Tag Archives: corporate presentations

Get to the Heart – Episode 6: The Challenge Statement

Especially in the beginning of a presentation, engagement comes from evoking a sense of urgency. In this blog episode, you’ll learn how to do that, so your stakeholders will feel like they need to listen to you – and listen to you right now.

Will storytelling give your presentation the engagement you’re looking for?

In our last blog, we discussed trying to engage an audience with the same charts and bullet points utilized by all the other presenters that day, and how that method actually does the opposite. It’s also why data-overloaded execs are increasingly asking for something different: stories

Execs hope that if people present with stories, they’ll finally see the context that makes the data meaningful. They’re hoping it will give them something to remember so they can use it to lead. And they hope it will make all those presentations they sit through a lot less boring.

The good news is that story can do all of that. But it can also do more—a lot more.

The science

Dr. Paul Zak heads the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak and his colleagues have conducted many experiments on the way our brains and bodies react to the delivery of information. Dr. Zak: “Effective stories change people’s behaviors. We’ve shown that in laboratories and field studies we can, through storytelling, induce people to engage…”

What about the power of story to unite a group? Princeton professor Dr. Uri Hasson studied the brains of five people listening to the same story. Before the experiment began, their brains showed different activity, but once they began to hear the story, their brain activity aligned. Story brought them together, not only figuratively, but also neurologically.

That’s amazingly powerful when you think about a multinational company. But on a smaller scale, it means that with story, you can unite everyone at the conference table around your insight and idea.

The timing for story couldnt be better

While execs are clamoring, people haven’t exactly been answering the call. In fact, the bar has never been lower. So if you strike now and bring your stakeholders a story, you’ll stand out and make a huge and meaningful difference.

But are all stories equal?

I’ve been in corporate America a long time and I’ve seen countless examples of storytelling. I’ve seen data visualization, improv, and dozens of “meet so-and-so” slides. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen many presenters get mired in the muck of it all. I’ve witnessed their confidence and credibility crumble in the room, and I really felt for them because they were giving it their best. They just didn’t have a method that fit the information, objectives, and situations unique to corporate environments.

So I decided to find a storytelling method that would work for corporate presentations. One that could give stakeholders what they’re clamoring for, and beyond. One that does what scientists say it will do: align audience brains to be more open to your ideas.

I wanted it to be a natural, easy-to-learn tool. Something that won’t weigh you down or crush your confidence, because when you and your team work as hard as you do, you deserve a method that will get your information heard, while making you look and feel like an expert.

And, as we’ll cover in our next blog, I found this method in a surprisingly obvious place that everyone already knows and loves…

5 Ways to Make Your Presentations Simple and Compelling

risking your babyEveryone loves simple, and yet it’s so hard for us to pull off. So let’s take some cues from the industry that does simple best: movies. Here’s how you can steal from movies to create more powerful presentations by being simple.

  1. Get it down to the core – Movies start with only 3 or 4 key scenes and every other scene has to further the story or it’s thrown out. Ask yourself what 3 or 4 key things you want your audience to come away with? Then, take all your slides out one at a time. Unless you can’t get those key points across without that slide, leave it out.
  2. Kill your babies – That’s the Hollywood expression for having someone else help you cut. The director kills the screenwriter’s babies, and the editor kills the director’s babies. But they all do it to strengthen the story. So once you’re done hacking, get someone not on your project and tell him or her the key things you want your audience to come away with. Then let them kill your babies.
  3. Add context – Every data point or idea can be expressed through the people it affects, the way it affects them, and the places or situations they’re in. In other words, characters, plot and setting. Place your data or ideas in that context and your audience will understand far more quickly.
  4. Show instead of tell – Speaking of quickly – movies communicate so much in so little time because they use visuals and action, not just words. See that big screen behind you? Fill it with images. Use video to show action. Just like a movie, you’ll express so much more in far less time, and you’ll make a bigger impact.
  5. Hit them in the heart – The other reason movies leave out useless information is to fill it with emotion. You can too. Even in business, people make decisions emotionally, and if you evoke emotion, you’ll have believers. To get emotion, turn your characters into heroes by giving them a goal and challenges. Show their pain, show their struggle, and show their desire to triumph.

It will take practice, but once you start your presentations with simplicity in mind, it will actually be quicker for you too. And who doesn’t love that?

To find out more, sign up for the blog. If you do, you’ll be one of the first to hear when my new book Get to the Heart comes out.