Make a Lasting Impression—Present like a Storyteller

Studies show that as much as 75-80% of the population has some degree of fear of public speaking, or “glossophobia.” However, it’s an important skill that may have major implications for your future success. In fact, according to a Harris survey conducted on behalf of Prezi, 70% of employed people say “presentation skills are critical for career success.”

So, if you’re in a position that requires public speaking, presenting to senior leadership, or making pitches to potential clients, it’s important to focus on developing the skills needed to mount a truly compelling presentation.

Like writing a novel or directing a movie, there is an art to building a presentation that engages your audience and inspires action. And, it’s not easy. According to a poll by Presentation Panda, 46% of people who give presentations say “crafting a compelling story” is a top challenge. And, the best public speakers will tell you, building a presentation that makes a lasting impression isn’t as simple as putting a few big stats and funny images on a PowerPoint slide and calling it a day.

In order to truly engage your audience, you have to think like a storyteller and build a presentation that takes them on a journey and makes them feel personally invested in what you have to say.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Structure it with a beginning, middle, and end
Just like a great movie or book, your presentation should take listeners on a journey through a compelling structure that keeps them engaged. By plotting out the key information you want to establish at each point of the “story,” you not only have a guide for developing the rest of your content, but it also creates a familiar, easy-to-follow framework for your audience.

A compelling opening line is crucial
If you pick up a novel and the first line is “Hello, thank you for joining me today. In this novel, we are going to talk about …,” you’ll probably put it right back on the shelf and move on to something more interesting. The same goes for your presentation. From sharing a humorous anecdote to asking unique, compelling questions, hook the audience right from the beginning so they will be more willing to follow along down the path you are about to lead them.

Create atmosphere and context
The best movies and books create an atmosphere that draws the viewer into a narrative and makes them feel like they’re part of the story. Instead of simply rattling off a list of business achievements and statistics, give your audience a sense of the who, what, when, and why that led to the results you’re about to reveal. Giving context to the information you share helps build engagement by giving your presentation more depth. You’re not just sharing a bulleted list, you’re describing a journey that hopefully leads to a fulfilling conclusion.

Reward the audience with a satisfying conclusion
Like all great stories, the ending is the key to making a lasting impact. Even if everything before was perfectly presented, if you don’t stick the landing, your audience will walk away with that last impression. Whether you share the final results of a major project or finish a story you set up at the beginning of the presentation, people need to feel a sense of accomplishment. They’ve stuck with you this far, and now they deserve the reward of a satisfying conclusion.

What are some ways you present like a storyteller? How do you build your presentations to ensure they make a lasting impression on your audience? Let us know in the comments section below.

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