They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to a business presentation, a good story is truly worth its weight in gold. Stories are the best way to get your audience to connect with your subject matter and remember what you’ve said. Presentation experts, Chip and Dan Heath, have conducted some revealing research on this topic. They found that after a presentation, 63% of attendees remembered stories, while only 5% remembered statistics. (Of course, you’ll have to overlook the fact that we’re using a statistic to prove stories are more effective.)
There’s no doubt that powerful statistics absolutely have their place in a good presentation, but anything more than a liberal dose of stats will in all likelihood overwhelm your audience, leaving them with glazed eyes. Conversely, an intriguing story will worm its way into their minds and stay with them long after the PowerPoint projector has been packed away.
Why Do Stories Stick With Us?
So, why do stories have a more lasting impact than a sea of statistics? Perhaps it’s because we have been indoctrinated to respond to stories from a tender young age. All those stories your parents read to you have attuned you to the power of storytelling. Plus, most good stories enable us to connect to an emotion, which creates a lasting impression for the listener/reader/watcher.
What Exactly is a Story Anyway?
Incorporating stories into your presentation will help to hook your audience’s attention. But what exactly is a story anyway? We all know a story when we hear one; however, applying the principles of story to work-related scenarios isn’t always the most intuitive exercise. Here’s a basic definition of story from Kendall Haven’s Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Touch of Story. Haven’s considers a story to be “a narrative about a character overcoming some obstacle to achieve some important goal.”
It’s a simple concept that can be easily applied to most business situations. Start with the problem, explain how the problem was overcome, and then wrap up with the impact/achievement. The more personalized the story is, the more it will convey an emotion, which is precisely what will resonate with the audience.
Unleash Your Inner Storyteller
The next time you are preparing a speaker proposal, or crafting the presentation itself, remember that by incorporating stories you’ll leave a more lasting impression on your audience. Tap into your inner storyteller to find interesting ways to convey information that might otherwise be less compelling. Before you know it, your rapt audience will be hanging on your every word!
Aurora Gregory and David Pitlik are the co-authors of the upcoming book “Get Picked.” Get more tips on how to prepare an irresistible speaker proposal at www.getpickedtospeak.com.