Many of us practice storytelling without even knowing it. Telling stories is what you do naturally when you share an anecdote or a memory. After a totally bizarre weekend, few people at the coffee machine on Monday morning would start their story with “1: my weekend didn’t go as planned; 2: luckily I found a solution; 3: I’ll never be fooled again!”
And yet this is exactly what we find in presentations. Why is it that, all of a sudden, we lose the natural reflex to tell stories? Storytelling is everywhere. It’s a reflex in our exchanges, our stories, our anecdotes. It’s in marketing, advertising… Absolutely everywhere…but, in our presentations, we’re still looking for it.
The good news is that nothing is lost since, as the title of the ZETIP states: storytelling can be learned. Here are some tips to get started now.
How to become a seasoned storyteller?
Storytelling is drawing your audience into a story. To captivate your audience, it is necessary to create the conditions for them to agree to listen to you without knowing in advance where you’re going.
This is exactly what keeps everyone hooked onto Uncle Peter’s anecdotes, on a current series, or on the pitch of a new startup: “How’s he going to do it?”, “How did she do it?”. It’s when we’re held in suspense, not knowing what’s going to happen next, that stories become compelling and powerful.
- Avoid spoiling your own story from the beginning
Be careful, all your effort to captivate your audience cannot be wasted from the start by doing something that kills your story. Making an executive summary or anything that comes even close to killing your storytelling. For a simple reason: if everything that will be presented is already explained, it’s Game over. We already know where we are going and how we’re getting there. Why listen to you, if I already know everything I need to know?
- Prefer using elements that create narrative tension to captivate your audience
Setting aside summaries is one thing. Now you have to capture and maintain the attention of your audience. To do this, you can use the 3 narrative tension elements that are widely exploited in our favorite tales, films and series.
⁃ Surprise: we think we know what’s going to happen but something else is happening
⁃ Curiosity: we know how it ends but we wonder how it’s going to get there
⁃ Suspense: we see all the intermediary elements but we don’t know the end.
- Add a touch of consistency
Beyond creating the conditions for listening, it is necessary to maintain a strong cause and effect link. In other words, all the elements of your story must be connected by a cohesive link. This will be possible thanks to a narrative loop for each important element of your presentation:
⁃ Lay down the stakes: Why is this important? What were you hoping to do? What do you want to avoid, or, on the contrary, achieve?
⁃ Detail the actions: What have you implemented or plan to implement in concrete terms?
⁃ Share the consequences: What are the immediate consequences of these actions? What will change? What will be the value added? What will we be missing next?