You may wonder, what do traditional storytelling and professional business presentations have in common? After all, we no longer gather around campfires to pass along tribal wisdom…or do we?
Today’s “campfire gatherings” come in the form of conventions, conferences and other public speaking opportunities at a variety of venues. The tools are different, but the thrust is the same: share information so that listeners walk away having been changed by what they heard or experienced.
Grab Their Attention
Traditional and contemporary storytellers alike understand that introductions are everything. If you fail to hook your audience at the beginning, you fail altogether. Perhaps more so than any other portion of your presentation, your opening remarks must pop. You must connect with your audience and provide a tantalizing preview that leaves your audience wanting more.
Tell Your Story
Like master storytellers, the core of your presentation is designed to educate, entertain, or influence your listeners. Avoid the temptation to labor over minor points or painstakingly read every word displayed on your slide decks. Ideally, the core of your presentation should ebb and flow in the same way that compelling plots feature high points followed by a temporary lull in the action.
Wrapping up your presentation is best handled in the same way storytellers end a story: Provide a quick summary of the major points. If a call to action is appropriate, deliver it with vigor, and base it on the points you made during the core of the presentation.
Tie up any loose ends, and avoid leaving your audience feeling as if they haven’t gotten the whole picture. One great way to discover loose ends is to ask your audience. Invite a few questions. If you find the same types of questions coming up repeatedly, incorporate changes within your presentation that will address those issues next time.
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