Within every presentation, there should be a narrative – a concise idea that needs to be conveyed in a convincing and memorable manner that will resonate with your audience. This takes some skill and a strong PowerPoint to ensure your story is heard, remembered, and enjoyed.
The first step to creating a strong presentation is preparation. Before you even start building your PowerPoint presentation, outline the key points of what you’re trying to express in the most succinct way possible. Bullet points can be helpful in ensuring you don’t get too wordy at the start.
After you’ve figured out the primary message of your presentation, outline the key points and vital information necessary for your audience’s understanding. Remember, you should never be reading off your PowerPoint slides and, inversely, avoid having slides with word-for-word quotes from your presentation. The slides should help illustrate your points or support your messaging, not reiterate what you’re saying.
Some of my favourite storytellers will transport audiences by appealing to all the senses to create a scene and setting. Arguably the greatest storyteller in Hip Hop is Slick Rick – the man knew how to weave a narrative by invoking all your senses even though he was expressing his ideas musically.
Rapper Rakim, an incredible storyteller in his own right, once said of Slick Rick, “When Slick told a story, you was [sic] right there. If he was talking about running through the park, you smelled the grass.”
To paint a complete picture, Slick Rick would subtly explain the smallest details, granting his audience into the workings of his mind without needing to be too literal or explicit. He trusted the intelligence and imagination of his listeners – and you should do the same.
Another quality of exceptional storytellers is passion. Passionate storytellers believe in what they’re presenting, which helps them exude confidence and capture audience’s attention. Author of The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort was able to defraud investors of approximately US$200 million (and have his autobiography become a Martin Scorsese masterpiece film) because he was equal parts charming, passionate, and creative. Furthermore, he was only encouraged to write his autobiography after retelling his story to his cellmate (Tommy Chong) after his arrest.
While Belfort was driven by a blinding love of money, he really believed in the nefarious methods his investment firm employed. His passion for wealth helped him become one of the most infamous stockbrokers ever, and now (to make restitution for his crimes) he’s a renowned motivational speaker that teaches sales techniques and public speaking confidence globally. Believe in what you’re selling, especially when what you’re selling is you.
If you believe in what you’re discussing, express the ideas in a concise yet creative way, allow the audience to develop their own idea and understanding, then your presentation should come across beautifully.
Remember, you’re communicating with people and they respond best to the most basic human qualities, so appeal to the senses, evoke emotions, and create imagery to entice audiences and ensure their understanding. If you can get your audience to connect with your story in a personal way, you’ve already won. Good storytellers become mere channels for their message, so creating an engaging story means the narrative becomes the star – not the storyteller.
As Slick Rick once said, “It draws you in and creates pictures, so what I do is almost like a talking story book.”