Storytelling is timeless. Whether in metaphors, mental models, cognitive maps, schemas, or scripts, our brains have an innate desire for a story.
We understand and sense the world in various ways through tales, which also applies to business concepts. This untapped potential of narrative can affect our decision-making and persuasion skills. Stories are the most effective method of information organization in presentations. They are an effective means of communication because they convey ideas and inspire action. By paying the story—rather than simply the information—forward, they also convert the audience into viral proponents of the cause, whether in real life or business.
Even while DevOps and digital transformation seem to be the focus of IT company leadership, they will probably perform below expectations if you cannot explain these initiatives successfully. Too many IT leaders—underestimate the value of clearly articulating their plans, strategies, and objectives.
This is more than a communication issue since convincingly communicating ideas is what secures money, leadership backing, and team buy-in. If the goal is clearly understood, embraced, and adequately funded, the same plan could produce different outcomes; all advantages flow from properly communicating your strategy.
It is not difficult to develop your capacity to communicate facts to an audience and get their support effectively. Utilizing simple storytelling tactics is one of the best ways to enhance your ability to connect with your teams, coworkers, and leadership. Since the dawn of time, people have been telling each other stories. Most of us received our early education from short tales that either included profound moral and ethical teachings or just told humorous anecdotes that stayed with us. Here are some fundamental strategies you may use to improve your presentations on even the most complex technical subjects.
Harnessing the power of storytelling in presentations
People are born with a desire to tell stories. Princeton University neuroscientist Uri Hasson used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study how storytelling affects the brain (fMRI). While listening to a narrative, Hasson and his team monitored the brain activity of several people. When the story started, the listeners’ brain activity synchronized profoundly, and “neural entrainment” extended throughout all brains in higher-order regions like the frontal cortex and the parietal cortex.
He discovered that, when presenting a narrative, the storyteller’s brain activity synchronized with the audience’s.
According to Hasson’s research, a good storyteller makes the audience’s neurons tightly sync with the storyteller’s brain. This finding has significant ramifications for presenters. Making your audience feel something is a fundamental storytelling principle. Stories with a purpose inspire people to take action because they touch their hearts and brains.
Experts claim that metaphor and analogy are the most effective and efficient approaches. These language strategies are fundamental to how we think and form the basis of knowledge itself. Rich sensory and emotional connections and the ability to generate imagery are involved in engaging the audience emotionally and cognitively in the narrative.
Storytelling Strategies in Presentations
- Beginning with the audience
Many presenters start with the subject they will discuss while creating their presentation. They may mentally sketch out the essential components of that subject, such as its crucial definitions and historical context, and possibly even the specifics of its technical significance.
Starting with your audience is a superior strategy. What issues are they attempting to resolve, and what is significant to them? How can you provide them with the information they can grasp and utilize, given their starting point of knowledge?
Take time to think about children’s books. Let’s say you are attempting to teach someone morality. Then you may expose them to different thinkers or global religions, discuss the significance of ethics and how it relates to the formation of structured civilizations, and give instances of when ethical lapses have resulted in catastrophe. Most young children will fail at this, but it could succeed for an adult with a moral background or interest. On the other hand, a fairy tale that features likable kids against a terrifying wolf or evil witch instantly strikes a chord while also teaching a crucial moral lesson.
Consider the impact you want your email, presentation, or workshop to have on your audience. How will the audience think or behave differently due to your interaction?
2. Use a narrative structure
Good tales connect each story section with a logical flow and have clearly defined beginnings, middles, and ends. The same should apply to your presentations, leading the audience logically toward the goal you defined while considering your audience.
Good tales decide which elements to include and which to exclude. As leaders in technology, we frequently want to go into great detail or focus on particular parts of an issue that are significant to us. You can resist that urge by knowing your audience and giving just enough information to keep the tale going toward a logical conclusion.
A straightforward story structure establishes the context for why you are presenting this specific knowledge. What it means to the audience and what they should do now that they are aware of it may assist frame your presentation, even if all you’re doing is imparting information.
- Who is the “Villain”?
The “evil guy” in a good story is typically someone the audience can relate to and wants to see triumph. The antagonist gives the plot direction and encourages the viewer to root for the villain to be defeated by some form of hero. There are still villains you may utilize to captivate your audience, even when there are probably no fire-breathing dragons or evil warlocks stalking the corridors of your company.
Time may be the villain waiting in the shadows to harm your brave project team when you’re giving a status update on a complicated project.
You might make a tale about how your technology approach is the slingshot that can assist you in destroying this superior adversary. A formidable opponent can be the Goliath to your David.
Thinking about your presentations this way might add some excitement and eventually inspire investment from your audience because we all enjoy “good vs. evil” stories.
- How you tell your story
It is amazing how frequently vibrant, hilarious, and exciting people report to work, position themselves next to a set of PowerPoint slides, and turn into monotonous robots spewing bullet points. Think of presentations that you found engaging.
Was the information presented just a collection of facts and data, or did it have a narrative? Was the presenter only a slide reader, or did they add life and excitement to the material by reenacting an amusing incident with friends or behaving more like an adult reading to a young child?
All the strategies that come naturally when engaging with family and friends are excellent at work, including using humor, changing your tone and tempo, seeming genuinely excited, and many others. When you connect to Zoom or enter your workplace, giving up your humanity makes you a far less successful communicator.
The most effective approach to communicating your thoughts to an audience is through storytelling since it uses the language that the human brain is most adept at understanding. When used effectively, it may inspire others to take action by keeping them interested in what you are saying. As you develop your storytelling skills, you will discover the ideal ratio of facts, concepts, and tales that hold audiences’ attention and inspire them to take action.