There are various techniques adopted by presenters to help make their presentation more engaging, more memorable, and more impactful. A critical feature of any good presentation is the ability to utilise storytelling, crafting a compelling narrative that helps audiences connect with content. Let’s explore some useful storytelling techniques presenters should use.
Storytelling Technique 1: Create Audience Immersion
Immersing your audience in the story helps them connect with the content, believing it what’s being presented to them. To immerse your audience, provide sensory details that help create a mental movie for them. By evoking the different senses, people immediately try to imagine what’s being presented or described, since the senses are universal in how we all process new information and gain context.
Storytelling Technique 2: Use Personal Stories and Personality
Stories of personal challenges and triumphs resonate far better than tales about anonymous people or entities. Making a story feel personal doesn’t just create immersion, but helps audiences empathise with the protagonist, seeing themselves in the situations presented and thinking for themselves how they would overcome such challenges. Even if you’re presenting on something generic or professional, a small injection of personality can help create levity, empathy, and ultimately be more memorable.
Storytelling Technique 3: Build Suspense
Tension is critical for holding attention, getting audiences emotionally invested, and ultimately making the conclusion more cathartic. Any good story or presentation should have conflict and a plot – as both engage the audience and keep them wondering what’s next.
One way to build suspense is to tell a story chronologically and lead up to a climactic conclusion. Another way is to drop your audience in the middle of the action, working your way backward in time to reveal how all of this occurred. This is a common technique used in cinema as it opens with an impact and then uses context and history to make audiences connect with the previously shown tension.
Another way to build suspense is by telling a predictable story and then surprising audiences by taking a completely different turn from what was expected. Remember, stories are often repeated or derivative, so keeping audiences on their toes can be as easy as lulling them into a false sense of security and familiarity.
Storytelling Technique 4: Characters Bring Stories to Life
Characters are at the heart of any story, as their challenges and triumphs are what help people connect with the story. An audience is more likely to laugh or cry if the characters of your presentation are believable and relatable.
The most successful storytellers use three-dimensional characters that have ambitions, flaws, and motivations to connect audiences. The characters’ choices should reflect those that would commonly be made by your audience, while their challenges and aspirations should be shared with many in the audience. Characters are critical because stories need a protagonist that conveys the information, is impacted by the action, and acts as a medium between the story and audience.
Storytelling Technique 5: Show; Don’t Tell
Things are always more memorable when seen or experienced firsthand rather than conveyed to you by someone else. Instead of explaining a specific example or event, it can be more impactful showing audiences directly, using images and video to give a more comprehensive view of what you’re trying to demonstrate.
Showing without telling also means using your visual aids to support your argument rather than make it. Don’t use your slideshow as cue cards because audiences will just read off your slides along with you, making your presence redundant. Use your slideshow for things that are better shown than explained, as this will help immerse audiences in the story and keep them engaged through visual stimuli that emphasises the presentation’s content.
Delivering a compelling story also means structuring and presenting things scene by scene, using visuals and dialogue rather than narration and exposition to connect with audiences.
Storytelling Technique 6: Leave Them Wanting More
This isn’t just about keeping things brief and abiding by the notion, ‘less is more’; this is also about building to a memorable conclusion. You should end any presentation with something memorable, something that gets the audience thinking, and will hopefully drive action.
This idea also lends to the notion of a CTA (call to action), essentially you want to drive your audience to seek more information or even purchase your product/service to realise the same benefits outlined in your presentation. A dramatic conclusion won’t just help the content resonate, but should help position you as a saving grace that can deliver on what was promised during the presentation.
Beginning in a memorable way helps audiences engage and remain attentive. Making your ending memorable will ensure audiences think about your presentation after it concludes, hopefully heeding your call to action.
Storytelling Technique 7: End With Positivity
The most effective presentations not only have a conflict and a climax, but also a positive resolution. Most presentations begin with highlighting a problem, outlining its impact, and then delivering a potential solution (or at least next steps that should be taken).
You’ll notice how most TV shows and films, particularly the older ones, always end with a teachable moment, a positive message or idea that has been discovered through the characters’ development. Your audiences should experience the same kind of catharsis at the end of your presentation, a new understanding that will hopefully change the way they view things and move forward.
Whatever key takeaway message you leave with audiences, it should frame your and your organisation as the solution to whatever challenge you presented. Also, considering how ingrained our society is in social media, it’s important to have content that’s easy to share and quote, using key insights and snippets from the presentation to help build online presence and demonstrate your industry authority.