Have you noticed that many business presenters just drone on about concepts? Concepts and facts only appeal to the left brain where our short term memory is. For example “Our product is 100% natural and organic.”
BUT….stories, examples and metaphors appeal to the right brain where the long term memory is. So, people remember what you say when using these more engaging communication methods. In fact, if you could hook up your listener to a machine that measures brain activity, you’d see far more engagement when they are listening to stories.
So, why don’t business presenters do this more often? Here are the 3 top reasons:
1) They are new to giving business presentations and don’t know any better
2) They know better, but haven’t taken the time and focus to include examples and stories.
3) They want to, but they don’t really know how.
There is also a 4th, more controversial reason, that goes under the radar. In highly industrialized societies, I believe there is an unspoken ban on storytelling and metaphor. Many large companies see their employees and customers as numbers. You are either an asset or a liability. Storytelling brings us back to our humanity. It’s about people, their relationships and the deeper meanings of life. Stories make people think and reflect about the meaning of life. They make people question the existing status quo and want more from life. Therefore, stories are a way a small business owner can have a competitive edge, because they can tell stories that are meaningful to their particular prospects.
What makes for a powerful business story?
Stories contain acts of service that inspire others. Tales of good versus evil may sound cliché, but they keep showing up all through recorded history. Also, people get captivated by how a person faced a challenge and overcame it, for example how you helped one of your customers solved a problem. Stories encourage people to let down their defences. People don’t feel like they’re being sold to when hearing a story.
To tell an effective story you need to listen first, to care about your listener’s needs. Stories that specifically cater to the needs of the listener stand out from those that don’t. Therefore, good presenters ask lots of questions and choose the appropriate story or example for that particular person. Then, they listen to see what’s really landing with people.
Beyond the charts, graphs, and slides are the daily struggles of people positively affected by your business. Good presenters tell those stories in detail using present tense, including the five senses and identifying the universal values at the core of the story that everyone can relate to.
What’s the best way to get started with stories and examples in your presentations?
Look through your business presentation. When you see a fact or concept, add the words “And that means….” plus a story or example. Don’t assume people know what it means. Translate that fact or concept in terms of their goals and challenges. For example, “Our lavender face cream is 100% natural and organic. That means the plants were not sprayed with pesticides, like many other types of face creams. And we don’t use typical chemicals in the cream either, We do these things because we care about your long term health as well as helping you look youthful and radiant. This lavender cream recipe was handed down through four generations of women until it finally got to Maria Bellevue, the company owner. All four generations lived on lavender farms in Southern France. Maria kept the original recipe from the 1800s and only works with farmers who grow the lavender organically, preserving it’s true health-giving properties.
Think about what is the most sellable fact about your offer, and tell a backstory that paints a picture of the benefits in a more in-depth way. Stories trigger your listener’s imagination and they speak to people’s hearts. And, as you may know, people make decisions for positive change based on their heart, and only justify it with logic.
See how you can use more stories and metaphors to get people more engaged so they take action on your message.
For a unique training program in for being a much more engaging presenter, check out Storytelling in Business with storytelling expert, Carla Rieger