challenge. Often, after the journey filled with trials and tribulations, they return with a reward or with newfound wisdom. This technique is also referred to as the monomyth.
You can see an example in this TedTalk by Leslie Morgan Steiner about how she found the courage to leave her abusive spouse.
2. Start in the Middle
All good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most stories start at the beginning, logically. But if you want to engage your audience right from the get-go, consider starting in the middle. Drop your audience right into the heart of the matter to grab their attention then circle back to the beginning and reveal the end.
Consider this TedTalk by Zak Ebrahim. He starts off by saying his father was involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Once he's got the audience’s attention, he goes back to share the events that shaped his childhood and how he ended up choosing a completely different path than this father.
3. Show and Tell
As mentioned earlier, visuals are very important when it comes to presentations. While the usual adage says to show and not tell, consider doing the opposite. Show and tell to engage your audience in your story.
In this inspiring and attention-grabbing TedTalk, Richard Turere, a 12-year-old boy from Kenya shares an inspiring story about his invention that helped prevent lion attacks on his family’s cattle. He relies heavily on visuals to tell his story and does a great job of captivating the audience.
4. Disrupt the Pattern
Patterns are predictable and familiar. This can give us a sense of safety and security. But when it comes to storytelling, it can also be boring. The result is a boring presentation that nobody remembers what it was about.
Disrupt the pattern by introducing a shocking statistic or doing something unexpected. If you need inspiration, take cues from the TedTalk presentation by Bill Gates.
In his talk, he shares the dangers of Malaria and why more should be done to eradicate it. At one point in the presentation, he opens up a jar full of mosquitos and releases them among the audience.
5. Connect the Disconnected
As mentioned before, stories make it easy to relate abstract or complex ideas to familiar ones. When you connect the seemingly disconnected ideas, your audience will remember them better.
You can use this approach to tell several different stories. When you’re done with one story, tie it back to your original message. Then repeat the process with the next story. This approach allows you to show how these stories are actually interconnected and reinforce the central message at the same time.
Look no further than Simon Sinek and his TedTalk about great leaders inspiring action. A few examples in his talk include:
- Apple being the innovator year after year.
- Martin Luther King leading the Civil Rights Movement.
- The Wright Brothers being the first ones to invent, build, and fly the first successful motor-operated airplane.
6. Compare and Contrast
Use your storytelling skills to paint a picture. Then compare it and contrast it with a complete opposite. This type of storytelling can be a great way to point out problems in your environment. It can inspire change and motivate your audience to take action and change things.
If you need an example, look no further than Martin Luther King’s famous speech. In his speech, he paints the picture of a society where all races are treated equally, no matter what. He then contrasts that with the life he and thousands of others had to deal with daily — living in an intolerant and racist society.
7. Resolve the Conflict
Finally, our last tip is to do what all great stories do — introduce the conflict and then show how the conflict was resolved. As humans, we all want to know what happened. That’s why we keep watching our favorite shows and movies until the very end. We've got this need to know what happens at the end.
Now, keep in mind that stories don’t always have a happy ending. But in the case of presentations, it’s better to end on a positive note. This will help your audience remember your presentation in a good light. It can also be a great way to encourage social sharing.
For example, if you end the presentation with a short, punchy, positive statement, there’s a good chance that others will share it on social media as a powerful quote or a statement.
The Best Place For Modern Presentation Templates (With Unlimited Use)
As you can see, storytelling can be used quite effectively in presentations. But storytelling is only one part of the equation. You also need a slide deck to help you deliver your story. And the best place to find modern presentation templates with gorgeous designs is Envato Elements.
Envato Elements gives you access to unlimited creative assets and templates for a single monthly fee. Your subscription allows you to download:
- unlimited presentation templates
- Word templates
- stock photos
- and more
Use them in an unlimited number of projects.
Envato Elements gives creatives and business owners the best value for their money. Plus, unlimited downloads allow you to try out a variety of different styles and options for your projects.
Free presentation templates sound tempting. But keep in mind that they often come with a handful of slides and very limited customization options. They can’t compete with the professional options you’ll find on Envato Elements.
Create Better Presentations With the Help of Storytelling
You've just learned how to tell a story in a presentation.
Storytelling is a great way to take your presentation skills to the next level. With the tips laid out in this article, you’ll be well on your way to using storytelling in your presentations and making them more memorable.
And if you need a little help with your presentation slide deck, be sure to stop by Envato Elements and browse through thousands of beautiful and modern presentation templates.